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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Rep. Rodney Davis Disputes Alleged Remarks To CNN Reporter

Rodney Davis
Ryan Denham
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis says a CNN reporter misinterpreted his statements on racist rhetoric. Democrats such as Sen. Tammy Duckworth have condemned the alleged remarks.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis on Friday denied reports he said there is no difference between phrases such as "UK variant" and "kung flu" or "China virus" in reference to the coronavirus.

According to CNN reporter Annie Grayer, Davis said it is "all political correctness" to suggest rhetoric contributes to hate crimes against Asian Americans.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth pushed back Friday against what she says are racist remarks that can cause real harm.

"It really unfairly again puts a bullseye on the backs of Asian Americans all across the country to be the subject, to be the victims of attacks, and that is not acceptable," said Duckworth.

On Twitter, Davis said his words were misinterpreted.

"In our conversation, I clearly stated violence should not be tolerated in any group," said Davis. "We've got to do what we can to make sure that we eradicate it in America and every chance we get."

He said he's never used the words "kung flu" to describe the coronavirus.

"'There's hate crimes against all different groups, but we're seeing it all across the spectrum of humanity, and it's got to change,'" said Davis.

Davis said the focus on his words is taking away from the families affected by an Atlanta mass killing of six people of Asian descent.

"It's now being used by certain political groups to try to label everyone as a racist instead of let's let people in Georgia and law enforcement officials do their job to make sure that we get justice for those victims," said Davis.

Democratic Party leaders in Illinois have condemned the words attributed to Davis.

"Rodney Davis’ decision to double-down on offensive and dangerous rhetoric while the country mourns and confronts violence and discrimination against Asian-Americans is troubling," said Kristina Zahorik, president of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs' Association, in a statement. "Davis should apologize, and work to set an example for his constituents by being part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

Duckworth said she is going to call Davis.

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Christine Hatfield, a graduate student in University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program, is WGLT and WCBU's PAR intern for the first half of 2021.
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