Tucker Carlson was unhappy Wednesday with Dr. Anthony Fauci, after Fauci criticized comments Tucker made the night before in which he appeared to suggest that COVID vaccines aren’t safe and that this information is being concealed by the government.
What was weird however is that Carlson responded Wednesday by first denying that he said the things he said, and then by essentially repeating them. You can watch his latest comments above now, but read on for the full context.
So some catch up: On Tuesday, Tucker talked about what he argued has been a severe miscommunication problem from medical science leaders regarding the vaccines, in particular messaging that suggests people’s lives cannot meaningfully change even after they’ve received the vaccine — which actually we’ll concede is a good point. Tucker also brought up the pause in distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a tiny fraction of people who developed a blood clot disorder after taking it.
This led him to say, “It is possible, in fact, that this vaccine is more dangerous than they’re indicating it is.”
And then later in the rant, he appeared to suggest that the vaccines may not work at all, and that it’s possible that a conspiracy of some sort might be covering that up. If you don’t believe us, here is what he said, verbatim:
“Experts say it is not entirely clear when it will be considered okay for people who are fully vaccinated to stop wearing masks. At some point, no one is asking this but everyone should be, what is this about? If vaccines work, why are vaccinated people still banned from living normal lives? Honestly, what’s the answer to that, it doesn’t make any sense at all. If the vaccine is effective there’s no reason for people who’ve received a vaccine to wear masks or avoid physical contact. So maybe it doesn’t work and they’re simply not telling you that. Well you’d hate to think that especially if you’ve gotten two shots but what’s the other potential explanation? We can’t think of one.”
Yes, Tucker actually said this. Perhaps it was just a rhetorical device, but if so, he didn’t say that was the case.
So it is that on Wednesday morning during an appearance on CNN, Fauci was asked directly about Tucker’s comments. Fauci began by calling Carlson’s rant “a typical crazy conspiracy theory,” and added that he thinks those comments were “certainly not helpful to the public health of this nation or even globally.”
Which brings us back to Tucker, who played a clip of Fauci’s comments on Wednesday’s episode of his Fox News show, and then assumed an outraged posture as he responded to them.
“Wait a second, who’s doubting that vaccines work? For the record we never for a minute doubted it. We bought all of that stuff completely at face value,” said Tucker, who you’ll recall asked if “they” are “simply not telling you” that the COVID vaccine doesn’t work just 24 hours earlier.
“We believe in science. Actually probably trust the pharmaceutical companies a little bit too much. So when they said this stuff works, we never questioned it,” Tucker continued, again just a day after he specifically questioned it. “We assume they have detailed studies showing that it does work. We still think that. The only reason we’re asking the question is because the people in charge are acting like it doesn’t work. You see the President of the United States wearing a mask outside. You see his vice president doing the same thing. You see the guy in charge of coronavirus response telling us that again, after you’ve had the vaccine you must remain under the restrictions.”
“So we’re asking questions that is rooted in science,” Tucker continued. “Which is ‘why, if the stuff works, why can’t you live like it works?’ What are you really telling us here? And by the way, this again is not a trick question, we’re not playing word games here. What’s the answer? If the coronavirus vaccine prevents you from catching the coronavirus, why are you wearing a mask? Why can’t you eat in a restaurant? And if it doesn’t prevent you from catching the coronavirus, why are we taking it in the first place? Both can’t be true.”
“So that’s the question. It’s not a conspiracy theory. As an American, you should ask it too. If they’re telling you you can’t fly on a plane until you take a vaccination, which by the way won’t allow you to live as you did in 2019, what are they saying? Let’s hope they explain it really soon, before people lose faith not just in them but in science itself,” he concluded.
As we said above, Tucker had some fair points about confusing messaging from authorities on post-vaccination behavior, and the risk this confusion might lead to widespread distrust. But let’s be real: His other comments sound an awful lot like “doubting” that the vaccine works, and the idea that “they” are hiding the truth about vaccine effectiveness or safety sure sounds like a conspiracy theory to us.
But again, it could have just been a rhetorical device that he didn’t bother clarifying. And it’s also important to remember that in 2020 Fox News argued in court that Tucker Carlson should not to be treated like a credible news person, and a judge agreed. So we would recommend looking for COVID-19 information elsewhere.
For the record, the vaccine is highly effective and very safe, and out of the more than 100 million people who have received at least one dose, there have been virtually zero reports of death. The sole exception we can confirm appears to be one of the people who developed a blood clot after taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Watch the full clip above.