Tucker Carlson’s Dangerous Disinformation About Social Distancing
- Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
After state and local governments implemented social distancing measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Tucker Carlson has used his prime-time Fox News show to falsely claim that these measures failed to slow the spread of the virus. In the broader context of Fox News' pattern of airing misinformation about the coronavirus, Carlson's campaign to discredit social distancing policies is particularly glaring and dangerous.
- Experts agree social distancing slows the spread and saves lives. Experts agree social distancing slows the spread and saves lives. Experts have widely agreed with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that social distancing policies are the most effective way to intervene in the spread of the virus early enough to dramatically reduce the number of infections and deaths.
- Epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch, the head of Harvard's Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, urged in early March that social distancing protocols be implemented faster. He stated that "the goal is to minimize the number of contacts between people" so as to slow the spread of the virus. By early April, multiple studies from both a right- and left-leaning perspective had been released concluding that social distancing policies will likely have to continue in varied forms for at least a year, if not longer. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN's Jake Tapper on April 12 that the United States could have saved lives if social distancing guidelines were enforced earlier. And White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx cautioned Americans on April 26 that social distancing would be required until a "breakthrough" in testing occurred. She estimated these policies would need to continue into the summer. Despite the fact that public health experts widely agree on the effectiveness of social distancing measures, Carlson has used his Fox show to undermine them.
- April 6: Carlson says social distancing should be ended nationwide. On the April 6 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson argued for social distancing policies to be ended throughout the country.
- April 9: Carlson hosted CEO Don Peebles, who said the social distancing policies were a "big overreaction." Carlson did not push back on the claim.
- April 22: Carlson says there is no "scientific record" proving quarantines are the most effective way to stop the spread. Carlson claimed on the April 22 edition of his Fox show that there is no "scientific record" indicating "mass quarantines" are the only way to save lives.
- April 27: Carlson claims "it's not likely" that flattening infection curves were the result of social distancing policies. Three weeks after California instituted social distancing policies, the curve for new infections in that state started flattening. Health experts attributed this to the state's rapid enforcement of social distancing policies. By mid-April, some of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus were seeing their curves flattening as well. Preliminary research indicated that social distancing policies throughout the country were responsible for decreased infection rates. And yet, on the April 27 edition of his Fox show, Carlson said, "We are happy to say that curve has been flattened, but it's likely not because of the lockdowns. The virus just isn't nearly as deadly as we thought it was."
- April 29: Carlson says social distancing "doesn't seem to have" stopped the spread of coronavirus "at all."
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