Coronavirus:

What You Need To Know

On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
70°
Chance of Rain
H 75° L 65°
  • cloudy-day
    70°
    Current Conditions
    Chance of Rain. H 75° L 65°
  • heavy-rain-day
    75°
    Today
    Chance of Rain. H 75° L 65°
  • heavy-rain-day
    74°
    Tomorrow
    Chance of Rain. H 74° L 66°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Entertainment
Reporters Alcindor, Collins, Jiang get under Trump's skin
Close

Reporters Alcindor, Collins, Jiang get under Trump's skin

Reporters Alcindor, Collins, Jiang get under Trump's skin
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, FIle
FILE - This March 29, 2020 file photo shows President Donald Trump answering a question from PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor during a coronavirus task force briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Reporters Alcindor, Weijia Jiang and Kaitlan Collins have faced hostility from Trump at news conferences with stoicism. Their experiences illustrate the challenge of working at a White House with near-daily accessibility to a president who considers the press an enemy. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, FIle)

Reporters Alcindor, Collins, Jiang get under Trump's skin

To anyone who's watched, there's more that binds Yamiche Alcindor, Kaitlan Collins and Weijia Jiang than an impromptu display of teamwork at a recent White House news conference.

Each reporter has a knack for getting under President Donald Trump's skin and an equal ability not to let it knock them off stride.

They symbolize the test of covering a White House like none other, with a president who views the press as an enemy yet is accessible almost daily. A question may elicit a candid response, misdirection, falsehood or attack — you never know what's coming.

Trump has reacted to questions by Alcindor, Collins and Jiang by calling them nasty or racist, and effectively telling the journalists to pipe down.

“How do you call out what's happening without making yourself the story, and refocus on what the public policy should be?” said Jessica Yellin, a former CNN White House reporter who now does a daily Instagram newcast. “It's incredibly challenging. They're showing us how it's done and figuring it out at the same time.”

The unexpected cooperation came during an outdoor news conference when Jiang, of CBS News, asked Trump why his claims that the United States tested more than any country mattered at a time people were dying of COVID-19.

Trump said that “maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me. Ask China that question.”

He looked to move on but CNN’s Collins, in line to ask the next question, let the exchange play out.

Jiang — who was born in Xiamen, China, and emigrated with her family to West Virginia when she was 2 — wondered why the president directed that remark to her. Trump said he would say it to “anyone who asks a nasty question.”

He tried to wave off Collins and motion for the the next questioner — Alcindor. The PBS “NewsHour” correspondent waited as Collins tried to ask a question before Trump, apparently frustrated, called an end to the news conference.

Jiang later tweeted thanks to both Collins and Alcindor.

It was a good example — not always common — of reporters working together to prevent a president from dodging a question, said Lynne Adrine, a former Washington news producer and now professor for Syracuse University.

Not everyone has the same perspective.

Jiang was criticized for “grandstanding” and insinuating that Trump’s response to her question was racist. “Only a partisan hack could interpret Trump’s response as racist,” Kylee Zempel wrote in The Federalist. “The president routinely shuts down reporters who ask bogus questions, as he should.”

Two years earlier, when Alcindor asked Trump about nationalism, the president labeled the question racist. More recently, he objected during a coronavirus briefing when she prefaced a question about ventilators and masks by noting that he had said some governors didn't actually need equipment that they requested.

When he denied having said it, Alcindor said she quoted him from an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity.

Trump said she should be more positive. Alcindor tried again to ask her question.

“Excuse me, you didn’t hear me,” Trump said. “That’s why you used to work for the (New York) Times and now you work for somebody else. Look, let me tell you something. Be nice. Don’t be threatening.”

She proceeded to ask her question.

Alcindor, who, like the other White House reporters was not made available to the AP for an interview, later noted that she wasn’t the first human being, woman, black person or journalist who’d been told to be nice and not threatening.

Alcindor’s roots are in print journalism, and she covered Trump’s campaign for The New York Times. She joined PBS in 2018.

“It should never be about me,” she said on “Pod Save America” earlier this year, “because I’m so focused on all the people in this country who will never see the White House, who will never get to speak to the president. And they deserve me to be professional and not lose my cool and to be so focused on the truth that I’m not wavering on anything else that goes on around me.”

CNN’s Collins pressed forward like an automaton in a recent exchange with Trump about a whistleblower's accusations. She completed her question on the fifth try despite Trump’s attempt to stop her. “CNN is fake news. Don’t talk to me,” he said.

