President Trump brushed aside allegations that China — as well as Russia and Iran — are spreading misinformation about the origin of the coronavirus during a 64-minute call with "Fox & Friends" on Monday, telling the hosts that "every country does it."
Why it matters: Multiple verified Chinese government Twitter accounts have promoted different conspiracy theories, and Chinese foreign ministry deputy spokesperson Zhao Lijian suggested that the virus come from a U.S. military lab, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian reports.
- China's ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, told Axios' Jonathan Swan that he stands by his belief that it's "crazy" to spread such rumors about the virus.
- The country's strategy is a clear departure from Beijing's previous misinformation tactics and signals its increasingly aggressive approach to managing its image internationally after the first outbreak in Wuhan.
The exchange: The president criticized the Washington Post instead of addressing the misinformation campaigns, suggesting without evidence that the paper spreads false information.
- "They do it, and we do it. And we call them different things, and, you know, I make statements that are very strong against China, including the 'Chinese virus,' which has been going on for a long time. I mean, I wouldn't say they were thrilled with that statement," Trump said.
- "Hey, every country does it," he added on the topic of misinformation.
- Host Brian Kilmeade pushed Trump on the topic, saying, "I believe they're doing it. Mr. President, you know that China has already done this."
- China's campaign is in part to deflect blame for its early coverup of the epidemic and to show itself a more reliable partner to countries than the U.S.
- A plane from Shanghai arrived in New York Sunday morning carrying 12 million gloves, 130,000 N95 masks, 1.7 million surgical masks, 50,000 gowns, 130,000 hand sanitizer units, and 36,000 thermometers.