Tucker Carlson began his show Monday night with quite a string of misleading and/or outright false statements, including an attempt to pretend that Tucker himself and other far-right figures didn’t complain about any and all attempts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“A year ago — just a year ago — most Americans understood that social distancing was a form of punishment. It’s not good for man to be alone. That was one of the very first observations in the book that forms the basis of Western civilization,” Tucker said, attempting to ascribe slightly more influence to the Bible than it really has.
“And we’ve lived accordingly. Apart from the death penalty, the harshest things we do to criminals in this country include separating them from other people. Prisoners have chosen lethal injection over solitary confinement. That’s how badly human beings need to be close to one another.”
What Tucker is talking about there, to be perfectly clear, is condemned prisoners already on death row waiving their rights to appeal. All death row inmates are kept in isolation — on average, prisoners wait for 15 years on death row before their sentences are carried out. It’s a human rights concern.
But Tucker wasn’t really worried about death-row inmates. He was worried about his viewers being pressured to avoid spreading COVID-19.
“When they told us to say far apart from each other last spring in the name of public health, it was an enormous sacrifice, whether or not we understood it at the time,” Tucker droned on.
“But because this was a trusting and law-abiding country, we obeyed that order. We barely grumbled about it. We assumed they knew best. Six feet from each other. That was social distancing. It was the law and most of us followed that law.”
It’s very important to note that Tucker did grumble — and very often — about efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. And he did not assume public health experts “knew best.”
On March 23, 2020, Tucker said that “you can’t just let epidemiologists run a country.” On April 2, he said that only the “elderly and the immunocompromised” needed to quarantine, and everyone else should be allowed to go on as normal. On April 7, he said the pandemic “looks like” it’s over and so we really needed to end all shutdowns.
More than 530,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. Almost all of them died after Tucker said the pandemic looked like it was over.
Tucker kept going with complaints about social distancing rules.
“But where did that law come from? Who did the scientific research that determined six feet was the safest distance apart from other people that you could be? Somebody should have asked that question last spring, but as far as we know, nobody did ask it,” Tucker said, describing a fact that many people know.
“It turns out the research that formed the basis of that law came from a German hygienist named Carl Flugge. It was Flugge who decided that six-foot separations were necessary to slow the spread of pathogens. The CDC went with Flugge’s judgment. What the CDC didn’t tell us was that Carl Flugge had been dead for a hundred years.
“His research on social distancing was published in the 19th century before most Americans had electricity or indoor plumbing. So why is that research still guiding public health policy in this country in 2021?” he asked.
Then Tucker’s rant took a new misleading turn.
“It’s a good question. Experts don’t seem to have a good answer. Last year one of the top aerosol scientists in Australia, a woman called Lidia Morawska, likened social distancing regulations to a cult ritual,” Tucker said, before quoting Morawska.
“The dogma was born. Like any dogma, it’s extremely difficult to change people’s minds and change the dogmas,” Tucker quoted Morawska as saying.
“So dogma posing as science. It was all just faith-based,” Tucker said falsely. “And it had massive consequences. Millions of American school children have not been educated for a year because the CDC turned century-old German theories about tuberculosis into a kind of modern state-enforced religious faith. Think about that. It’s enough to make you feel sick.”
A couple of things. First, going to school over the internet is still education, even if it’s not ideal.
Second: Tucker quotes Morawska as if she supports his anti-mask, anti-lockdown agenda, and that is not true at all. Morawska and her colleagues have endorsed a more nuanced approach to social distancing rules than the simple “stay six feet apart from everyone” tack Tucker is whining about.
The real concern for Morawska is that six feet might not be far enough to keep you safe under certain circumstances — specifically indoors, where wearing a mask may not prevent infection no matter how far apart you are if the room is poorly ventilated or you just hang around too long. According to Morawska, the six-feet standard just simplifies the issue of airborne spread too much.
But Tucker framed her quote as being against social distancing measures. Something that is not true.
Last year, Fox News argued in court is that Tucker Carlson is not credible as a source of news and does not state “actual facts” on his show.
You can watch the quoted portion of Monday’s episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News in the video embedded up at the top of this article.