“I watch them and I say, ‘these women are smart and they’re stoic, and they're asking questions that the public wants answers to,'” said Jill Geisler, a professor on media and leadership at Loyola University in Chicago. “They're not there to start a scene.”

Collins, who came to CNN from the conservative website Daily Caller in 2017, has been tested repeatedly. The administration barred her from an outdoor news conference in 2018 and last month to force her into a seat in the back of the White House briefing room. She wouldn’t budge.

This week she responded to Trump's critical retweet of a video that showed her removing a mask while leaving a news briefing by tweeting, “Nearly 90,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus, and the president is tweeting about me pulling my mask down for six seconds.”

A response that attacks rather than defends is dangerous, however. Taking the bait — and becoming known for hostile exchanges with a president — can make a reporter a hero to some and a less effective showboater to others.

“There's something unique about the way television reporters try to create moments that they can use on the air,” said Trump's first press secretary, Sean Spicer. “You don't see this problem with print reporters because, generally speaking, they're not going to get on the air.”

He senses reporters trying to prove themselves to colleagues.

“A reporter's job is to get information and to hold people accountable,” Spicer said. “They don't have to be jackasses about it.”

Trump's current press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, did not respond to a request for comment.

“It's a reporter's job to do what they need to do get answers and it's a president's job to try and remain above the fray if he wants to deliver his message,” said Nedra Pickler, a former White House correspondent for The Associated Press. “This president doesn't live by those rules.”

Jiang, Collins and Alcindor aren't the only reporters to tangle with Trump. CNN's Jim Acosta has turned his experiences into a book. Some believe Trump is particularly angered by tough questions from women and minorities. Spicer disagrees, noting Trump's respect for Maggie Haberman of The New York Times.

“The president is a fighter,” Jiang told Syracuse University students recently. “Certain reporters I think get under his skin more than others, and you just have to be aware that you could be one of those that day.”

