Tucker Carlson is not your friend — Fox News host joins chorus of pandemic charlatans

He's part of the problem

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Rule No. 1: Never give Fox News credit for doing the right thing. Ever.

Because the praise will be short-lived and soon retracted, since Fox News and its hosts are not capable of honest change, and they're not capable of doing good. Even during a pandemic. And that includes Tucker Carlson, who recently received praise for his coronavirus commentaries.

Rupert Murdoch's toxic outlet has done more to unravel public discourse in the United States than any other entity, as it broadcasts a constant stream of divisive, paranoid lies and partisan attacks. Yet despite that history of demagoguery, there continues to be this weird tendency within the Beltway press to try to find silver linings amidst Fox News' misinformation rubble —  a need to suggest there really is some good to be found at Fox News and that lots of honorable, serious people work there, but they get overshadowed by outlandish opinion hosts at night.

It's not true, and lowering the bar for Fox News only helps normalize Trump's radical programming.

The latest example of this failed endeavor came when Tucker Carlson was singled out recently for what seemed to be his fact-based commentaries on the pandemic. As most of Fox News echoed Trump's early calls of the virus as being a "hoax" or a "scam," and mocked calls for action, Carlson warned viewers about a looming crisis. In fact, it was reported it was Carlson, while visiting Trump for two hours at  Mar-a-Lago in Florida, who convinced the president to take the threat seriously. According to his telling, Carlson arrived in Florida with an urgent message for the president.

What followed was a flood of media attention. Vanity Fair published a 6,000-word (!) interview with Carlson, because that's how important a role he played in the coronavirus story, apparently.

That spotlight was shown at a time when some observers suggested Fox News was waking up to the seriousness of the pandemic threat, and had "pivoted" its coverage in a more responsible direction. But that didn't last long. And that's why Rule No. 1 is so important and foolproof: Never give Fox News credit for doing the right thing.

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Instead of providing accurate information about a pandemic that targets older Americans — like Fox News viewers — Fox News has veered back into its preferred ditch. And today it functions as a fountain of disinformation and Trump propaganda.

And that includes Tucker Carlson. Boy, does that include Carlson. After ringing the alarm bells about the novel coronavirus, Calrson raised little or no objection this week when Trump embraced the possibly deadly plan to urge Americans back to work soon, despite the fact that the pandemic has not peaked here yet.

On Monday night, Carlson sat by silently while Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick claimed that grandparents would be willing to die of the virus if it meant saving the U.S. economy for their grandchildren. "Let’s get back to work. Let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it. And those of us who are 70-plus [years old], we’ll take care of ourselves," said Patrick. "But don’t sacrifice the country.”

The following night, Carlson sat by silently again while former Fox News anchor Brit Hume defended that exact same claim, suggesting it was reasonable that the elderly in American essentially be sacrificed. He also suggested there's been an overreaction: "We don't shut down the economy to save every single life that's threatened by a wide-spread disease. We just don't."

This week, Carlson gave an open platform to Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who mindlessly downplayed the virus threat: "For a small segment of our population, it's true, the coronavirus can kill you. But you know what else can kill you? Poverty. Hunger. Losing the entire economy." Carlson agreed, insisting this week, "You can't let a team of epidemiologists run a country of 320 million."

And that's when Carlson wasn't blindly attacking New York Gov. Cuomo and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ("ugly race politics"),  or launching larger, racist attacks against Democrats, claiming they value protecting the jobs of immigrants over the jobs of Americans. Meanwhile, Carlson has referred to the pandemic as the "Wuhan virus" more than 40 times, lapping every other Fox News host in terms using that xenophobia phrase.

As for the federal government's utterly incompetent response to the pandemic, Carlson put that at the feet of "our health establishment," whatever that means.

Tucker Carlson is just another pandemic charlatan at Fox News. He deserves no praise.

UPDATE: Two weeks ago today I wrote a piece urging mainstream news outlets to stop airing Trump's dangerous and misleading pandemic declarations: "As the coronavirus crisis becomes increasingly dire, news organization have to choose between covering the truth, and covering Trump."

I'm happy to report that this week, KUOW, a National Public Radio station in Seattle, announced it would no longer air Trump's pandemic briefings from the White House, "due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time.”

Let’s hope more news outlets follow that lead.

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GOOD STUFF:

The Washington Post recently published a wonderful reported essay on Nancy Pelosi,  by Karen Tumulty. For my money, the Speaker of the House does not get enough credit for her accomplishments, and particularly for her stalwart resistance to Trump. I find a lot of the Pelosi media coverage often wrapped in Beltway snark and creeping condescension. I'm pretty sure if a man had amassed a winning resume like hers, the coverage would look much different.

Thankfully, the Post piece comes without the baggage: "Her second act has been, by some measures, even more impressive than her first. Pelosi’s discipline and maturity, her refusal to be intimidated by Trump’s bluster, have energized the Democratic base and kept a volatile and impulsive president off balance."

Read, "The troublemaker with the gavel."

FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK:

Aretha Franklin, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"

Last year, "Amazing Grace," the Aretha Franklin gospel music documentary, was finally released more than four decades after it was filmed in Los Angeles, at the intimate New Temple Missionary Baptist Church. (While she was alive, Franklin objected to the movie being released. Her family gave the okay after her passing.)

If you haven't seen it, you really should, as Franklin, the daughter of a famous Baptist minister, returns to her gospel roots at the height of her R&B and pop music fame. It's an electrifying depiction of a uniquely American art form, performed by the Queen at her soaring prime — plus you get to spot an awed (and young) Mick Jagger in the church pews.

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer