The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the shifting role of healthcare evidence in public health presentations. This article investigates the rhetoric of those presentations as a phenomenon indicating both the commitment to evidence-based public health messaging and its political loading in three interlinked case studies: computer-generated imagery ; ‘podium’ presentation and the NSO Fleming leak of COVID-19 contact tracing data. The pandemic has seen healthcare evidence attain ever-greater visibility in public forums, and those forums have themselves undergone rapid transformation. ‘Podium’ presentations such as press conferences have featured colourful imagery, and the manifold visualisations of SARS-CoV-2 which have accompanied television broadcasts and web pages display an insistent internal rhetoric. I analyse both forms of rhetoric for what they say about the ‘forensic’ moment created by COVID-19, and evaluate each in relation to Weizman’s conception of the forum, which enables both ‘frontstage’ corporate and governmental image-building and public scrutiny. This paper evaluates the politics of the presentational strategies which have arisen around COVID-19 and the ethical potential of the forum.