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CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta took fire on social media Tuesday as critics suggested he was downplaying serious mistakes made by the World Health Organization (WHO) to go after President Trump.
During Tuesday's coronavirus task-force briefing, Trump said he may put a "very powerful hold" on funding to the WHO as he lashed out at the United Nations specialized agency and accused it of "being very China-centric" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Reiterating his complaints from a tweet earlier in the day, the president said the WHO "has been wrong about a lot things." Trump has been critical of the WHO for opposing travel restrictions from China and Europe.
Trump said at the briefing: "We’re going to put a hold on the money sent to the WHO." He later backtracked, saying he was "going to look into" cutting off funding to the WHO and denying his earlier statement.
Acosta seemed to dismiss Trump's condemnation of the organization by turning to the president's own rhetoric.
"Trump slams WHO for 'calling it wrong.' But it was Trump who was calling it wrong for weeks on the Coronavirus. The WHO called the outbreak a pandemic on March 11. Trump cited the WHO in an address to nation on same day," Acosta tweeted, including a link to the transcript of Trump's Oval Office address.
The reporter expressed a similar sentiment on-air.
"Yes, they have their flaws. They've been criticized for that but said they've been calling it wrong throughout this crisis," Acosta told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. "But it's worth noting, Wolf, on March 11, when the president gave that Oval Office address to the nation... he cited the World Health Organization because on that very same day, the WHO declared that the coronavirus outbreak had become a pandemic."
Critics were unsparing.
"Oh ffs. You can criticize Trump without whitewashing the extent to which the WHO has pooped the bed for months on end," Daily Caller investigative editor Peter J. Hasson reacted.
"The 'but' in [this] tweet implies that the WHO wasn't calling it wrong. It was. The WHO got it wrong," Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy wrote.
"CNN will never, ever, ever concede a point if it makes Trump right. They don’t care about facts. They’re a propaganda outlet," radio host Jason Rantz tweeted.
CNN did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
The WHO has praised China for its transparency on the virus, despite analysts saying more people died of COVID-19 than the country’s official tally.
WHO increasingly has been the focus of questions about its response to the coronavirus pandemic, including information it tweeted in January that quoted "preliminary" findings from Chinese officials that downplayed the seriousness of the virus.
The United States has been the single largest contributor to the WHO. The most recent invoice from the WHO to the United States, one of many countries funding the organization, was for nearly $116 million per year. The United States also voluntarily has given between approximately $100 million and $400 million more per year to the WHO for specific projects -- contributions that totaled over $400 million in 2017, the most recent year for which figures were available.
That meant the United States contributed over $500 million in total to the WHO that year, just under one-quarter of the organization's yearly budget. The WHO's total budget for 2016 and 2017 combined was over $4 billion.
Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly contributed to this report.