During the May 12 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host went on an extended monologue baselessly questioning whether the head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases for the last 34 years is actually an expert on infectious diseases. In his remarks, Tucker Carlson excluded key context around Dr. Anthony Fauci’s comments during a May 12 Senate hearing regarding whether schools can reopen in the fall in an effort to paint the public health official as unreasonable and drunk on power.
Carlson claimed that Fauci “implied that schools and colleges would be able to reopen only if there is a cure for this virus, or a vaccine. He said that prospect was a bridge too far. In other words, no school until the coronavirus has been cured -- stopped. ... Fauci says that children must stay home or countless people will die, that's the message.”
Carlson’s unhinged rant does not reflect reality. Here’s what really happened: Following a question from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) about what guidance Fauci would give to the chancellor of the University of Tennessee Knoxville about reopening campus in the fall, the public health official said, “I would be very realistic with the chancellor and tell her that in this case, that the idea of having treatments available, or a vaccine, to facilitate the reentry of students into the fall term would be something of a bit of a bridge too far.” Fauci added, “If this were a situation where you had a vaccine, that would really be the end of the issue in a positive way. But as I mentioned in my opening remarks, even at the top speed we’re going, we don’t see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this term.”
Later, Fauci clarified his remarks, saying “I did not mean to imply at all any relationship between the availability of a vaccine and treatment and our ability to go back to school.” The clarification was even included on Fox’s 6 p.m. “news”-side show, Special Report with Bret Baier.
But just hours later, Carlson ignored this context from his own network in order to attack the public health expert, and in doing so his characterization of Fauci’s remarks was completely inaccurate and intentionally misleading. Unfortunately, if Tuesday’s ratings from the prior week are any guide, it would be fair to estimate that at least a million more people watched those false claims on Tucker Carlson Tonight on May 12 than saw the full context on Special Report.