The mainstream media is praising Tucker Carlson for a monologue he delivered on his Fox show last night recommending that the new coronavirus be taken seriously. Here's CNN:
While some of his colleagues have downplayed coronavirus fears, Tucker Carlson over the last few weeks has taken a much different approach. And that approach was on full display Monday night when Carlson seemed to call out both President Donald Trump and some of his colleagues on Fox News — without naming them specifically — for dismissing what he told viewers is 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. "'It's just partisan politics,' they say. 'Calm down. In the end this was just like the flu and people die from that every year. Coronavirus will pass."
Carlson said people who make such arguments may have good intentions, but they're wrong.... Carlson called it a "major event," stressing, "It's definitely not just the flu."
At one point in his monologue, it appeared as if Carlson were speaking directly to Trump. Carlson said the "surest sign of strength" is to "tell the truth" instead of just "assuring people that everything will be fine."
On Monday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson appeared to indirectly criticize President Trump and Republicans over their response to the novel coronavirus, accusing U.S. leaders of downplaying the crisis....
Referring to the outbreak as “an epidemic,” Carlson kicked off his show with a grave warning.
“People you know will get sick,” he said. “Some may die. This is real.”
And The Daily Beast:
Carlson kicked off his primetime Fox News program by highlighting the latest number of reported coronavirus cases in the United States, noting that the real number of Americans infected is “without question far higher” and that we’ll soon “have a better sense of just how much higher.”
With the Dow Jones suffering a record drop on Monday, the Fox News host pointed out that it won’t be long before the outbreak will cause economic damage that will last for years. He then took issue with those on the right who have minimized the spread of the disease for partisan purposes.
The authors of all these stories seem to regard Carlson's coronavirus stance as a good thing, although they all note aspects of the monologue that they found troubling. The Beast:
After mocking the left for complaining about racist reactions to the virus due to its origin in China—all while simultaneously airing a graphic that blared “The Chinese Coronavirus”—Carlson added the “other side has not been especially helpful either.” (The Fox host has made a habit recently of claiming that “wokeness” and “identity politics” will leave Americans vulnerable to the virus.)
The host didn’t entirely deviate from conservative talking points though. He ridiculed people for taking offense to covid-19 being called “the Chinese coronavirus” or the “Wuhan virus,” labels that critics on the left have decried as racist and diversionary. Throughout his monologue, Carlson repeatedly made note of the virus’s Chinese origin, a tactic recently used by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.), among other Republicans.
Of note: While Carlson has taken coronavirus seriously, he also asked a guest about the conspiracy theory that the virus was created in a Chinese lab.
But these are all treated as regrettable flaws in an otherwise admirable monologue.
However, there's no contradiction between the reality-based parts of Carlson's monologue and the racist or conspiratorial parts.
What Carlson is doing is showing President Trump and other conservative pundits how to demagogue the coronavirus better. He's saying that if Trump and other Fox hosts are in denial about the seriousness of the problem, they'll lose the opportunity to blame the likely deaths, illnesses, societal disruptions, and economic turbulence on liberals and (especially) non-European foreigners. That's letting a crisis go to waste!
In one way, it would be good if more right-wing demagogues would adopt Carlson's stance: Fewer consumers of conservative media would dismiss the virus as harmless, and there'd be less community transmission in America.
But Carlson will never deliver this message without fanning the flames of liberal-hate and xenophobia. If you don't believe me, check out this transcript of an earlier Carlson monologue in which he refers to the "Chinese coronavirus" no fewer than six times, saying:
The Chinese coronavirus really is Chinese. It arose in that country for the same reason American businesses have sent so many of our jobs there – lack of health and safety standards and endemic corruption.
China did this to the world and we should not pretend otherwise. That's not xenophobia. It's true.
The most bitter irony of all of this is that a few years from now, when every last victim of this virus has recovered or been buried, the Chinese government can easily grow stronger because of this disaster. And America can grow weaker.
That's why Carlson is doing this: He wants his audience to believe foreigners are evil, and he can't understand why the president and other right-wing bloviators are passing up the chance to spread that message.
Posted with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog