Numerous right-wing media figures and outlets have contributed to anti-Asian hate by celebrating racist “kung flu” term

The preview image for Steven Crowder's anti-Asian "kung flu" video

Citation The preview image for Steven Crowder's anti-Asian "kung flu" video on YouTube

Numerous right-wing media figures and outlets have used and celebrated the racist term “kung flu” to refer to the coronavirus, further contributing to an atmosphere of hate against Asian Americans. 

Among the more than dozen examples: Fox News host Pete Hegseth praised the term as “funny”; Daily Wire host Michael Knowles said it was “fairly amusing” and “very important” to use; and YouTube Partner Program personality Steven Crowder posted a video on the platform of himself in Asian garb singing “Kung Flu Fighting.” 

Notably, former President Donald Trump has also repeatedly used the “kung flu” phrase. 

On March 16, eight people, including six Asian women, were killed in Atlanta-area spas by an alleged shooter. Investigators have not reached a conclusion as to the motivation for the killings, but they come at a time when Asian Americans have reported thousands of hate incidents and seen an increase in hate crimes during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Stop AAPI Hate recently wrote that it had received reports of 3,795 such hate incidents from March 19, 2020, to February 28, 2021. Those incidents include “verbal harassment,” “shunning,” and “physical assault.” Additionally, the reporting center found that “women report hate incidents 2.3 times more than men.” 

The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University also recently found that “Anti-Asian hate crime in 16 of America’s largest cities increased 149% in 2020 according to an analysis of official preliminary police data.” 

The following are over a dozen examples of right-wing media figures and outlets contributing to anti-Asian hate by using and celebrating the racist “kung flu” term: 

Fox News' Pete Hegseth: “Say it with me, Tucker: Wuhan virus, Chinese virus, maybe even the kung flu. You know, a little off color, but funny.” 

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Citation From the May 21, 2020, edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight

PETE HEGSETH: Well, say it with me, Tucker: Wuhan virus, Chinese virus, maybe even the kung flu. You know, a little off color, but funny and you know, we still live in a free country last time I checked. What is this? This is the way the left thinks. Right? And she wants to be one heartbeat from the presidency. She's accusing everyone who might use those phrases of racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and religious intolerance. Think of it. They have millions of people indoctrination camps in China, Christian churches not able to open. I want to dismiss it as a joke, Tucker, but it's not because it's exactly how the left thinks. These elitists use language and weaponize it to try to control us. Take the issue of immigration, right? A legal term was illegal alien, then it was illegal immigrant, then it was undocumented immigrant, then it was undocumented worker, undocumented person, and now they're economic migrants and suddenly no person can be illegal and, ta da, the border should be wide open. This is precisely how they think and you're the bad guy for applying common sense.

Steven Crowder made a “Kung Flu Fighting” YouTube video.

YouTube personality Steven Crowder, who profits from ads during his videos through the platform’s Partner Program and has a history of anti-Asian racism, produced a March 2020 YouTube video called “Kung Flu Fighting” in which he wears Asian garb:  

Fox News regular Mark Steyn sang a version of “Kung Flu Fighting” on his radio show.

Fox News regular and radio host Mark Steyn has sung his own version of “Kung Flu Fighting.” From his April 22, 2020, show: 

Mark Steyn sings "Kung Flu Fighting" on April 22, 2020

Mark Steyn audio clip
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Citation From the April 22, 2020, edition of The Mark Steyn Show

Fox News' Kayleigh McEnany defended the use of “kung flu” as White House press secretary.

While working as White House press secretary, as CNN wrote, Kayleigh McEnany defended her boss’s “use of the term ‘kung flu’ to refer to the coronavirus at a rally over the weekend, insisting that it isn't racist.” Fox News recently hired her as a contributor. 

The Daily Wire's Michael Knowles: “Kung flu” and “chop fluey” are “pretty funny,” “fairly amusing,” and “very important” to use.

During his March 9, 2020, broadcast, Daily Wire host Michael Knowles said: “Is coronavirus a pandemic or a Dem panic? Should we lather ourselves in hand sanitizer to keep kung flu away, or is the left-wing media blowing the Wuhan virus out of proportion? We will examine the facts as well as many other funny names for the public health crisis.” He later referred to the coronavirus as “chop fluey.” 

On his March 19, 2020, broadcast, he praised the use of terms like “kung flu” and “chop fluey” as “pretty funny” and “fairly amusing,” calling them “very important” to use because the Chinese government “has been trying to dodge responsibility” for the pandemic and “we cannot lose the narrative here.” 

Radio host Eric Metaxas: “The correct term is 'kung flu panda-demic.'” 

Radio host Eric Metaxas emceed the December 12 “Jericho March” in Washington, D.C. Responding to comments about “the China virus” from Priests for Life’s Frank Pavone, Metaxas said: “Did Father Pavone say ‘China flu’ or something like that? I can’t believe he would say a thing like that. The correct term is ‘kung flu panda-demic.’” 

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Citation From Right Side Broadcasting's December 12, 2020, stream of the "Jericho March"

Columnist Ann Coulter used “kung flu” in her syndicated column. 

In her March 18, 2020, syndicated column, Ann Coulter mocked the World Health Organization for having “put out a ‘Fact Sheet’ to ensure that those with Kung Flu would not be stigmatized.” 

Commentator Chadwick Moore: “Stop calling it Covid-19. It’s Wu Flu, Kung Flu, Wuhan virus, Bat Soup Bug, Sweet n Sour Sicken, or China virus.” 

Commentator and frequent Fox News guest Chadwick Moore has tweeted: 

Newsmax's Michael Reagan repeatedly used “kung flu” in his columns.

Michael Reagan is a Newsmax columnist and Newsmax TV contributor. He has frequently referred to the coronavirus as the “kung flu” in pieces with Michael R. Shannon for Newsmax; here are examples in 2020 from March 24, April 21, April 24, May 16, and October 10

Commentator Terrence K. Williams: “I won’t say Ching Chong Virus again. I mean the Ching Chong Virus. No I mean the Kung Flu.” 

Right-wing commentator Terrence K. Williams has tweeted: 

The Daily Wire’s Andrew Klavan referred to the coronavirus as ‘kung flu” and also “the stinking Chinese.” 

Like Knowles, Andrew Klavan is another host for The Daily Wire who has referred to the coronavirus as “the kung flu.” On the July 22, 2020, edition of his show, he began by stating: “Senators continue to debate a new relief bill to deal with fallout from the Chinese flu, or wu flu, or kung flu, or flu manchu, or Chinese act of bacteriological warfare, or as they call it in Hollywood, ‘Thank you for the COVID-19, Mr. Producer, sir.’” In another episode, he also said that he likes to refer to the coronavirus as “the stinking Chinese flu, or just the stinking Chinese for short.” 

RedState writers have repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as “kung flu.” 

Writers for Salem Media’s RedState have repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as “kung flu.” Here are examples in 2020 from March 17, March 18, June 13, June 15, June 30, and July 11

VDare repeatedly used “kung flu” on its white nationalist site.

VDare is a white nationalist site that has been cited over the years by Republicans, including the 2016 Republican National Convention and former senior White House aide Stephen Miller. The site has repeatedly used the “kung flu” term to refer to the coronavirus; here are examples in 2020 from March 17, March 28, April 2, and April 5

The Young America’s Foundation posted racist meme using “kung flu.” 

The Young America’s Foundation is a nonprofit whose activities include producing media content and purportedly training “aspiring journalists in the values of responsible, balanced, and accurate reporting.” The organization has also posted the following racist meme on its social media pages: