Rubio specifies journalists for ‘glee’ in virus deaths

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Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, as the Senate works to pass a coronavirus relief bill. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

NEW YORK (AP) — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, pressed to identify media figures that he said expressed “glee” at Americans getting coronavirus, has cited an editorial cartoonist, a magazine writer, an online tech publication and an online editor.

The Republican senator took heat for a tweet over the weekend that said some media members “can’t contain their delight” at reports that the United States had surpassed China in the number of coronavirus cases.

He was criticized for using the vague term “some in the media,” and ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, president of the White House Correspondents Association, called on Rubio to apologize. He didn’t, but late Monday pointed to examples of what he was talking about.

One came from the Twitter account of the tech publication The Verge that had tweeted a picture of President Donald Trump hugging the American flag with the message, “The coronavirus is now the American virus.”

Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief of The Verge, said his publication’s team is based primarily in New York and San Francisco and is devastated by the disease’s impact on those communities.

“Our story is anything but gleeful, and calls the administration’s failure to act a ‘dark lesson,’” he said on Tuesday. “Marco Rubio should spend his time worrying about the people of Florida.”

Rubio also cited a tweet by Benjamin Wittes, founder of the Lawfare blog, who tweeted a link to a story about the milestone with the message, “We’re Number One!” The senator also criticized a profane tweet by GQ magazine writer Julia Ioffe.

Cartoonist Bill Bramhall of the New York Daily News drew Rubio’s ire for a weekend drawing that showed a graph of U.S. coronavirus cases rising while a man in a red MAGA hat chants, “USA, USA, USA.”

Rubio also criticized Paul Krugman, columnist at The New York Times, for using figures on coronavirus provided by the Chinese government. The senator has said he doesn’t believe those numbers are accurate.

In calling out Rubio for his vagueness and requesting an apology, Karl said journalists at CBS and NBC News had died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and two members of the White House press corps are suspected of having contracted the virus. On Tuesday, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo announced that he had the virus.

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