A top White House official accused the U.S. media of boosting negative reports about the coronavirus in order to hurt President Donald Trump.
The acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, told a conservative political forum on Friday in Washington.
“The reason you are seeing so much attention to it today is that they think this going to be what brings down the president, that’s what this is all about,’’ Mr Mulvaney said.
Mr Mulvaney went on to say that in order to calm stock markets, he would suggest “people turn their televisions off for 24 hours.”
The comments came as he blasted the media for pushing a negative narrative against the president, including during the recent impeachment investigation and trial.
The chief of staff, who is also the head of the Office of Management and Budget amid staffing issues in the administration, also conceded there may be disruptions to transportation and schools.
U.S. markets are in correction territory and yields have a benchmark government bond have hit a record low, amid fears over the virus.
The White House is under pressure from the opposition Democrats over handling of the virus, including on preparedness and previously planned budget cuts to health services.
There have also been concerns about the administration’s focus on markets and Trump’s history of making misleading and incorrect statements.