If you look at all of the unnecessary problems Trump has had during his tenure as president, they all come down to this: He trusted someone he obviously and predictably should not have trusted. Right now, that person is Fox News host Tucker Carlson and his legion of Twitter trolls and hack online publications.
Tucker Carlson is not an intelligent individual, though he might dress like an overgrown debate team captain. The entire premise of his show is that he behaves like a Twitter troll. He puts up some straw-man argument about political enemies and then he makes goofy or outraged faces. That’s it. That’s Tucker’s claim to fame. That’s all he has. To anyone with a brain, his show got old a long time ago. But he has an army of Twitter trolls to take imaginary political victory laps, so his charade continues ad nauseam. And he keeps making his way into Trump’s orbit.
Tucker gets his delicate lace panties into a twist over pretty much anything. This behavior has even led him to deride openly some of Trump’s major accomplishments, like taking out a vicious terrorist mastermind who has maimed and killed thousands of US servicemen. Trump should remember that detail about him, because that sort of behavior has been the red flag for pretty much any toxic relationship Trump has found himself in with a string of attention-whore opportunists. Carlson is not a Mitch McConnell or Lindsey Graham or Bill Barr. He’s an Anthony Scaramucci. A Michael Cohen. A Gordon Sondland.
Listening to Carlson and his milieu has led Trump to make three major mistakes in the handling of the coronavirus:
First, Carlson hyperventilating made it so Trump did not put up an early fight against the shutdown mentality, which was 100% driven by the hack at Imperial College London. This meant that Trump allowed people pumping a fake health care Armageddon to turn this situation into a very real economic Armageddon. The Imperial College chap has since changed his tune, but the economic situation is going to take weeks, if not months, to sort out. And it has generated a lot of unnecessary bad blood.
Carlson’s online troll army has been pushing garbage online for weeks about how great the shutdown is. We can all watch movies together! Take pictures of your goofy self-quarantine food! Lol, indoor antics!
Nothing could be more out-of-touch with the experience of ordinary Americans right now. They are not taking pictures of their food. They are wondering how they can afford to buy food. They are wondering if their child will have to repeat a grade in school for no reason. These people do not have Twitter accounts because they are normal, well-adjusted human beings. You aren’t seeing their stories, concerns, worries, or opinions online. DC prep assholes like Tucker Carlson do not speak for them.
The second major mistake Trump made based off of Carlson’s fake fandom was this insistence that the virus came from China, or the “Wuhan virus” affair. Let’s bracket off the issue of whether that insistence involves racism and blah blah blah identity politics is funny and evil. That’s mostly unimportant, but this sort of chatter has had other, quite serious, consequences.
That single assumption has contributed to an intellectual problem people have in thinking about the risks the coronavirus involves. If you think the coronavirus originated in a Chinese wet market because some dude had to eat a bat and that it is only now appearing here, then that supports this idea of Armageddon that Carlson is personally pushing against the growing medical consensus that this virus has been around for some time and most people have already been exposed to it. And it’s a political own-goal because it gives the media another something stupid to cluck about, which Carlson loves because blah blah blah lamestream media is one of the inane things he’s obsessed with. Thanks for creating yet another toxic segment for him.
If you think western countries have been living with the virus for a while now – which, as I have explained in several earlier posts, is not at all a piece of Chinese propaganda as people like Tucker like to suggest, but the opinion of serious medical researchers at Oxford, Stanford, and in Israel – then this is hardly Armageddon, most Americans have probably already been exposed to it, and you need to put people back to work as soon as possible. Being fixated on turning the coronavirus into the “Wuhan virus,” in addition to being plain stupid, prevents you from thinking clearly about the nature of the pandemic and what a sane policy response should look like. It took me a while to get past it myself, as I am conditioned to distrust anything driven by social media outrages.
Third, Carlson dialing up the coronavirus doom has complicated addressing the very real domestic propaganda campaign that Trump’s political adversaries have mounted, with sites like Covid Act Now that are powered by Biden supporters and blue state governors and mayors hyping up how they could keep the economy in the dumps for a year. Trump needs to be able to provide a sober understanding of the pandemic to the American people, and he can’t do that when the dumbest but loudest voices in his own party are perversely helping his political rivals sabotage him.
It is impossible to take someone like Tucker Carlson seriously and be the leader we need in this country at this moment. The guy has zero meaningful insight into this situation, and his willingness to troll the media incessantly, while sometimes useful, absolutely should not be a vehicle for someone as unqualified as him to be influencing major public policy decisions. If Trump wants to really take control of this moment, he needs to start by finding something else to do in that time slot.