After a year of school and business closures, record-setting economic hardships, and the heartbreaking reality so many Americans have had to face in watching their loved ones die, hope is finally on the horizon. Two different COVID-19 vaccinations have been approved and released, with healthcare workers already lining up to be among the first to receive protection from the disease that has completely altered life as we know it up to now.
Ironically (or perhaps just par for the course), many of the same prominent Republicans who spent months downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19 have also jumped to the front of the line to receive their vaccinations—ahead of teachers, essential workers, and even the immunocompromised individuals who are most at risk.
They may not believe in relief for Americans most impacted, or even paid leave for those who get sick, but they certainly believe in the power of the vaccine to protect them from the disease they are willing to sacrifice everyone else to.
So why is conservative commentator Tucker Carlson trying to drum up mistrust in the same vaccine so many members of his own party are rushing to get? Well, because that’s what he does. Spreading lies, conspiracy theories, and fear is his bread and butter.
On his Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson has been sowing the seeds of vaccine distrust for years, even hosting well-known vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in 2017. But his latest comments on the COVID-19 vaccines are not only flat-out wrong, they also threaten to cost countless lives.
On an episode in December, Carlson went on a rant about the COVID-19 vaccinations. “They are planning to force you to take the coronavirus vaccine. It’s so safe, they have to threaten you to take it,” he falsely claimed (there are no current government plans to force COVID-19 vaccines, or any other vaccination for that matter).
At another point, he flung racist accusations, claiming Kamala Harris only wants people “of a certain color” to be vaccinated.
And more recently, he called the vaccine a “marketing campaign” and “tool of social control.”
His rhetoric has gotten so dangerous that Media Matters for America has labeled him “one of the most dangerous peddlers of vaccine misinformation,” releasing a report detailing his history of anti-vaccination propaganda.
All of this is especially concerning because American distrust of the newest vaccinations is already high, with only half of Americans saying they are willing to get vaccinated at this point.
The hesitation makes sense, as so many Americans believe the COVID-19 vaccinations were rushed, not fully understanding the years of research that actually went into developing them. The media hasn’t done the best job educating citizens about the intense testing process involved in ensuring the safety of these vaccines, or in pointing out what we now know to be the long-term impacts of contracting COVID-19 (impacts far more concerning than any side effect ever scientifically linked to modern-day vaccinations).
But what people don’t need right now is monsters like Carlson (who has also dedicated his show to making lewd comments about teenage girls in the past) twisting the truth and drumming up fear without facts or science to back up anything he is saying.
Of course, this is what Carlson does. His own legal team admitted to it in a recent lawsuit where they claimed viewers shouldn’t expect him to report “actual facts,” and should instead know he frequently engages in exaggeration and “non-literal commentary.”
The final opinion in that case, presented by U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil, stated, “Fox persuasively argues, that given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer ‘arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statement he makes.”
In other words: Carlson is a peddler of snake oils, and if you don’t know and accept that going into the viewing of his show, you aren’t a reasonable person yourself.
Unfortunately, our country is currently full of unreasonable Americans who will believe anything, so long as it backs up their pre-determined fears. Fear and mistrust of science, experts, and facts seem to be at an all-time high—while trust in known liars like Carlson only seems to be growing.
Which means this garbage pile of a human is steering people away from a vaccine that could save their lives and help put our country back together when we need it most.
And no one should be entertained by that.
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