White House trade adviser Peter Navarro went on the offensive during a “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday night by falsely accusing the show of never covering pandemics that occurred before President Donald Trump entered office.
When CBS correspondent Bill Whitaker pressed Navarro on Trump’s failure to respond to early warnings in January of the looming COVID-19 pandemic, the adviser deflected with a bogus claim that Whitaker’s show had not reported on outbreaks during former President Barack Obama and George W. Bush’s tenures.
“I challenge you: Show me the ’60 Minutes’ episode a year ago, two years ago, or during the Obama administration, during the Bush administration, that said, ‘Hey, global pandemic’s coming, you gotta do X, Y, and Z, and by the way, we would shut down the entire global economy to fight it,’” Navarro told Whitaker.
“Show me that episode, then you’ll have some credence in terms of attacking the Trump administration for not being prepared,” he continued.
“I guarantee you we did,” Whitaker replied.
Immediately after the correspondent made his rebuttal, the show rolled clips of its coverage of the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009 and the spread of H5N1 in 2005, which happened to include an interview with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, who currently serves on the White House’s task force against the coronavirus.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that multiple officials in the intelligence community and Trump’s own administration had urged the President to take action on the rising COVID-19 pandemic months ago.
Navarro himself sent a memo to the White House on January 29 pushing for the administration to prepare for the outbreak.
Watch Whitaker and Navarro’s exchange below:
When we interviewed Peter Navarro, the White House official tasked with coordinating national PPE supplies, he was, at times, more interested in questioning 60 Minutes' record than discussing the Trump administration’s preparations for COVID-19. https://t.co/ikzbCJrI5l pic.twitter.com/NQZOQwcI8y
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) April 13, 2020