Trump blasts media as anxious Americans come to grips with coronavirus pandemic

US President Donald Trump on Friday capped a tumultuous week as Americans faced sweeping life changes and massive Wall Street losses amid the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak by turning to a familiar playbook: attacking the media.

In a contentious press briefing, the Republican president lashed out at an NBC reporter who noted Trump's tendency to put an optimistic spin on the situation and asked what his message was to the American people who may be scared.

"I say that you're a terrible reporter. I think that is a nasty question," Trump said.

Two of the nation's most populous states - California and New York - have enacted their toughest restrictions yet affecting some 60 million people, while federal authorities this week moved to close the borders with Canada and Mexico. More than 200 people have died in the United States and over 14,000 cases of the highly contagious respiratory illness had been confirmed by Friday.

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Pictures of the week: March 15 - 21
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March 18th 2020 - Prince George and Princess Charlotte will home-school during the coronavirus outbreak. - File Photo by: zz/KGC-178/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 6/10/18 Catherine The Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge watch Prince William The Duke of Cambridge play for the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy during the Festival of Polo at the Beaufort Polo Club in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England, UK.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori listens to questions from journalist during a press conference Monday, March 23, 2020, in Tokyo. As infections soared in Europe and the United States and the world economy spiraled downward, Japan on Monday hinted at the next possible victim of the globe-spanning coronavirus: The 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
French soldiers discuss inside the military field hospital built in Mulhouse, eastern France, Monday March 23, 2020. The Grand Est region is now the epicenter of the outbreak in France, which has buried the third most virus victims in Europe, after Italy and Spain. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
Drivers form a long queue to use a McDonald's drive-thru near Dover in Kent as it was announced that all of their restaurant locations in the UK and Ireland will close by 7pm on Monday to protect the safety of their employees and customers from coronavirus.
Pedestrians walk on Primrose Hill with the Post Office Tower as a backdrop in London, Monday, March 23, 2020. The British government is encouraging people to practice social distancing to help prohibit the spread of Coronavirus, further restrictions may be imposed if the public do not adhere to their advice. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Pedestrians walk on Primrose Hill with the skyline of central London as a backdrop in London, Monday, March 23, 2020. The British government is encouraging people to practice social distancing to help prohibit the spread of Coronavirus, further restrictions may be imposed if the public do not adhere to their advice. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
The Olympic rings float in the water near the Rainbow Bridge in the Odaiba section of Tokyo, Monday, March 23, 2020. The Tokyo Olympics are going to happen — but almost surely in 2021 rather than in four months as planned. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Cherry blossoms bloom over Meguro-gawa River Monday, March 23, 2020, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
View of a deserted Piccadilly Circus public space amid Coronavirus threats in London. UK Government is drawing up plans to enforce closure of restaurants, bars and cinemas in the capital and restrict use of public transport. The expected 'London Lock down' has already seen large empty spaces where tourists usually gather and deserted streets around landmarks due to the threat of a further spread of coronavirus. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A lone security guard stands outside the Bank of England, in the City of London, as the UK's coronavirus death toll reached 144 as of 1pm on Thursday, with around four in 10 of all deaths so far in London.
Protesters from a group called 'Pause the System' wear face masks as they demonstrate outside Downing Street in London. The group are calling for greater action from the government as the UK's coronavirus death toll reached 144 as of 1pm on Thursday, with around four in 10 of all deaths so far in London.
People are seen queueing up outside an Iceland at Melton Mowbray Market after NHS England announced that the coronavirus death toll had reached 104 in the UK.
A person wearing a full face mask in King's Cross underground station in London after NHS England announced that the coronavirus death toll had reached 104 in the UK.
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Many shops at Melton Mowbray Market are displaying signs saying 'takeaway only' including Greggs and McDonalds after NHS England announced that the coronavirus death toll had reached 104 in the UK.
Trollies are being disinfected at a Sainsburys in Leicester after NHS England announced that the coronavirus death toll had reached 104 in the UK.
The London Eye is empty of people after NHS England announced that the coronavirus death toll had reached 104 in the UK.
A advertising the sale of face maska dn rubber gloves in London as NHS England announced that the coronavirus death toll had reached 137 in the UK.
A general view of Market Street in Manchester as NHS England announced that the coronavirus death toll had reached 104 in the UK.
A very quiet Westminster Bridge, as the death toll from coronavirus in the UK reached 71 people.
A lady looking at empty shelves in a Sainsbury's store in London, as the death toll from coronavirus in the UK reached 71 people.
A closed off seating area in a branch of Pret a Manger in Westminster, London, as the death toll from coronavirus in the UK reached 71 people.
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Protesters from a group called 'Pause the System' wear hazmat suits as they demonstrate outside Downing Street in London. The group are calling for greater action from the government as the UK's coronavirus death toll rose to 35 with a total of 1,372 positive tests for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Sunday.
A sign at a Mcdonald's branch in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. All McDonalds restaurants in the UK and Ireland become takeaways, drive-thrus and delivery operations as the company attempts to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon holding a media briefing at St Andrew�s House in Edinburgh on Coronavirus (COVID-19) after she had taken part in the UK Government�s COBRA meeting. Picture date: Monday March 16, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus Scotland. Photo credit should read: David Cheskin/PA Wire
A woman wearing a face mask as a precaution against the spread of Coronavirus takes a selfie in central. (Photo by Steve Taylor / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
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Trump and top administration officials for weeks downplayed the outbreak, which began in China in December, before shifting their tone about the severity of the health crisis more recently.

The president, who is running for re-election on Nov. 3, has long sparred with the media, blasting coverage of him as "fake news" and "hoaxes," and slamming news outlets and journalists on his Twitter feed. His re-election campaign also recently filed lawsuits against several outlets, including the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Yet the crises has propelled Trump recently to give briefings with news outlets nearly every day in the White House briefing room, a place he eschewed during his first three years in office.

On Friday, in a particularly unusual twist, Trump's first White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, attended the briefing and asked a question in his role working for Newsmax. Spicer repeatedly sparred with reporters during his time as a spokesman early in Trump's term.

During his recent engagements with the press, Trump has sought to display unabashed optimism despite more sober comments from public health officials, medical experts, state governors and others who have sounded the coronavirus alarm.

One reporter on Thursday asked about the impact on the economy as many businesses have had to dramatically shift operations or shut down entirely during drastic measures to slow the spread of the virus.

"Thanks for telling us. We appreciate it," Trump said. "What's the rest of your question? We know that. Everybody in the room knows that."

Asked last week about his role regarding the disbanding of a National Security Council pandemic preparedness team on his watch, Trump told a PBS reporter: "That's a nasty question... When you say me, I didn't do it."

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