CBS News "60 Minutes" highlighted its own previous segments after a senior Trump official questioned the integrity of its journalism and commitment to remain apolitical.
Peter Navarro, President Donald Trump's trade adviser and the policy coordinator for the Defense Production Act, conducted an interview in which he posed a question for the interviewer while defending the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"You say this could not have been anticipated," CBS correspondent Bill Whitaker said to Navarro in an interview. "Intelligence agencies anticipated it, other foreign countries ..."
Navarro interrupted: "Well, let me push back a little bit."
"If an intelligence agency said 'a global pandemic could happen,' I'm sure they've been saying that for decades," Navarro said. "And nobody took them seriously. Why? Well, black swans are hard to sell. And this was the 500-year flood."
"You can line up every president since then and say, 'Why didn't you think this can happen again?' But that's not productive right now," Navarro added. "Have that episode and I challenge you — show me the '60 Minutes' episode a year ago, two years ago, or during the Obama administration, during the Bush administration that said 'Hey a global pandemic is coming. You gotta do X, Y, and Z. And by the way, we would shut down the entire global economy to fight it.'"
"Show me that episode, then you'll have some credence in terms of attacking the Trump administration for not being prepared," Navarro said.
"I guarantee you we did," Whitaker responded.
CBS then immediately played numerous clips of their past coverage of deadly diseases in the last 15 years, a segment that also included an appearance of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the current director of the US's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"Right now, if we had an explosion of an H5N1, we would not be prepared for that," Fauci said in 2005, in reference to the avian flu.
Navarro has been scrutinized in recent days after several news reports indicated he warned the Trump administration that up to 30% of Americans could be infected with the novel coronavirus. In a memo Navarro reportedly drafted for Trump, he wrote that the US death toll could range "on the order of a half a million American souls."
Axios reported that in one memo dated January 29, Navarro wrote up one scenario in which up to 543,000 Americans could die from the disease and cost an estimated $5.7 trillion.
Trump has denied seeing a memo, despite reports saying he was told as early as January.
Navarro defended the administration's response and said any evidence to the contrary was "like, the fake news stuff."
"No apologies here from this administration," Navarro said. "We are, we are doing better and more than any other president could've done."
"Sir, this is the best you can?" Whitaker asked.
"You say, 'This is the best you can?' It's, like, oh, somebody coulda done better. Really? Who coulda done better on this? I mean, really, think about this," Navarro replied.
In a separate monologue, Whitaker later told viewers: "Navarro was at times more interested in questioning '60 Minutes's' record, than in discussing preparations the Trump administration made for this global pandemic."
Over 555,160 people in the US tested positive for the coronavirus as of Sunday evening, and more than 22,000 have died.