A 12-month timeline of Tucker Carlson’s unhinged COVID-19 coverage

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Fox News has been a major source of COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories — but none of the network’s personalities have attained the same level of consistency and recklessness in their coverage as prime-time host Tucker Carlson. 

From criticizing mask-wearing and attacking public health experts to airing unfounded claims that the virus is a Chinese bioweapon and insisting that the pandemic is not actually a problem because “death is inevitable,” here’s a non-comprehensive timeline of Carlson’s deranged coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 

JANUARY: 

  • Carlson used the early stages of the pandemic to make the first of many attacks on social justice efforts, calling it “totally insane” to question the lack of diversity on President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force and declaring, “Wokeness is a virus. It's infectious; it destroys your brain.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 1/30/20

FEBRUARY:

  • Carlson fearmongered about the origins of COVID-19 and questioned whether it was “somehow created by the Chinese government,” the first time of many times that he would platform claims that COVID-19 was “not a naturally occurring virus.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 2/10/20

MARCH:

  • Carlson claimed that not using racist terms to describe the coronavirus was leading to its spread: “Now is not the time to indulge in the lowest and dumbest kind of identity politics.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/11/20]
  • Carlson attempted to link what he called homelessness “filth” with the spread of the coronavirus, saying, “Suddenly, having a population that leaves needles and garbage everywhere and defecates on the sidewalk doesn't simply seem disgusting -- though it is -- it seems dangerous and insane.” These attacks echoed a long-standing campaign by Carlson and other Fox figures to demonize and dehumanize homeless people, particularly in Democratic cities and states. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/13/20; Media Matters, 9/10/19, 11/12/19, 1/13/20]
  • Carlson lauded Trump for being “at his very best” when he called COVID-19 a “Chinese virus.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/17/20]
  • Carlson argued that criticizing racist characterizations of the coronavirus is how the Chinese are going to “control us” with “wokeness.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/18/20]
  • Carlson fearmongered that a coronavirus outbreak and financial crisis in Mexico will lead to a “wave of refugees across our southern border.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/20/20]
  • Carlson attacked the House stimulus bill for benefiting immigrants during the pandemic: “Democrats want to make certain the people who are replacing you are secure and happy.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/23/20]
  • As early as March, Carlson was attempting to sow distrust against pandemic experts, claiming, “You can't just let epidemiologists run a country.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/23/20]
  • Carlson attacked Twitter for cracking down on COVID-19 misinformation: “It's a trend, a collusion between big multinationals and authoritarian governments to make you obey. That's not paranoid talk. It's real, and you should worry about it.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/24/20]
  • Tucker Carlson Tonight hosted Fox senior political analyst Brit Hume to explain the “entirely reasonable viewpoint” that older people should be willing to die to preserve the economy. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/24/20]
  • Carlson blamed identity politics for the spread of the coronavirus: “It was always the most brutal form of social control masquerading as sensitivity and caring. Now we know it was infecting the public with disease.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/26/20]
  • Carlson cited a report he admitted he hadn’t confirmed as true to spread a conspiracy theory that the coronavirus started in a Chinese lab. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/31/20]

APRIL

  • Carlson used the guise of coronavirus concerns to lobby for excluding international students from China from American universities, on the grounds that they’re “the children of the people who are trying to displace us.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/1/20]
  • Carlson defended Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s claim that grandparents would be willing to die for the economy. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/2/20
  • Carlson called it “bewildering” that we are letting public health “experts” make decisions on coronavirus response. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/2/20
  • Carlson: Dr. Anthony Fauci is suggesting “national suicide” and “we should never let someone like that run this country.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/3/20]
  • Carlson argued for ending social distancing, claiming the country would regret taking drastic measures to fight coronavirus spread. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/6/20]
  • In early April, Carlson was already claiming that the coronavirus crisis “may have passed.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/7/20]
  • Carlson hosted guests who claimed that death tolls were being inflated and that social distancing measures were an overreaction. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/7/20, 4/9/20]
  • On Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano called Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other governors implementing statewide lockdowns “petty tyrants” who “will use their powers again and again until some courageous federal court or an outraged public stops them.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/13/20]
  • Carlson praised anti-shutdown protesters in Michigan who terrorized and harassed  Whitmer and other state officials over coronavirus mitigation efforts. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/15/20; The Washington Post, 11/1/20]
  • Carlson claimed the threat of the pandemic to rural America was “miniscule.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/23/20]
  • Carlson repeatedly minimized how deadly COVID-19 is, insisting that the death rate was far below “devastating.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/27/20, 4/28/20]

