Fox News host Tucker Carlson appeared to take aim at both President Donald Trump and many of his Fox News colleagues—without naming them, of course—on Monday night for downplaying the impact of the growing coronavirus outbreak, calling the epidemic a “very serious problem.”
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.
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.)
“People you trust, people you probably voted for, have spent weeks minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem,” he asserted. “‘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. And when it does, we will feel foolish for worrying about it.’ That’s their position.”
Since the outbreak began making headlines and affecting the stock market weeks ago, both the president and several of his most loyal Fox sycophants have insisted repeatedly that Democrats and the media are overstating and sensationalizing the novel coronavirus in an attempt to hurt Trump politically ahead of the 2020 election. Just hours before Carlson’s monologue, Trump compared the virus to the “common flu” while insisting the “Fake News” was stoking unwarranted fears to tank the market.
Carlson, meanwhile, said that while “these people have good intentions” and “maybe they believe they are serving some higher cause by shading reality,” they are wrong as the disease is a “major event.” He went on to note that the mortality rate of COVID-19, especially among those who are older, is far worse than the seasonal flu before pointing to how the outbreak has effectively shut down Italy.
Carlson also took aim at Trump’s announcement that he is looking at possible payroll tax cuts and other stimulus efforts to offset any damage to the economy, noting that “tax cuts and lower rates won’t reopen factories that have shut down to contain the virus.”
“In other words, our country is likely to experience a painful period we are powerless to stop,” the Fox host said. “You shouldn’t panic. In crisis, it’s more important than ever to be calm.”
“Staying calm is not the same as remaining complacent,” Carlson continued. “It does not mean assuring people that everything will be fine. We don’t know that. Instead, it’s better to tell the truth. That is always the surest sign of strength. As they level with us, our leaders ought to prepare the public for what may come next.”
While Carlson was speaking, over on Fox Business, host Trish Regan began her show by describing the crisis as the “coronavirus impeachment scam.”