Read More

News

  • Dozens of tombstones dating from the 19th century were found near a North Carolina neighborhood. A Piedmont Natural Gas worker told WSOC-TV that he found dozens of what appeared to be decades-old tombstones in a wooded area behind the Crestdale Crossing neighborhood. The stones appear to be from the 19th century and have what looks like dates and initials carved in them. The discovery piqued the interest of local historian Jeff Houser who said burial grounds are often lost to developments. Houser believes they are footstones created for a family grave. “These were either pulled up from someplace and set into the woods for some reason,” he said. He said the stones might have never been used, but it would take some time to uncover the truth. “We’d like to know why are these are here, how they got there and who are they for,” Houser said. Historians are working to compare the initials on the stones with census records from that time. Houser said that as of now, there is no official record of a cemetery in the area.
  •  A restaurant owned by rapper 2 Chainz has been cited by the state for violating social distancing guidelines. According to an incident report from the Department of Public Safety, a manager for Escobar Restaurant and Tapas was cited after public safety officials received complaints that there were too many people inside the restaurant and bar, violating the state’s executive orders over the coronavirus. DPS said it responded to the first complaint early Saturday after people called them saying that the restaurant and bar were too full. “When I enter the establishment, the entire facility was full of patrons, shoulder to shoulder, and was unable to enter safely,” the DPS officer wrote in the incident report. The public safety officer said he gave a warning to the manager on duty that night and the manager had everyone leave for the evening. The next night, DPS said it received another social distancing complaint about Escobar. “Once I entered the facility, I observed the same violations as I did when the warning was issued,” the officer wrote in the incident report. The on-duty manager, Rasheed Gaines, had security personnel make everyone leave, and the DPS officer cited Gaines for violating the state’s executive order. “When speaking to Mr. Gaines, he was aware of my previous warning as he was at the location the time it was given,” the DPS officer wrote in the report. Escobar Restaurant and Tapas, owned by Tauheed “2 Chainz” Epps and Mychel “Snoop” Dillard, is in Atlanta’s Castleberry Hills neighborhood near Mercedes-Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena. Epps delayed the reopening of the restaurant when Gov. Brian Kemp originally announced that dine-in service could restart. He originally was going to reopen at that time but opted to hold off. He also contacted Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to tell her about the decision. Bottoms spoke about it on the Tamron Hall Show last month. “I know that 2Chainz and his wife, Keisha, have a loving heart for a community which is unparalleled. For them, you’re talking about laying off 80% of his employees,” Bottoms said. “I was so glad that he reached out to me and told me that he would not be opening because he is listening to reason and logic. What he is saying is, ‘I’m not going to risk putting my employees in harm’s way because we are opening up too soon.’” Instead of reopening right away, Epps helped feed the area’s homeless. The restaurant later reopened after Kemp signed a new executive order that said restaurants could have limited dine-in service and allowed up to 10 people at one table. The order also said occupancy was limited to 10 people for every 300 square feet inside the restaurant. According to its website, Escobar features “a beautiful bar, elegant lounging, and a menu featuring a choice wine and champagne selection, innovative cocktails, craft beers and undoubtedly the most desired tapas and entrees.”
  • An inebriated man passed out on a raft and floated 7 miles down an Indiana river before he was rescued by authorities as he approached a dam. The man, who has not been identified, was passed out with a bottle of rum on his lap, MLive reported. Department of Natural Resources officers first found the man but were unable to awaken him while they shouted and blew a whistle from an embankment along the Blue River. Officers later used a boat and set up a tagline in order to stop the man from going over the Milltown Dam. However, the man had washed ashore a few miles before the dam. Authorities found the man. After a medical evaluation, he was arrested. Charges were not released.
  • Veteran actor Richard Herd, who played Mr. Wilhelm on the television sitcom “Seinfeld,' died Tuesday at this Los Angeles home, Variety reported. He was 87. The cause of death was cancer-related, Herd’s wife, actress Patricia Crowder Herd, told The Hollywood Reporter. On “Seinfeld,” Herd played Mr. Wilhelm, the New York Yankees executive who was the boss of George Costanza (Jason Alexander), was who the team’s assistant to the traveling secretary. Herd was the second “Seinfeld” character actor to die this month. Comedian Jerry Stiller, who played Costanza’s father on the show, died May 11. Stiller was 92. Some of Herd’s movie credits include roles in “The China Syndrome” (1979) “F.I.S.T.” (1979), “The Onion Field” (1979), “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987) and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” (1997). He also starred as the Klingon L’Kor on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and Admiral Owen Paris on “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Star Trek: Renegades.”
  • U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s office has confirmed that the U.S. Department of Justice has closed an investigation into recent stock trades made on her behalf. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Loeffler is among the senators who are no longer under scrutiny. The others are Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Dianne Feinstein of California. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina remains under investigation, according to that report. Loeffler’s portfolio came under scrutiny when a large amount of stocks that she or her husband owned were sold off shortly after she attended a senators-only briefing on the coronavirus and during the time that the virus began to spread across the country. She said that the Jan. 24 meeting included no private information and all stocking trading on her behalf is handled by financial advisers who act independently and without her input.  