In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, some U.S. health officials — echoed by the media — discouraged the American public from purchasing and using face masks as a means of protection against the viral contagion, even going so far as to say masks were unnecessary and even ineffective at thwarting infection. Recent reports suggest that such advice may have been unwise, however.
Though the move was most likely intended to reduce the potential hoarding of a scarce but vital medical supply, Fox News host Tucker Carlson won’t stand for the dishonesty. According to Fox, he demanded on his Monday program that the federal government “stop lying to us” about face masks.
Carlson demands honesty
“In any crisis, trust is critical — and not just for moral reasons, for practical reasons,” Carlson said Monday, according to a transcript provided by RealClearPolitics. “The government can’t coordinate a national response if the public doesn’t believe what it says, if it doesn’t believe the government is looking out for its best interest.
“That’s why honesty is essential at times like this. When the government lies, people know. They can tell, and then they stop listening,” the Tucker Carlson Tonight host continued. “From the beginning of the Chinese coronavirus epidemic, mask shortages have been a major problem. Some people hoarded hundreds or thousands of them. Manufacturers couldn’t keep up.”
Carlson noted that some of our nation’s supply of masks had been shipped to foreign countries, and nations that produced masks stopped sending them to the U.S.
Meanwhile, the demand for masks rapidly increased here at home and quickly outstripped the supply, resulting in a dearth of the desperately needed piece of personal protective equipment.
“It’s insulting. It’s ridiculous.”
“Now, from the start, honesty would have been the right policy in the face of this. They could have just said to the public, ‘We messed up, but health care professionals, the sick and the elderly need the masks most, so they get priority,'” Carlson said Monday. “And people would have understood that because it makes sense. But the government didn’t do that. Instead, they told us lies — dumb lies that anyone who thought about it for a second could see right through.
“They told the public you shouldn’t buy masks because masks don’t work,” he continued, citing as evidence a tweet from the U.S. surgeon general, guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and multiple media articles boosting that same dubious claim.
Carlson said of those lies: “It’s insulting. It’s ridiculous. They’re telling you masks don’t work unless you work at a hospital? How does that work? Does mask effectiveness change based on what job you do? They’re only useful if you’re already sick. What? Coronavirus can spread from asymptomatic carriers. That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Oh, wait. You’re just too dumb to wear the mask. Okay. Because it is really hard to put on.”
“Stop lying to us”
“Of course, masks work. Everyone knows that. Dozens of research papers have proved it. In South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, the rest of Asia — where coronavirus has been kept under control — masks were key,” he noted.
“So look, we understand there’s a shortage of masks. We understand only certain people should get them because it’s a triage moment. We get it,” Carlson concluded. “But stop lying to us. It makes us cynical. It divides the country. Tell the truth. We can handle it.”
Carlson is right. Basic observations and common sense tell us that masks work to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, and while it is understandable that the government wanted to try and avoid a panicked rush on a thin and overstretched supply, honesty would have still been preferable.