Democrat Jessica Tarlov did a great job shredding Trump’s choice of prayer-over-science Mike Pence to lead the administration’s coronavirus response on Fox News yesterday. But revealing Pence's lack of qualifications should be the news anchors’ job, not a Democratic pundit.
As Tarlov began to speak, Fox undercut her with a lower-third banner reading, “Trump on coronavirus: ‘Whatever happens, we’re totally prepared.’”
Nevertheless, she nailed it:
TARLOV: There are deep concerns, though, about putting Mike Pence, at least quasi in charge of this. You know, he oversaw a “pray on it” plan to combat an HIV outbreak in Indiana. Instead of going with science and needle exchanges, he went after Planned Parenthood and people got sick there because of it.
Mike Pence is not a scientist, he’s not a doctor, he’s not someone who believes, really, in science. And I don’t believe that he should be in charge of this or anywhere near the forefront of it and that is a big concern.
The supposedly straight news co-anchors acted shocked. Ed Henry asked, “How can you say he doesn’t believe in science?” Sandra Smith furrowed her brow with showy skepticism.
Tarlov shot back:
TARLOV: Well, he doesn’t believe in climate science. He thinks that you should pray on it if you have HIV. If you get HIV, you should go to a doctor. If you have a coronavirus, you should go to the doctor and this isn’t about insulting prayer. It’s just saying that that kind of policy and that kind of thinking is outdated and has no place in modern society.
This is an accurate description of Pence's anti-science record. He allowed an HIV outbreak to worsen because he opposed clean-needle exchanges, despite the science showing it would help. After political pressure, Pence prayed on it, allowed the exchanges and that was seen as having played a major role in halting the outbreak. Less than a year ago, Pence twisted himself into a pretzel on CNN to avoid saying whether he believes climate change is a threat and, while he was at it, falsely claimed the U.S. has the cleanest air and water in the world. Newsweek noted yesterday that he has downplayed the risks of smoking, believes in “intelligent design” over evolution and has said that condoms offer “very poor” protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
But here’s what’s wrong with this picture: This program, “America’s Newsroom,” is supposed to be part of Fox News’ “straight news” programming. Which means it’s the anchors’ job to make sure the public gets the facts about Pence’s credentials, or lack thereof, for the job. Especially for a project as serious as a coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.
By farming out their responsibility to a political pundit, Henry, Smith and Fox deliberately denigrated the facts as opinion – and then actively undermined them at the same time.
That is not to take away from Tarlov speaking truth to propaganda, though.
You can watch her do it below, from the February 27, 2020 America’s Newsroom, via Raw Story.
(H/T reader Eric Jefferson)