On Tuesday, a video of the exchange between Paula Reid and the president went viral with political commentators praising the White House correspondent for her hard-line approach to questioning.
With criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic mounting, reporters at the White House on Monday were made to watch an edited video comparing the president’s response to coronavirus with that of Joe Biden, the all-but-confirmed Democratic presidential nominee.
Afterwards the CBS reporter pushed Mr Trump to detail what he had done in preparation for the outbreak before the end of February.
“The argument is that you bought yourself some time and you didn’t use it to prepare hospitals, you didn’t use it to ramp up testing, right now nearly 20 million are unemployed, tens of thousands of Americans are dead…”, said Ms Reid. “What did you do with the time that you bought?”
The president responded: “What do you do when you have no cases in the whole of the United States – excuse me, you reported it – zero cases, zero deaths on January 17th”.
Pressed on what measures he had taken in the month between the first US case and the imposition of the travel ban, Mr Trump retorted that he had done “a lot” but could not name any specific details.
“Look, you know you’re a fake. You know that. Your whole network, the way you covered it is fake.”, the president told the CBS correspondent. “And most of you – and not all of you – but the people are wise to you, that’s why you have a lower approval rating than you’ve ever had before times probably three.”
He continued by comparing the US to other countries, despite recording the worst death toll worldwide with almost 24,000 deaths.
“I could have done what some countries are doing. They are getting beaten up pretty badly. I could’ve kept it open, I thought of keeping it open, because nobody’s ever heard of closing down a country, let alone the United States of America.”
Mr Trump added that his administration had been “right” in its response whilst the press had not covered his actions in the “way they should be”.
The president has meanwhile been forced into performing a number of U-turns including his plan to reopen the US economy by Easter. He has also criticised governors who have called on the support of the federal government.