Carlson broke with Fox News’ usual support of Trump about coronavirus
Fox News host Tucker Carlson is known for his support of all things Trump, but he broke from that — as well as his network and many of his colleagues — criticizing those who have been downplaying the spread of coronavirus, calling it a “very serious problem.”
“People you trust, people you probably voted for, have spent weeks minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem,” Carlson said on Fox News Monday. “‘It’s just partisan politics,’ they say. ‘Calm down. In the end, this is just like the flu.’ Coronavirus will pass.” He continued, saying some may have good intentions but the misinformation may be putting lives at risk.
In what sounds like a subtweet of the President, Tucker Carlson says leaders should stop telling people everything will be fine and start telling the truth pic.twitter.com/rP114Oy4vQ
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) March 10, 2020
“They may not know any better,” Carlson said. “Maybe they’re just not paying attention, or maybe they believe they’re serving some higher cause by shading reality. … And there’s an election coming up. Best not to say anything that might help the other side. We get it. But they’re wrong. It’s definitely not just the flu.”
The far-right host did begin the segment pushing his racist perspectives, calling the outbreak “the Chinese coronavirus,” apparently still not grasping that it is, in fact, racist to blame China for America’s poor handling of the outbreak. But he went on to direct his comments towards Trump and his administration specifically for minimizing the impact this virus could have on the U.S.
Carlson said the “surest sign of strength” is to “tell the truth” instead of just “assuring people that everything will be fine,” adding that “tax cuts and lower rates” aren’t likely to revive an economy if its factories, restaurants, and businesses are “shut down to contain the virus.”
Until Carlson’s statements, Fox News has been falling in line with Trump’s downplaying of COVID-19. Host Sean Hannity had Trump on his show last week who told the audience the virus was not a big deal, going against the World Health Organization’s estimate of the virus’s death rate (3.4%) based on a “hunch.” He’s also previously referred to the virus as a “hoax” cooked up by the Democrats during an election year.
“Our country is likely to experience a painful period we are powerless to stop. None of this is justification to panic, we shouldn’t panic. In crisis it’s more important than ever to be calm,” Carlson said.
As of this morning, the U.S. death toll rose to 27 and infections spread to all but a handful of states. The global death toll has now topped 4,000 and the number of confirmed cases approached 115,000. Governors of several states with significant outbreaks have declared states of emergency, including New York, California, and six others.
“Staying calm is not the same as remaining complacent and does not mean assuring people that everything will be fine. We don’t know that,” Carlson continued. “Instead it’s better to tell the truth. That is always the surest sign of strength.”