Tucker Carlson calls on leaders to keep perspective and to remain persistently open-minded in the response to the coronavirus. Carlson said one of the lessons from this crisis is that the "public health establishment" failed and the World Health Organization colluded with China to lie about the virus in the early days of the outbreak. From the Thursday broadcast of his FOX News program:
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: As you’ve no doubt heard, and may have experienced personally, another 6.6 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week. That’s on top of more than three million new claims the week before. So far, over 10 million Americans have lost their jobs because of government-mandated shutdowns in response to the Coronavirus. How many people is that? There are 41 American states with total populations smaller than this group of newly-jobless workers. Take a look at this graph of unemployment claims from the Department of Labor.
We don’t use a lot of graphs on this show, but this one will give you a sense of how unusual this event is. At the bottom of the chart, you’ll see a fairly straight line that ends with a sharply steep spike. That spike is right now. The timeline you’re looking at extends over 53 years. When the government began measuring unemployment claims, the Vietnam War was still a full year from its peak. We’ve weathered a lot of traumatic events since then: the 1973 oil shock, the 9/11 attacks, the collapse of our industrial economy, not to mention countless other frightening moments. Nothing came remotely close to economic effect the Coronavirus shutdowns have had on America.
The scale of it hasn’t quite registered yet. Our leaders still seem far more afraid of a virus that probably kills fewer than one percent of those it infects, than the prospect of a third of all Americans losing their jobs. We don’t judge anyone for that. There’s something uniquely panic-inducing about infectious disease. The fear of it is atavistic; it’s in our bones. But still. This is a moment. It will pass. A year from now, what will seem scarier: the Chinese Coronavirus, or the economic devastation it wrought? It’s worth thinking about that as we move forward.
But we can’t. Thinking about things like that has been cast as a kind of moral crime by our opinion-making class. Last week, we did a segment with the lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick. Patrick is 70 years old and has the kind of health profile that makes him especially vulnerable to this virus. Like most people in his position, he’s worried about being infected. He doesn’t want to get sick or die. But he also has other worries. He doesn’t want to see America destroyed. He wants his grandchildren to grow up in the same kind of country he did: prosperous, stable, employed. He said all of that on our show last Monday. Almost immediately, the media outrage machine began belching smoke and making loud noises: “Dan Patrick is telling old people to die for the stock market!” they screamed. No, Patrick wasn’t doing that. That’s not even close to what he said. It didn’t matter. Patrick was vilified in dozens of news stories, as if he was trying to kill the elderly in order to boost Exxon’s share price.
In an environment like this — where reactive, emotionally-incontinent people have the loudest megaphones — it’s nearly impossible to see clearly or make wise decisions. That’s true of everyone in power, even our most impressive and thoughtful officials. At yesterday’s Coronavirus briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked when the restrictions on normal life will end in this country. Here’s how he replied:
FAUCI: “When it goes down to essentially no new cases, no new deaths at a period of time."
No new cases? No new deaths? How long will that be? Almost nobody thought to ask: “We’ve got to beat this disease. Details are irrelevent. Cost is no object.” That’s the feeling in Washington right now. But details are always relevant. And there’s always a limit to what we can pay. Decisions we make today will echo for decades. They could radically change the future of this country. We need to try harder to keep perspective, and to remain persistently open-minded.
What would have happened, for example, if we’d adopted a more conventional response to this epidemic? What if we’d asked the elderly and the immuno-compromised, and anyone else facing statistically higher rates of risk, to stay inside, cloistered away — and then at the same time, allowed the rest of population to use informed common sense and continue to work? What if we’d done that a month ago? Would the death rate today be much higher than it is now? Maybe. Maybe not. We don’t know. But it’s clearly a conversation we should have had before we locked the entire country down and put 10 million people out of work. But we didn’t have that conversation. Instead, we outsourced the decision to public health officials.
And that’s the strange irony of the moment we’re living through. One of the main lessons of this crisis is that the public health establishment has failed us badly. The World Health Organization colluded with China to lie about critically-relevant facts during the early days of the outbreak. Once the Coronavirus reached our shores, the CDC couldn’t seem to produce working tests. These were disasters. Many died because the people we trusted to protect our health didn’t. They’ve been thoroughly discredited. At the time time, though, we’re being asked to trust them without hesitation — and for the most part, we are. In other words, the experts failed. Yet the experts have more power than ever before. It’s bewildering. In fact it’s reminiscent of 2008, when reckless behavior by the banks crippled the economy and crushed the middle class. And when it came time to fix it, we put bankers in charge of the cleanup.
This isn’t an argument against expertise. Bankers understand finance. Epidemiologists understand Coronaviruses. Turning to experts in crisis makes sense. We should. But we can’t allow them to make the big decisions. That’s not their job. This is a democracy. It’s ours.