When Tucker Carlson whined (falsely) about the lack of objective media scrutiny into a debunked theory about the origins of COVID-19, from a not-very-credible virologist, he also acknowledged he’s not up to the job – even as he promoted the theory anyway.
Yesterday, I wrote about Carlson’s disingenuousness during his Wednesday night interview with virologist Li-Meng Yan when, after providing her a friendly platform to promote her discredited, Bannon-funded theory that China created the coronavirus in a lab, Carlson announced, “I don’t have the grounding to ask you the right questions but this is where you wish for a functioning media because what you just said completely changes everything we think we know about the pandemic that is wrecking our country.”
The next night, Carlson spent more than 13 minutes whining that Facebook did the kind of fact checking he claimed to want.
In my view, Carlson’s game plan was to promote Yan and her theory while abdicating any responsibility for doing so by adopting a “just asking” guise. Then, when Facebook asked the questions and came up with an answer that didn’t go with his desired messaging, he baselessly accused them of censorship on behalf of the Chinese government,
WaPo’s Erik Wemple made the point in his column yesterday that Carlson has now acknowledged, on the air, that he is unable or unwilling to provide any kind of serious journalism to his viewers, at least on this life-and-death issue. Wemple wrote:
When Carlson invited Yan to appear on his show, they were challenging a hardened scientific consensus on SARS-CoV-2. A news program would, accordingly, lay out the prevailing view and walk viewers carefully through the contrary allegations, complete with the views of other virologists and detailed explanations of the science. Instead, Carlson allowed Yan to state her case, which included statements like this one: “So, together with my experience, I can tell you, this is created in the lab. This is from that template owned by [the Chinese] military and also, it was spread to the world to make such damage.”
And then the host quit. “Unfortunately, this is not the forum for the details of your research,” said Carlson in a stunning abdication. “I don’t have the grounding necessary to ask you the right questions.” Then he provided an admission that “Tucker Carlson Tonight” shouldn’t be trusted with important issues: “This is when you wish for a functioning media because what you just said completely changes everything we think we know about the pandemic that’s wrecking our country. So I really hope, sincerely, that you will be doing many interviews in American media and explaining this in much greater detail.”
Viewers of Carlson’s show surely weren’t surprised by Yan’s appearance, considering that the host has steadily pushed the coronavirus lab angle from the early months of the pandemic. “Now more than ever, we believe it is worth knowing where this disease came from. That ought to be the first question,” said Carlson on Wednesday night in a rare flicker of lucidity. Clearly, there are compelling reasons to know this stuff. As Alex Berenson, the former New York Times reporter and critic of mainstream-media covid-19 coverage told this blog, there are several reasons for such inquiry, one of them being that “China is an increasingly powerful and aggressive actor worldwide — if it is allowed to stonewall in an issue this important it will only become more brazen.”
In other words, what we have here is one of the highest-rate prime time cable news hosts saying he can’t do the job he's demanding of other people like him, but with lesser ratings and smaller platforms. And, when the outcome doesn't suit his fancy, accusing them of malfeasance.
That’s worth remembering the next time Carlson whines about anyone else in the media.
(Carlson image via screen grab)