UPDATE, 5/6/20, 9:45am ET: Paula Reid responded to President Trump’s interview by changing her Twitter bio to include the sentence, “Not Donna Reed, I can tell you that.” She tweeted an excerpt from the interview, as well, writing, “President Trump tells @nypost I am nothing like 50’s American archetypal mom Donna Reed. Fact-check: True.” Weijia Jiang replied to Reid’s tweet, writing, “I can confirm @PaulaReidCBS’ reporting here. But I wouldn’t describe us as “irritating… The President told me to be ‘nice and easy’ three out of the last four times I asked him a question.”
ORIGINAL: President Donald Trump lashed out at CBS News’ Weijia Jiang and Paula Reid in a new interview, suggesting that they act more like complacent, 1950s housewives than dedicated journalists. Trump was speaking to The New York Post about sparring with reporters during his daily coronavirus press briefings when he zeroed in on the two female journalists who particularly angered him. “It wasn’t Donna Reed, I can tell you that,” Trump said, referring to his exchanged with Reid, 37, and Jiang, 35. “Paula Reid, she’s sitting there and I say, ‘How angry. I mean, What’s the purpose?’ They’re not even tough questions, but you see the attitude of these people, it’s like incredible.
Donna Reed famously played a housewife and mother in The Donna Reed Show, an eponymous family sitcom that ran in the 1950s and 1960s. Reed, also known for playing Mary Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life, was practically perfect on the show as “Donna Stone”: hair and makeup never unkempt, the mother of beautiful, well-behaved children, a wife who absolutely worshiped her husband, and a homemaker who always had a clean house and dinner on the table — with a smile. In real life, Reed was a Hollywood powerhouse who produced her own work, a philanthropist, and a dedicated anti-war activist. That’s not the version of Reed that Trump’s referring to, though.
Trump insists that he “enjoyed” his back and forth with CBS’ Reid during the April 13 incident, but it didn’t play that way in the moment. Reid had asked Trump about why his administration had failed to prepare for the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States after learning about the threat in February. “The argument is you bought yourself some time. You didn’t use it to prepare hospitals, you didn’t use it to ramp up testing. 21 million people are unemployed. Tens of thousands of Americans are dead… How is this rant supposed to make people feel confident in an unprecedented crisis?” Trump interrupted Reid, telling her, “you’re so disgraceful. It’s so disgraceful the way you say that.”
Reid refused to let the president shut her down, continuing to press him until he finally sputtered and called her “fake.” Trump insulted Reid’s colleague Jiang on April 19, telling the reporter to “relax” in a patronizing tone. “Many Americans are saying the exact same thing about you, that you should have warned them the virus was spreading like wildfire through the month of February, instead of holding rallies with thousands of people,” Jiang said during the press briefing.
“Why did you wait so long to warn them and why did you not have social distancing until March 16?” Trump asked her “who are you with?” before saying, “Keep your voice down. Nice and easy. Nice and easy, just relax.” See more of the reporters Trump has attacked over his presidency, including, most recently, MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace, in the gallery above.