Loeffler denied that any trading on her behalf had broken laws or U.S. Senate rules. A campaign spokesman said Tuesday that the investigation has shown that the criticism was fueled by politics. “Today’s clear exoneration by the Department of Justice affirms what Senator Loeffler has said all along– she did nothing wrong,” spokesman Stephen Lawson said. “This was a politically-motivated attack shamelessly promoted by the fake news media and her political opponents. Senator Loeffler will continue to focus her full attention on delivering results for Georgians.” A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined to comment on the investigation. Loeffler initially refused to admit she was under investigation. Earlier this month, she said  she had turned over documents to federal investigators. But she would not say if she had volunteered or was asked to supply information or if she had been questioned.  Loeffler and her husband, Jeff Sprecher, have already taken steps to address the controversy about stock trading on their behalf during the COVID-19 pandemic. They directed their consultants to sell off stocks they own in individual companies. The only company’s shares they still own are Intercontinental Exchange, the conglomerate that Sprecher founded and now leads.  Loeffler worked for the company until she was appointed to the U.S. Senate. Although the threat of an investigation seems to be over, Loeffler should still expect to face questions about her portfolio on the campaign trail, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Doug Collins said. Collins is challenging Loeffler for her Senate seat in November’s special election. 'Her expensive lawyers might keep her from going to prison,” Collins spokesman Dan McLagan said, “but she's not going back to the U.S. Senate because we all know what she did.” This article was originally published on the ajc.com
  • The video is heartbreaking and chilling. Security footage from a Florida condominium complex shows the moment a woman, identified by authorities as 45-year-old Patricia Ripley, first tried to drown her son Thursday evening in a canal in West Kendall, an unincorporated area of Miami. Alejandro Ripley, 9, had severe autism and was nonverbal. Ripley holds Alejandro’s hand in the video, which was first obtained by Spanish-language television station Univision. She appears to caress his face and head and rub his back. Moments later, the footage shows Ripley take the boy by the arm and shove him into the canal, located behind the Kendall Acres Condominiums, before running away. She looks back several times over her shoulder as she vanishes out of the camera’s view. Watch the video of Alejandro Ripley’s near-drowning below, courtesy of Univision. Warning: The footage may be disturbing to some viewers. Several seconds later, she returns into the video frame with one of multiple bystanders who authorities later said rushed to Alejandro’s aid after hearing screaming. The man is seen lowering himself into the water to pull the boy to safety. Alejandro appeared unhurt, so no one called police or paramedics, authorities said. He and his mother walked away. About an hour later, Alejandro was dead. According to Miami-Dade County detectives and prosecutors, Ripley took the 9-year-old to a second canal near the Miccosukee Golf & Country Club and, with no witnesses to save him that time, shoved him once again into the water. Alejandro’s body – clad in a blue Captain America T-shirt and a diaper – was found floating in the canal Friday morning. The boy had previously been a student at Great Heights Academy, a Miami-area school for children with special needs. Miami-Dade County civil court records show the school sued Patricia Ripley and her husband, Aldo Ripley, in 2016 for more than $4,000 in unpaid tuition for their son. It was not clear when Alejandro had last attended the school but the Miami Herald reported that he was being tutored at home at the time of his death. The school’s administrators shared on Facebook both the news of his alleged abduction and the subsequent news of his slaying. “Ale, we will forever miss you,” a post on the school’s Facebook page read. It was accompanied by a video of Alejandro working with a teacher. “Praying you rest in peace.” A Miami-Dade County medical examiner told WPLG in Miami on Tuesday that the boy’s autopsy confirmed he drowned. His mother has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree premeditated murder, prosecutors said. A witness who lives at the condo complex told WPLG he saw Alejandro in the canal behind his home but didn’t think much of it. “Kids fall in the canal all the time,” said the witness, who declined to speak on camera. “Usually, you grab them, yank them out and away you go.” Alejandro appeared to be seated in water that was chest deep, the man said. “The only odd thing was she kind of started screaming and called his name, and then turned around and ran off screaming,” the man told the news station. 'He was just sitting there, and I tried to speak to him a couple of times and he looked at me, and that’s when she returned with an older couple. ”At the time, I thought they were together because that woman was giving it to her, screaming, ‘What are you doing? Why’d you leave the kid there?‘” The witness described the bystanders pulling Alejandro from the water. Video footage shows them drying the boy off before he and his mother leave. “Unfortunately, when she took him to the second canal, there was no one there,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told The Associated Press on Saturday. “She tried it once, and people rescued him. He was alive. He could have stayed alive. She intended, from all the facts of the case, to kill him.” Because he was nonverbal, Alejandro could not tell his rescuers how he ended up in the canal near the condo community, Fernandez Rundle said. “We talk about children being voiceless. This is another level of voicelessness,” the prosecutor told the AP. “He was incapable of saying, ‘Mommy put me in the water.’” Miami-Dade County Jail records show Ripley is being held without bond. Aldo Ripley sobbed Friday as he spoke to reporters following his wife’s bond hearing. “We love Alejandro, and we don’t agree with whatever they said about my wife,” a masked Aldo Ripley said through tears. “It’s not real.” Watch Aldo Ripley speak below and hear from Patricia Ripley’s attorney, courtesy of the Herald. It was not immediately clear if the boy’s father has seen the evidence against his wife. Patricia Ripley’s attorney, Nelson Rodriguez-Varela, told reporters outside the courtroom that he would not discuss any evidence in the case but would “leave that for another day.” “There is obviously a great deal of support for her,” Rodriguez-Varela said. “Everybody’s very concerned about her situation. “By all accounts, she has been an excellent mother, an excellent person, a great family as you can see from the