CNN anchor Brianna Keilar is not buying former White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx’s attempted image rehab on Monday, invoking the infamous moment Birx remained quiet while then-President Donald Trump suggested injecting bleach to combat coronavirus.
In a lengthy interview with CBS News over the weekend, Dr. Birx—who announced her retirement last month during the White House transition—largely distanced herself from the previous administration and denied she was ever a “Trump apologist.”
Besides saying she “always” considered quitting, Birx claimed she was “censored” by the White House and that Trump was publicly presenting coronavirus charts that she never made. The president was using “parallel data streams” from other sources, she alleged.
During her CNN broadcast on Monday afternoon, Keilar, who had become more outspoken during the Trump era, delivered a lengthy point-by-point takedown of Birx’s narrative, noting that the top doctor helped enable Trump throughout his disastrous handling of a pandemic that has now killed at least 420,000 Americans.
Noting “apology tours and reputation rejuvenation are quite in vogue now” following Trump’s exit, Keilar immediately took issue with Birx’s claim that she was always on the verge of quitting.
“Last March, Birx began the pandemic buttering up President Trump, even as he denied science,” the CNN anchor stated, playing a clip of the ex-United States global AIDS coordinator gushing that Trump was “so attentive to scientific literature” and data.
Keilar, meanwhile, contrasted Birx’s comments last spring with her observation now that Trump was using a “parallel set of data” and that she doesn’t know if the president ever read her daily coronavirus reports.
Eventually, the CNN host brought up the infamous, televised moment in which Trump wondered aloud if ingesting disinfectant or ultraviolet light could be an effective COVID-19 treatment—something that was met with mostly silence by Birx, who was seated off to the side as he spoke.
While Birx told CBS News she “didn’t even know what to do in that moment” and felt she didn’t have a real opportunity to respond at the time, Keilar played footage of Birx publicly defending the president’s comments as merely “musings” days later.
“Her milquetoast answers gave life to really bad advice from Trump,” the CNN anchor pointed out. “And keep in mind, the CDC had to put out a warning on ingesting disinfectants after a spike in calls to poison centers.”
Keilar wrapped up her “Roll the Tape” segment by criticizing Birx for saying that she should have been “more outspoken publicly” during the Trump era, rhetorically asking “so why didn’t she?” before delivering a final snarky takedown.
“To scientists, Birx is a cautionary tale about letting politics and power warp science until it is no longer science,” the anchor exclaimed. “That a doctor can spend 40 years building a reputation that garners respect, being a champion of science and serving others, but if they don’t stand up for science when it counts, when lives are on the line, their reputation can be wiped away. All it takes is a little bleach, and in her case, a small ray of sunlight.”