When it comes to his relationship with the press, President Donald Trump hasn’t exactly been the best example of communicative decorum, to say the least. What’s worse? His high-profile feuds (some of which his family members are apt to spur on) with more than a few journalists — Chris Cuomo, Jim Acosta, and Yamiche Alcindor, to name a few — seem to have no end in sight.
Now, it looks like another reporter has been added to the roster: CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins. According to accounts of those present at a press briefing on May 15, 2020, regarding the coronavirus pandemic, Trump publicly (and deliberately) slighted Collins by abruptly ending the event after the reporter asked him a question regarding the mounting COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S.
“Second time this week Trump ended a WH news conference after engaging with @kaitlancollins,” tweeted Washington Post reporter David Nakamura before referring to a previous altercation between the two earlier in the week.
“On Tuesday he cut her off from a question after she deferred to another reporter first; today she pressed him hard on whether he believes the official count of 86,000 deaths from COVID,” he added.
The latest incidents are only a few of many that have occurred between the two in 2020. So why has Collins become Trump’s latest target?
Kaitlan Collins refuses to back down
According to Ms. Magazine, the beef between Donald Trump and reporter Kaitlan Collins began on April 28, 2020, when the CNN correspondent was ordered to move from her seat at the day’s briefing — a seat that had been assigned to Collins hours in advance — and to move to the back of the room. Collins refused to budge, as well as Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson, who was reportedly ordered to swap with her but refused out of solidarity. However, her actions were not without consequence.
The briefing proved to be one of the shortest since the coronavirus hit American shores at the beginning of 2020, only lasting 22 minutes, after which Trump refused to answer any questions by reporters. Afterward, Collins was quick to give her account of the interaction on social media, tweeting about what had occurred.
Despite the incident going public, the White House refused to comment on why they reportedly attempted to oust Collins from her seat. This is especially confounding because, due to social distancing guidelines, seat assignments are in place to protect members of the press, as The Hill noted.
As it appears, there’s enough evidence to warrant speculation that the media network Collins represents might have something to do with the drama.
Donald Trump's feud against Kaitlan Collins is much bigger than it seems
Like her colleague Jim Acosta, White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins works for CNN, a news network Donald Trump has made a point of continuously assailing since the beginning of his presidency. According to The New York Times, it’s the network Trump loves to hate-watch the most — the second of three media outlets he makes a deliberate habit of watching before noon (the others being Fox News, which Trump has supposedly turned against after years of right-wing allyship, and MSNBC, which he reportedly only watches in “dollop[s]”).
Trump’s hatred towards CNN is well-documented — and as the Independent reported in 2018, it reached a boiling point when the outlet ran a story on the Trump-Russia dossier, which evolved into the administration “[using] CNN as a foil in the mainstream media.”
As a longtime CNN reporter, it looks like Collins, who has worked for the media company since 2017, is no exception to Trump’s continued hostility. Adding fuel to the fire? Collins might also be seen as a defector in the eyes of the GOP: she left her previous employer, right-wing publication The Daily Caller, for the network Trump has more or less declared his sworn enemy.
Kaitlan Collins and Weijia Jiang are the latest Trump targets
Along with Trump’s hatred for CNN, the president has a reputation for openly attacking female reporters in particular.
As The Daily Beast pointed out, Trump’s ramped-up hostility toward Kaitlin Collins intensified on May 11, 2020, after Collins attempted to support a fellow reporter — a reporter who also happened to be a woman of color, CBS correspondent Weijia Jiang.
Jiang’s question regarding Trump’s insistence that the U.S. is leading the world in testing for the discovery of a COVID-19 vaccine — an assertion he had printed on a banner — was met with a xenophobic rejoinder. Trump snapped back at Jiang, who is Asian-American, by telling her to “ask China,” The Washington Post reported.
After Collins backed up Jiang (who, even without Collins’ aid, was able to stand her ground), both became two examples of, as The Daily Beast called it, members of Trump’s “pantheon of ‘nasty’ female journalists.” For those who aren’t already aware, “nasty” is an adjective Trump has historically used when describing women he doesn’t like, as CNN noted.
Although it’s highly doubtful Trump’s vendetta against Collins will abate anytime soon, we’re glad she has remained strong — or, as Ms. Magazine stated in their recent coverage of the feud, showed that “intimidation and humiliation did not, and will not, work in a country where our press is free, and news is real.”
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