Fox News star Tucker Carlson, all but alone among his fellow Fox primetime hosts in framing the novel coronavirus pandemic as a serious problem instead of a partisan hoax to hurt President Donald Trump, is potentially coping with his own concerns regarding his potential exposure to COVID-19.
Carlson was among several guests at Mar-a-Lago last weekend who shook hands with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in close proximity to his press secretary, who has tested positive for the disease. Trump stood close by as Carlson greeted Bolsonaro. Since that Saturday night encounter, several conservative lawmakers and the mayor of Miami, who was also present, have self-quarantined.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tested positive after attending the dinner for Bolsonaro. Carlson was at Mar-a-Lago to attend a birthday party for former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, who has been dating Donald Trump Jr.
“Tucker has followed all of the necessary protocols and measures in place and his responsible coverage throughout this crisis has reflected the need to take this seriously since January, before any other show on television started covering it in earnest,” Fox News said in a statement.
Video posted by Brazilian outlet Poder360 shows Carlson shaking hands with Bolsonaro—who has denied testing positive for the virus after South American media reported he had—after President Trump introduced the two men during the visit at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
Fábio Wajngarten, Bolsonaro’s press secretary who has since tested positive for COVID-19, stands close behind Trump, the Brazilian president, and Vice President Mike Pence in the video, while Trump sings Brazil’s praises under its new right-wing leader.
While many of his Fox News colleagues have spent the past few weeks downplaying the viral outbreak, Carlson has stood out on Fox’s primetime airwaves as a voice of caution, repeatedly warning his viewers to take the pandemic seriously. Notably, he called out both Trump and his own Fox colleagues—without specifically naming them—for “minimizing” the threat of the coronavirus in order to protect political interests.
“People you trust, people you probably voted for have spent weeks minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem,” he warned viewers on Monday. “The Chinese coronavirus is a major event. It will affect your life. And by the way, it's definitely not just the flu.”
Carlson’s grave tone was in stark contrast to some of his colleagues like Fox Business Network host Trish Regan who insisted the pandemic is nothing more than an “impeachment scam” by the Democrats to “destroy and demonize” Trump. Regan’s monologue aired at the exact same time as Carlson’s pleas for viewers to take the outbreak seriously.
While neither Trump nor Pence have self-quarantined after coming into contact with Bolsonaro and his entourage, other prominent attendees of the Mar-a-Lago visit have taken precautionary measures since learning of the infected Brazilian official.
While Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Lindsey Graham both do not recall ever directly touching Wajngarten during the Brazilian delegation’s meetings with Trump, Pence, and their allies, both men self-quarantined as a result of the encounter.
Miami Police confirmed that a 21-officer escort for Bolsonaro and his entourage have also self-quarantined, and the city’s mayor on Friday confirmed he tested positive for the virus after meeting with the delegation.