On Reliable Sources yesterday, Brian Stelter spelled out the insidious effect Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson, the self-anointed voice of the little guy, has had on the vaccination and pandemic recovery efforts.
"Is the USA suffering from a bad case of Foxitis? And is it hurting America's pandemic recovery? That word, Foxitis, it was coined by a lawyer defending one of the suspects in the pro-Trump riot. It's almost a 'Fox News made me do it' kind of defense. Fox-mania, the lawyer said. He said his clients lost his job due to the pandemic and then watched Fox constantly for next six months," Stelter said.
“ 'He believed what was being fed to him.' Indeed many Fox viewers came away with a distinct impression that President Trump was robbed, that the election was rigged. But that is just one of the symptoms of Foxitis.
Other possible symptoms are fear of the unknown, fear of a diversifying America, anger about cancel culture, but only when conservatives are affected, belief that news outlets and tech firms are all radical villains. Perhaps one of the symptoms is even the ablity to forget what you've seen with your own eyes."
He described how Fox mania makes viewers prone to conspiracy thinking and hostile to change.
"Maybe there needs to be a warning label. I mean, this whole Foxitis thing has become a punchline now, all over social media with people saying the COVID vaccine has made them immune to Foxitis.
"And that right there, the vaccine roll-out, that is why Fox mania matters. That is where it matters most right now," he said.
He said a lot of the vaccine resistance comes from Republicans who view Fox as their trusted source.
"I want to be fair and balanced here. Some Fox shows and stars have been responsible. They've been using their platforms for good. They've been sharing their own vaccination experiences. But Murdoch World's most popular shows have popularized some dark, disturbing damaging narratives about COVID -- first downplaying the virus last year, minimizing the risk and now by sowing confusion.
"When I've tuned in, I've heard complains about triple masking, “three masks!” even though that's not a real thing. And we're told that we're well past herd immunity even though most experts say the opposite.
He said worst of all, he's heard Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson repeatedly say that many Americans are dying after getting the shot.
"And he said it with the implication that the shots are to blame with no evidence at all. He's scaring his audience so recklessly that even some of his own colleagues called him out for it on Twitter.
"Carlson acts like he knows some secret truth that's been covered up by some shadowy enterprise. You know what? Maybe you should be writing some junk movie of the week for Netflix or Tubi, or write horror novels for a living, because he's clearly not responsible enough to have a show that purports or pretends to be news.
"Just listen to this. Listen to how he talks about life saving vaccines like they're some sort of government plot to drug us all into submission."
“And a lot more shots.” What is he talking about?" he asked.
"Look, rank and file staffers at Fox know that Carlson's anti-vaxx stuff is irresponsible and embarrassing. They are embarrassed by it. There are plenty of people at Fox, including on-air talent, including medical experts who could debunk and correct and educate Tucker Carlson and his audience.
"That's not what Carlson wants. That's not who he books on his show. He claims to be pro-vaccine and says he's just asking questions but he's not seeking the answers. So the rest of us have to.
"That's what we have to do, right? When Foxitis is hurting a lot of people. If we're not going to reach herd immunity in the US, we need to reach nerd immunity. Yes, nerd immunity. Enough of us have to be well informed to safely come out of the pandemic coma. Nerd immunity. It's, I guess it's whatever the opposite of what Foxitis is."