Jen Psaki mocks Fox reporter with reminder Trump suggested injecting Lysol to fight COVID

Press Secretary Jen Psaki answers questions from members of the press Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chandler West)
Press Secretary Jen Psaki answers questions from members of the press Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chandler West)Photo: White House

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki shut down a Fox News journalist’s insinuation that Donald Trump had a more science-based approach to the COVID-19 pandemic by bringing up his famous suggestion that people could be injected with Lysol to fight the virus as “almost a cleaning.”

Fox’s Peter Doocy asked if it’s really President Joe Biden’s fault that many Americans are refusing to get vaccinated, despite the Biden administration’s initiatives to increase the vaccination rate and how the most prominent vaccine-hesitant politicians are Republicans.

Related: Jen Psaki shuts down reporter demanding China pay “reparations” for COVID-19

“Last year around this time, the previous administration was rushing to get a vaccine authorized and the now-president said, ‘I trust vaccines.  I trust scientists.  But I don’t trust Donald Trump.  And at this moment, the American people can’t either,'” Doocy said, referring to September 2020 comments made by Biden suggesting that Trump would try to get an untested vaccine approved before the election, something that ultimately didn’t happen.

“I think it’s safe to say he still doesn’t trust Donald Trump, so that hasn’t changed,” Psaki replied dryly. “But he does trust scientists.”

Doocy clarified his question, saying that he meant that “at the time when Donald Trump is out there saying, ‘We’re going to have a vaccine in the next couple weeks, next couple months,’ and Joe Biden is out on the campaign trail saying, ‘Don’t trust Donald Trump,’ did that create any kind of vaccine hesitancy?”

“I would note that at the time, just for context, the former president was also suggesting people inject versions of poison into their veins to cure COVID,” Psaki said. “So I think that’s a relevant point.”

She also said that the data doesn’t support the idea that Biden’s remarks about how Trump might politicize the vaccine approval process increased vaccine hesitancy.

Psaki was referring to comments made by Trump during an April 24, 2020 presentation by then-Acting Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology William Bryan about how Lysol and other disinfectants are effective at killing COVID-19 on surfaces.

“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks [the virus] out in one minute,” Trump said during the on-air presentation. “And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that.”

Shortly after, Reckitt Benckiser, the makers of Lysol, issued a statement to consumers “that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion, or any other route).”

Doocy’s suggestion that people who refuse the vaccine are doing so because they listened to Biden instead of Trump – and then stopped listening to Biden immediately after his September 2020 comments – does not square with reality. A Public Religion Research Institute/Interfaith Youth Core poll found that Republicans were more likely than independents and Democrats to report vaccine hesitancy and white Evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to report vaccine hesitancy, both groups that are unlikely to make major decisions based on comments from a Democratic politician.

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