people who are here.” The defense attorney said he is amassing a legal team to ensure his client’s rights are protected and she has the “opportunity to vindicate her good name.” Alejandro’s killing has provoked outrage in Florida and across the country, not only because of the circumstances of his death but also because of the nature of Ripley’s initial story to police. She claimed two black men had run her off the road and abducted her son at knifepoint, authorities said. “The only voice in his life that he depended on to get through this world was his mom’s,” Miami-Dade police Director Alfredo Ramirez said Friday during a news conference. “To think that voice would be the one that would harm him the most. “As a parent and as a member of this community, I’m deeply saddened for what happened to that young boy. And then for her to displace blame of her crime on another community, it’s just … well, another crime that was committed. It is very disappointing.” According to an affidavit in the case, Ripley called 911 shortly before 9 p.m. Thursday and reported that she and Alejandro had been traveling near a Home Depot in West Kendall when her vehicle was sideswiped, causing her to crash. She claimed the driver of the other car got out and approached her vehicle with a knife, demanding drugs before opening the front driver’s side door and stealing her cellphone and tablet. “She stated this male then removed her 9-year-old autistic child and fled in an unknown direction,” the affidavit says. Ripley was taken to the police station for questioning, according to the document. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials issued an Amber Alert for Alejandro. The alert described Ripley’s alleged assailants as “two unknown black males driving an unknown light blue four-door sedan.” “One of the abductors may be wearing all black clothing and a black bandanna as a face mask,” the alert said. “He may also have cornrows in his hair.” At the police station, Ripley gave “conflicting statements” to missing persons detectives, the affidavit states. The case was transferred to homicide detectives when Alejandro’s body was found, about 11 hours after he was first reported missing and 4 miles from the scene of the alleged abduction. Ripley was taken from the missing persons bureau to the homicide division for additional questioning. Again, she gave conflicting statements, the affidavit says. “These statements contradicted the statements of witnesses and the video footage obtained from the area of SW 103rd Avenue and Kendall Drive,” the document states. The footage described in the affidavit matches the surveillance video obtained by Univision. The Herald reported that security camera footage from outside the Home Depot near where Ripley claimed Alejandro had been kidnapped showed Ripley sitting alone in her car for 20 minutes before she called 911 to report him missing. Witnesses also told police they’d seen Ripley with her son near the canal where he was eventually found dead, CBS Miami reported. When confronted with the evidence, Ripley admitted she had not been robbed, the affidavit says. “She admitted that she drove to SW 62(nd) Street and SW 138(th) Court at approximately 8:30 p.m. and parked near a canal,” the document states. “She then led the victim to the canal, where he drowned. “She stated he’s going to be in a better place.” The CBS affiliate reported that a law enforcement official said Ripley told detectives she’d been thinking about killing her son for a while because the older he got, the more difficult he was to physically control. According to the Amber Alert, Alejandro weighed 120 pounds and was 4 feet, 11 inches tall. Miami-Dade County Jail records show that Ripley weighs 138 pounds. She is 5 feet, 5 inches tall. Since Alejandro’s death, at least one Miami-area support group for special needs children and their families has seen an uptick in calls from parents whose children are in crisis. Rabbi Yossi Harlig, co-director of Friendship Circle Miami, told the Herald the boy’s killing has rippled through the community as the nation deals with the deadly COVID-19 outbreak, which had killed more than 98,000 Americans as of Tuesday morning. The social distancing required to help stem the spread of the virus has placed already-struggling families in even more tense situations as they shelter in place and parents homeschool their children. “One of the concerns is that when someone acts like that, it could trigger other people. You never know,” Harlig told the Herald. “Typical families are feeling overwhelmed. Imagine if you’re raising a child with special needs.” In a Facebook video posted on the Friendship Circle’s profile, Harlig described the love and caretaking provided by the parents of most special needs children as “something that is like the work of angels.” With that love, however, comes pain, worry and an often overwhelming challenge. He begged those feeling that challenge to reach out for help. Friendship Circle Miami, which held a memorial service for Alejandro on Friday and has an online town hall meeting planned for Wednesday night, is implementing a hotline service for overwhelmed parents, the rabbi told the Herald. The group is also hoping to establish group therapy or child care centers to help families cope. “One thing that people always tell us is that they feel very isolated and alone, and there’s nowhere to turn to,” Harlig said. “One of the big things that people need is a respite, to have a place where they can drop off their child for a few hours and they can take a break.” The Lifeline Project will be launched in the days and weeks ahead, Harlig said on the organization’s Facebook page. “If anyone who cares for a person with special needs feels they are in crisis, they can reach us at 305-234-5654 or rebyossi@friendshipcirclemiami.org,” the page states. In Friday’s news conference outside Fernandez Rundle’s office, the prosecutor said nothing is worse than the death of a child. “The death of a child is tragic; the killing of a child is horrific,” the prosecutor said. Fernandez Rundle praised the work of Miami-Dade County detectives, who she said combed the community for evidence and witnesses and quickly established the truth of the case. “The tragic loss of the life of a 9-year-old boy, and the loss, really, of any young life, leaves all of us grieving,” Fernandez Rundle said. “This boy’s senseless, senseless death will stay with all of us, just as his bright smile that shines out from the photographs we’ve all seen.” Harlig said in a statement that his organization’s leaders are shocked and saddened by Alejandro’s death. “No child should ever be in this position, especially a child with special needs who cannot call out for help,” the rabbi said. “We all grieve for Alejandro and his family.”