Don’t believe everything you see on TV, Mr. President.
Donald Trump complained that two female CBS News journalists in particular have irritated him during his coronavirus briefings, telling the New York Post in an interview that’s gone viral, “It wasn’t Donna Reed, I can tell you that.”
The president was referring to the late Oscar-winning actress who came to epitomize the ideal housewife of the 1940s and ’50s in roles such as Mary Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” as well as her hit series “The Donna Reed Show” that ran on ABC DIS, -2.05% from 1958 to 1966.
But Reed, who passed away from pancreatic cancer 34 years ago at the age of 64, was a very different woman from the one she played on screen. She was an early advocate for women’s rights and became known as a “troublemaker” in Hollywood by advocating for better roles, as well as for calling most directors incompetents who “hated women.” (That, she said, “is why they make their female characters as unpleasant as possible.”)
She also infuriated studio executives by breaking from the housewife image they had cultivated for her. She played a hooker in “From Here to Eternity” — which won her an Academy Award.
What’s more, she was a political activist who protested against the Vietnam War. She said at the time, “I love my country, but I feel it got off the track. This is my way of helping it find its way back.”″
And many critics on Twitter TWTR, -0.56% were quick to tutor President Trump on the topic:
The New York Post, a sister publication to MarketWatch, had spoken to the president about his contentious White House coronavirus briefings, which have been tabled since he faced sharp criticism over controversial comments about using UV light and disinfectants to treat the coronavirus a couple of weeks ago, as well as his almost daily sparring with reporters.
Trump revealed that he enjoys trading barbs with the press, and that he thinks the public likes it, too.
“I was told that some people didn’t like the combative attitude so much. And I can a little bit understand that. But I would say from the standpoint of watching it and wanting to watch, that would be more interesting than having boring questions asked,” he said. “And you know, at the same time, they shouldn’t be asking the same question every press conference just trying to get a rise, you know.”
And two journalists whom he singled out for being especially guilty of this were Weijia Jiang and Paula Reid from CBS. “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,” he said.
Reid responded on Twitter on Tuesday, writing that the president says, “I am nothing like 50’s American archetypal mom Donna Reed. Fact-check: True.”
Jiang tweeted that, “The President told me to be ‘nice and easy’ three out of the last four times I asked him a question.”
Several viewers and fellow journalists came to their defense.
Trump had not addressed the Donna Reed remark or the responses to it as of midday Tuesday.