White House trade adviser Peter Navarro showed up Sunday on CNN for yet another trainwreck interview that featured him obfuscating and loudly arguing with the host while refusing to answer direct questions.
In this instance, however, State of the Union moderator Jake Tapper finally had enough, cutting the seemingly pointless interview short after Navarro said the host and CNN are not being honest with the public.
Navarro set the tone for the combative morning chat when he took Tapper’s first question about the disastrous and deadly West Coast wildfires and twisted it into a pat on the back for the president.
“One of the things I’d like to do before we get started though is I’d really like to congratulate President Trump on being nominated for the peace prize, the Nobel Peace Prize. Because this last week, if you look at the signal rather than the noise, he brokered a second deal with Bahrain,” Navarro cheerfully boasted.
“I want to keep talking about the fires in your former home state of California,” an unimpressed Tapper shot back.
Even though Navarro co-wrote a paper 20 years ago stating that climate change is “one of the most important environmental of our time”—something Tapper pointed out—the presidential adviser claimed it was “not my expertise” when pressed on anthropogenic climate change’s impact on the fires.
Navarro, meanwhile, said that the wildfires were “last on my list” to talk about with CNN, adding that he did want to talk about Trump’s remarks on the coronavirus to veteran journalist Bob Woodward.
“Fine, you want to talk about that? Let’s turn to that,” Tapper responded. “I want you to take a listen to what President Trump told Woodward in private on February 7th.”
Tapper played the audio recording of the president saying that the virus was airborne and deadlier than even the most “strenuous flus,” comparing those comments to Trump weeks later claiming they didn’t know COVID-19 was more dangerous than the flu.
“He was misleading the American people, why?” Tapper wondered aloud. And, of course, this is where the interview began to fly off the rails.
Navarro took the opportunity to applaud his boss for issuing a partial travel restriction on China in late January while complaining that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called it “xenophobic and racist,” something Tapper said wasn’t true.
“We’ll do the fact-check on that,” Navarro groused.
“I just did,” the CNN anchor fired back.
Eventually, Navarro pointed to his February 9 White House memo as proof that the president did not publicly downplaying the virus, causing Tapper to interrupt and object that the Trump aide was dodging on every question.
“This is not fair, Jake. You’re constantly interrupting me and you’re not letting me talk,” Navarro complained.
“You’re not answering my question,” Tapper replied.
“You just don’t like the answer,” Navarro further grumbled.
The Trump adviser whined that Tapper was “cherry-picking” and “having it both ways,” alleging that “nobody knew” how catastrophic the virus was in February.
“He knew it was deadlier than the flu and he was lying to the American public two weeks later,” Tapper sighed, adding: “I’m not cherry-picking. He was not honest with the American people. You’re not answering the question.”
Navarro, in return, accused Tapper and CNN of “not being honest with the American people,” threatening the host to “go there,” leading Tapper to finally cut the interview off while the trade aide was still talking.
“And I would just like to remind the American people that the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, and the United States has more than 20 percent of the world’s coronavirus deaths,” the anchor said afterward. “That is a fact. It does not matter how many times he insults CNN.”