Tucker Carlson continued to spread misinformation about face masks and the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday, a day after he offered praise for the Anti-Mask League from the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and expressed a wish that the U.S had a similar organization for the current pandemic. On Tuesday, Tucker spent a lengthy segment misleading his audience about masks, claiming that masks don’t prevent COVID infections — which isn’t true. And on Wednesday he doubled down on that false rhetoric.
“I wanna tell you by the way that we received a response tonight from the CDC about our segment last night on face masks. A spokesman for the CDC said that our coverage was misleading,” Tucker complained. “Now the spokesman didn’t dispute that we had showed accurate data from the CDC. Including that 85% of people who tested positive for coronavirus in July reported wearing a mask always or often. Instead, the spokesman said this: ‘At no time has CDC guidance suggested that masks were intended to protect the wearers.’
That’s not the full statement, to be clear. There was more displayed on the screen that read: “CDC guidance on masks has clearly stated that wearing a mask is intended to protect other people in case the mask wearer is infected. At no time has CDC guidance suggested that masks were intended to protect the wearers.”
It’s likely that even that wasn’t the full statement from the CDC, which issued an identical statement for a fact check article about this topic that was published on Monday about similarly specious claims made by The Federalist. But for that fact check, the CDC delivered two additional paragraphs of commentary regarding the specific study that these conservative pundits have been using as evidence for their misinformation.
That fact check is quite informative (read it here), and certainly worth a read for anyone still confused about the need for masks.
The actual full statement:
“In studies like the MMWR published in September, it is difficult to detect the effect of an exposure or intervention when it is widely deployed or used. Both cases and controls in the study had high levels of mask use. They were likely achieving sufficient protection within their social network. However, in restaurants and other places where food and beverages are consumed, masks cannot be used.
“Growing evidence increasingly shows that wearing masks in community settings reduces transmission among individuals in that community. There are laboratory studies, animal studies, community and epidemiological studies, as well as policy studies that show masking reduces transmission in communities by blocking exhaled respiratory droplets.”
Tucker only addressed the single sentence from the statement that he read aloud, not even bothering to refer to the idea that masks protect other people from the wearer, even though it’s the core of the argument in favor of mask-wearing. Instead, he bypassed that discussion completely.
“Huh? At no time has the CDC suggested that masks were intended to protect people who wear masks?” Tucker continued to complain. “That’s what they said tonight. Now that would be news to the director of the CDC, Robert Redfield. Here was last month.”
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” then pulled up a clip of Director Redfield saying this: “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”
But Tucker couldn’t handle that.
“This is the CDC? They’re protecting us from this pandemic?” Tucker cried. “They don’t even know what their own director is saying. But whatever you do, don’t question public health experts. Facebook and Twitter and Google will shut you down. Just put your mask on and obey.”
Tucker’s confusion here might have been understandable six months ago, but at this point the science is clear. The primary purpose of masks is to prevent the wearer from spewing the virus all over the place. Many people who have been infected are asymptomatic, and thus many infected people have gone untested. But if everyone wears a mask, as the CDC statement above notes, then the odds of anyone contracting COVID-19 goes down dramatically.
You can watch the quoted portion of Wednesday’s episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in the video embedded in this article.