President Donald Trump was excoriated on social media after turning his attention to Twitter during a roundtable Thursday afternoon on the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic as one attendee detailed the hardships faced by her small business due to the outbreak.
"Get off your phone and pay attention!" tweeted author Jason Cranford Teague.
@realDonaldTrump Get off your phone and pay attention! https://t.co/YSC7s7mMgc— Jason CranfordTeague (@Jason CranfordTeague) 1592575724.0
The president began scrolling through his phone as a business owner described how the pandemic has affected her company's operations, including the need for added runners and phone operators to handle social distancing requirements.
Trump's focus instead was apparently on composing a tweeted threat to China referring to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer's comments Wednesday to the House that it was unlikely the Chinese and U.S. economies could "decouple."
Trump demonstrates the depth of his empathy with two small business owners he invited to the White House by getting… https://t.co/XBuf5F8qNc— Robert Mackey (@Robert Mackey) 1592521097.0
"It was not Ambassador Lighthizer's fault (yesterday in Committee) in that perhaps I didn't make myself clear, but the U.S. certainly does maintain a policy option, under various conditions, of a complete decoupling from China," said the president. "Thank you!"
An avalanche of criticism quickly followed.
Who among us hasn't led the most powerful nation on earth and sneaked a peek at Twitter while in an important meeti… https://t.co/cmeqEkwZeK— Prashant ❤️ (@Prashant ❤️) 1592528314.0
Message: I care. https://t.co/8BtW7d4N0J— John Heilemann (@John Heilemann) 1592519029.0
Over 100,000 American small businesses have been run out of business since Trump disastrously mismanaged the respon… https://t.co/CLWM96F35n— Andrew Bates (@Andrew Bates) 1592526996.0
"He's not even trying to pretend at this point," tweeted Vox journalist Aaron Rupar.