Tucker Carlson’s latest (racist) COVID-19 conspiracy theory, debunked by qualified scientists, was tagged, not removed, by Facebook. But that was cause enough for Carlson to spend more than 13 minutes playing the censorship victim on his prime time cable news show.
Carlson and Fox give undeserved credibility to debunked conspiracy theory COVID-19 originated in a Chinese lab
On Tuesday night, Carlson interviewed Li-Meng Yan, a virologist who claims that China fabricated and released the coronavirus. FoxNews.com, which cast doubt on Fox's own Jennifer Griffin's confirmation that Donald Trump has called fallen troops "losers" and "suckers," nevertheless hyped Yan's debunked claim.
Below are the opening paragraphs of an article titled, “Chinese virologist: China's government 'intentionally' released COVID-19” and subtitled, “'I work[ed] in the WHO reference lab, which is the top coronavirus lab in the world,'” FoxNews.com wrote this about Carlson's interview:
The Chinese government intentionally manufactured and released the COVID-19 virus that led to mass shutdowns and deaths across the world, a top virologist and whistleblower told Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday.
Carlson specifically asked Dr. Li-Meng Yan whether she believed the Chinese Communist Party released the virus "on purpose." "Yes, of course, it's intentionally," she responded on "Tucker Carlson Tonight."
Yan said more evidence would be released but pointed to her own high-ranking position at a World Health Organization reference lab as a reason to trust her allegation.
"I work[ed] in the WHO reference lab, which is the top coronavirus lab in the world, in the University of Hong Kong. And the thing is I get deeply into such investigation in secret from the early beginning of this outbreak. I had my intelligence because I also get my own unit network in China, involved [in] the hospital ... also I work with the top corona[virus] virologist in the world," she said.
"So, together with my experience, I can tell you, this is created in the lab ... and also, it is spread to the world to make such damage."
After that, the article got around to noting that Yan’s claims “conflict” with Dr. Anthony Fauci and other scientists. Also, that her own former employer, the University of Hong Kong, has refuted both her claims and the relevance of the work she did there.
Yan is one of the authors of a paper on the subject. Unlike Fox, Newsweek consulted “six leading experts in evolutionary biology and infectious disease.” Newsweek reported they found “the paper offers no new information, makes numerous unsubstantiated claims and its scientific case is weak.”
Then there’s this (my emphases added):
The paper, "Unusual Features of the SARS-CoV-2 Genome Suggesting Sophisticated Laboratory Modification Rather Than Natural Evolution and Delineation of Its Probable Synthetic Route," is authored by Dr. Li-Meng Yan and three colleagues affiliated with the Rule of Law Society, a group not known for its work on infectious disease. The Society was founded by Stephen K. Bannon, the former Trump advisor recently charged by the FBI for fraud, and Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, who fled China in 2014 on bribery and other charges.
By the way, that’s the same Guo Wengui who owns the super-luxury yacht on which Bannon was recently arrested.
The Daily Beast, which also consulted scientists who found the paper meritless, has more:
A search of Google Scholar and the Rule of Law Society and Rule of Law Foundation [a related nonprofit] websites indicates that the organizations have not previously published scientific or medical research, and it’s unclear whether the paper received any peer review. It was posted on Monday on the website Zenodo, a publicly available repository of scientific and academic research to which anyone can upload their work.
As The Daily Beast also noted, Carlson acknowledged at the end of the interview, “I don’t have the grounding to ask you the right questions.” Then he sneered, “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.”
But this is more of Carlson’s typical deceit. He loves to pose as an anti-elitist despite the fact that he’s loaded with more money than any Joe Schmo can probably dream of. More importantly, he promotes policies that help guys like himself, while pretending to be on the side of the little guy. He loves to portray whites as the victim of racism as he champions white nationalism. And now, he’s pretending to be "just asking" about a debunked "expert's" theory he's clearly promoting and demanding others give credence.
Carlson Plays Media Victim
On last night’s show, Carlson “forgot” he didn’t have enough “grounding” to ask the right questions and now seemed to think none were needed:
CARLSON: [Yan, et al.'s] paper found that contrary to popular accounts, the virus likely did not originate from an exotic animal in a so-called wet market. Instead, the researchers concluded quote, "The killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan."
Now to restate, the researchers who concluded this were Chinese scientists who work for a Chinese University. And for that reason, understandably, they were concerned about the health implications for their own country of what they found.
Their paper ended this way, quote: "Safety levels may need to be reinforced in high-risk biohazardous laboratories. Regulations may need to be taken to relocate these laboratories away from city centers and other densely populated places." End quote.
As it happens, February 6th, which is the day that paper went online, was also the date of the first coronavirus death in this country. So the American media had every reason to pay attention to what the Chinese scientists had found, but they didn't.
Yeah, never mind that actual scientists have paid attention and found it meritless. But if he wasn’t pulling the wool over viewers’ eyes, he probably wouldn’t be Tucker Carlson.
Carlson continued with his transformed ability to evaluate Yan:
CARLSON: The people in charge of our public health infrastructure simply ignored credible evidence that contradicted the Chinese government's version of events.
Carlson then returned to his pretense of objectivity:
CARLSON: COVID-19 is not from nature, she said. It was created in a lab in Wuhan, China. The Chinese government intentionally unleashed it on the world. Those are her claims. Are they true? We have no way of verifying them. We do know that Dr. Li-Meng Yan is not a quack.
She writes that she has firsthand knowledge that the Chinese military has a template virus with cut sites designed for that very purpose.
Once again, we can't verify this, but it's clear that Dr. Li-Meng Yan is a serious person.
Apparently, Carlson thinks there’s no place in the world for fact checking, certainly not by him, and those who do are anti-truth propagandists, in this case the henchmen of the Chinese government:
CARLSON [Yan] is making a very serious claim. So, within a few hours of our interview last night, a video of the segment reached 1.3 million people on Facebook and why wouldn't it? The coronavirus pandemic has touched the life of every American and justifiably, people want to know where it came from.
But Facebook still doesn't want you to know that, so Facebook suppressed the video presumably on behalf of the Chinese government. Facebook executives made it harder for users to watch our segment. Those who found the video had to navigate a warning of the interview, quote: "Repeats information about COVID-19 that independent fact checkers say is false."
Instagram, which Facebook also owns did the same thing. Twitter suspended Dr. Yan's account entirely. It did not explain why, nor did the tech companies explain how they would know more about disease transmission than an MD, PhD virologist like Dr. Li-Meng Yan.
Carlson whined on and on and on like this, along the way touting hydroxychloroquine and accusing Democrats of hypocrisy for saying they believe in science but not listening to doctors like Yan and Dr. Scott Atlas (the unqualified "expert" Fox's news shows don't trust).
Atlas was Carlson’s next guest and I’ll have more on him in my next post.
I hate Facebook and Zuckerberg probably more than Carlson does but fact checking claims about a pandemic seems like the least they could do. And I certainly wouldn't conclude they're protecting the Chinese government just because they tagged Carlson's interview with Yan as having false information.
You can watch Carlson give credibility to Yan and whine about censorship below, from the September 15 and September 16, 2020 Tucker Carlson Tonight shows.
9/18/20 update: Yesterday, I somehow left out the videos that were supposed to accompany this post. They have been added now.