CNN's Keilar gets in testy exchange with White House official: 'You're wasting everyone's time with this'

CNN anchor Brianna Keilar had a testy on-air interview with White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Thursday as they discussed the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The back-and-forth came after Keiler raised a Thursday report that includes photos of nurses in proper personal protective equipment, or PPE, underneath garbage bags.

“Give me 20 seconds, Brianna. Let’s not sensationalize this crisis at a time where we create more anxiety or panic behavior with people," Navarro responded. "So please, as you report this crisis, please keep in mind that to the extent that it's done, it makes our job here harder, and it makes the health care professional jobs here harder."


“I am not sensationalizing anything,” Keilar shot back. "I'm trafficking in facts."

"Your government knew in the summer when it did a drill that if this happened, this would be a problem and there was a lack of preparation, which is why we have you on to talk about the supply chain," she later said. "Right now, it looks like the capacity for the U.S. is going to be about 200,000 ventilators and what experts are saying is there could be a million needed. Are you going to be able to meet that demand?”

After Navarro blamed China for not warning the U.S. sooner and suggesting the Trump administration had inherited an antiquated system from the Obama administration to handle a pandemic of this magnitude, Keiler again interjected.

“You’re wasting everyone’s time with this. Peter, why are you even talking about this? It’s 2020. The president was elected in 2016. Can you get to a million ventilators?” she asked.

“You keep interrupting me. Let’s just have a conversation here. You keep talking in my ear and you won’t let me talk. May I speak, please?” Navarro asked, before stating 1 million ventilators was a number that was "way, way, way out" on a potential timeline and "wildly over what we need."

“I think what’s important for CNN here is to report this in a sober way, without frightening America, and just having reasonable conversations when somebody from the White House comes on instead of just shouting in our ear,” Navarro added.


“Peter, I will tell you that one way that I think a lot of people are calming down is when they have information and even if it’s bad news, they know the size of the problem and the government has a plan for it,” the CNN anchor shot back. “That’s what we’re trying to get with you. You’re in charge of the supply chain. That’s the most pressing issue right now. I don’t know that I actually have too much of a clearer picture having spoken to you today.”

The heated back-and-forth comes as the death toll exceeds 1,000 in the U.S., while cases have nearly reached 80,000, according to recent data from the Johns Hopkins University.

Late Wednesday, the Senate voted 96-0 to approve a stimulus package aimed at jump-starting an economy devastated by the coronavirus crisis, providing aid for people impacted economically, as well as hospitals, small businesses and industries.

Of the more than 1,100 deaths in the U.S. tied to coronavirus, at least 385 were in New York. Cases currently exceed 79,000 in the U.S.