Days after confounding MSNBC anchor Katy Tur with his distortion of facts, the communications director for President Donald Trump's 2020 campaign—Tim Murtaugh—is once again frustrating journalists with his portrayal of Trump's handling of the virus.
Murtaugh appeared in a segment with CNN anchor Brianna Keilar, who didn't mince words when it came to correcting him.
"I think you're doing a real disservice to Americans." @brikeilarcnn clashes with Trump Campaign Comms. Dir. Tim M… https://t.co/N9WRsIUGeG— CNN Newsroom (@CNN Newsroom)1595359824.0
One point of contention came with the assertion that former President Barack Obama left the Trump administration without ventilators in the national medical equipment stockpile.
Murtaugh claimed that Obama was responsible for the ventilator shortage in the early stages of the outbreak.
Keilar corrected him:
"Obama left 19 thousand ventilators in a plan, so you're lying. And you're talking like it's 2017. It is 2020, sir. It is 2020. It has been almost four years."
When Murtaugh tried to take refuge in oft-repeated talking points about the strength of Trump's testing program, Keilar said:
"What testing program? That the President has instituted. It's not a federal program, Tim. He left it up to the states."
But the major point of contention came in a discussion about hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug the Trump administration fixated on as a potential cure for the virus. The evidence of hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment for the virus is slim at best, and the drug often results in life-threatening side effects.
Nevertheless, Murtaugh claimed:
"The entirety of the media was dead set against anyone ever talking about [hydroxychloroquine] simply because the President expressed optimism in its role as a treatment."
"That's not why. It's because it kills people, Tim."
Keilar pointed out that hydroxychloroquine studies have been shut down because of the grim side effects compared to the overall ineffectiveness of treating the virus.
Murtaugh said that CNN "practically accused the President of murder" because he encouraged doctors to prescribe the drug. He then said that Dr. Anthony Fauci of the virus task force had endorsed the drug.
He went on to correctly say that it had been used for malaria for decades, but Keilar pointed out that the drug is given to healthy people in order to prevent malaria. It's not given to those on their death bed from the virus.
After Murtaugh continued praising hyrdroxychloroquine, Keilar cut the interview short, saying:
"Tim, we are done with this conversation. I think that you're just really confusing the situation and it does no service to anyone's health, especially."
Keilar echoed the sentiment in a Twitter thread.
Today on my show @TimMurtaugh made the false and irresponsible claim that hydroxycholorquine is safe and effective.… https://t.co/DBRa4tVNf9— Brianna Keilar (@Brianna Keilar)1595365888.0
Others were just as exasperated at Murtaugh as Keilar was.
@CNNnewsroom @brikeilarcnn The clown administration can’t gaslight a Pandemic and need to own their failed response .— LosAck (@LosAck)1595361882.0
@CNNnewsroom @brikeilarcnn @TimMurtaugh talks about the 800K Covid-19 tests, this admin is doing per day, as if the… https://t.co/d2PdAY2yG4— X͟͟L͟͟V͟͟2P͟͟R͟͟I͟͟S͟͟O͟͟N͟͟ (@X͟͟L͟͟V͟͟2P͟͟R͟͟I͟͟S͟͟O͟͟N͟͟)1595362175.0
@CNNnewsroom @brikeilarcnn Another spineless stooge for Trump trying to profit off American taxpayers— ann77450 (@ann77450)1595360466.0
They commended her for holding Murtaugh's feet to the fire.
@CNNnewsroom @brikeilarcnn Good interview, fair, tough, no BS accepted. Doing great work, thanks Brianna!— TheRealDG (@TheRealDG)1595371068.0
@CNNnewsroom @brikeilarcnn Great interview! I watched live and you were impressive.— Nobel Un (@Nobel Un)1595361567.0
@CNNnewsroom @brikeilarcnn This is how you interview! Thank you— Madt (@Madt)1595368039.0
@CNNnewsroom @brikeilarcnn Thank you for continuing to be the responsible journalist that you are and for not being… https://t.co/kU2LN0kIs4— Donna B (@Donna B)1595369996.0
Today, the President gave his first press briefing as part of the virus task force in months.