CNN Host Confronts Trump Campaign Staffer on Trump’s Testing ‘Joke’: Are Dead, Unemployed Americans ‘Funny to You?’
CNN’s Brianna Keilar interviewed Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh on Monday, in what became an intense 13-minute questioning over President Donald Trump’s Saturday rally in Tulsa.
The interview began with Murtaugh rejecting reports that the rally’s attendance numbers were below the campaign’s expectations. Murtaugh blamed the poor attendance on “the threat of violent protesters” outside the venue, as well “your network and the entirety of mainstream news media telling people the Trump rally is about the most dangerous place you could be because of the coronavirus.”
“I think the fact that 12,000 people decided to show up anyway is quite an achievement,” said Murtaugh, using an attendance number touted by the campaign (Tulsa officials said some 6,000 people attended). He then mocked Joe Biden over the “enthusiasm gap” between the Democratic candidate and Trump.
“Does Joe Biden have advanced staff that is testing positive for Covid?” Keilar asked, referencing the six campaign staffers that helped prepare the rally and tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I don’t know,” Murtaugh answered, “because I don’t think people pay very much attention to Joe Biden’s campaign and everyone seems focused on the president’s re-election campaign.”
After Murtaugh accused Biden of campaigning from his basement, Keilar invoked Trump’s recent visit to the White House’s bunker to say “I got to be honest I’m surprised you bring it up. Because there’s really only one person who sought refuge in a basement recently.”
Keilar eventually returned to the staffers on the Trump campaign who contracted coronavirus:
You call this a breakthrough in the age of the coronavirus, that the rally proves it’s okay to get together in large groups. I wonder how you can say that responsibly when you have advanced staff that has tested positive for coronavirus. And we’re here just a couple days from the rally when you know full well that you won’t know if people contracted coronavirus for several days, to up to two weeks, after this event. How do you say that responsibly that this is an example of why people can go out in groups like we saw in this arena where people were not even practicing the precautions that the president’s task force wants them to practice?
The two battled over the implications of Oklahoma’s recent spike in case numbers before eventually moving on to Trump calling the virus “the kung flu.” Murtaugh claimed Trump was trying to hold China accountable with the remark, while Keilar brushed through the deflections to state, “It’s just a fact. It’s a racist comment.”
Finally, the interview arrived at Trump’s remark that he asked staff to “slow the testing”, which prompted Keilar to ask if Trump has directed officials to do that. “I understand there’s not much of a sense of humor at CNN,” Murtaugh said as he launched into the White House’s “joke” defense for Trump’s remarks.
“I mean, 120,000 Americans dead and millions of Americans unemployed. I do not think that is funny. Do you think that is funny?” Keilar asked. Murtaugh continued to defend Trump’s “ironic humor” while Keilar once again inquired “Is it funny Tim? Dead Americans? Unemployed Americans? Is that funny to you?”
Murtaugh wouldn’t answer directly, so Keilar ended with “It is not funny that Americans are dying, it is not funny that they are unemployed.”
Watch above, via CNN.
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