MAY

  • Carlson insisted social distancing is ineffective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and his guests echoed this line of misinformation. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 5/1/20, 5/5/20
  • Carson attacked government officials for listening to Dr. Anthony Fauci, calling him an “elderly power-drunk epidemiologist.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 5/1/20]
  • Carlson blamed “Western race guilt” for the spread of coronavirus outside of China. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 5/4/20]
  • Carlson accused YouTube of removing COVID-19 misinformation because the company didn’t want people criticizing America’s leaders. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 5/6/20]
  • Carlson argued for the deportation of undocumented people working in jobs deemed “essential” during the pandemic or else “Democrats will win every presidential election for the rest of your life, the rest of your children's lives, the rest of your grandchildren’s lives.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 5/12/20]
  • Carlson asked if there was any reason we should believe that Fauci is actually “right about the science,” saying, “A lot of wrong predictions have come out of Washington on the question of the coronavirus, and quite a few of them came directly from Dr. Fauci himself.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 5/12/20]
  • In mid-May, Carlson and frequent guest Dr. Marc Siegel insisted that there would be no “big second wave” of coronavirus infections in the U.S. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 5/13/20]
  • Carlson defended videos removed by YouTube for spreading COVID-19 misinformation, claiming that they give better public health advice than Fauci does. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 5/19/20]
  • Carlson claimed that releasing some prisoners from facilities facing COVID-19 outbreaks is part of an effort “to destroy society” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 5/20/20]
  • When the COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100,000 in the United States, Carlson largely ignored the news and continued to insist there was no evidence lockdowns and other social distancing measures were effective. [Media Matters, 5/27/20; Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 5/26/20]

JUNE

  • On June 11, nurse Erin Marie Olszewski appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight and used the second-most-viewed show in cable news to push her refuted COVID-19 conspiracy theory claims and smear her former colleagues. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/11/20]
  • Carlson hosted Dr. Marc Siegel to attack the European Union for considering a ban on American travelers until the U.S. gets the pandemic under control. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/23/20]
  • Between June 22 and June 24, Fox prime-time shows, including Carlson’s, covered the toppling of statues more than three times as much as the coronavirus pandemic, even as many states were experiencing a surge in cases. [Media Matters, 6/25/20]

JULY 

  • Carlson compared protests against systemic racism and police brutality to the deadly pandemic, saying, “Minneapolis was our Wuhan.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/1/20]
  • Carlson attacked teachers for being concerned about safe working conditions during a pandemic. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/7/20]
  • Carlson once again argued that masks and social distancing “have no basis of any kind in science.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/7/20]
  • Carlson lied to his audience repeatedly about the effectiveness of masks, claiming “there is no evidence” that they prevent the spread of COVID-19. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/13/20]
  • Carlson suggested that COVID-19 lockdowns and public health experts were part of a plot to help the Biden campaign, saying, “Like Anthony Fauci himself, the coronavirus lockdowns were revealed to be capricious and transparently political.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/23/20]
  • Carlson celebrated Fox News for not having an editorial policy that would prevent the airing of COVID-19 misinformation, then shared clips from a debunked Breitbart video claiming that masks are unnecessary to curb the spread of the pandemic and that a drug cocktail featuring hydroxychloroquine is already a “cure” for the virus. Carlson said the video’s removal from YouTube and other social media platforms showed “the ruthlessness of Chinese authoritarians but with double the self-righteousness.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/28/20; Media Matters, 7/29/20
  • Carlson called Dr. Anthony Fauci a “hypocritical buffoon” but claimed he “is too useful to the Biden campaign, so until November, Fauci's word must be law even when it doesn't make sense.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/28/20]

AUGUST: 

  • Carlson attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci for “authoritarian” pandemic response guidelines, calling him “one of the most strident advocates of a Chinese response to coronavirus.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8/6/20]
  • Carlson accused then-vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris of wanting only “people of a certain color” to get the COVID-19 vaccine, telling his Fox audience, “It’s likely you never imagined affirmative action would be applied to life-saving medical treatment.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8/12/20]
  • Carlson called Fauci “just another oily politician on an ego trip,” claiming that “Fauci isn't suffering during the lockdowns; he's loving it.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8/14/20]
  • Carlson spun a bizarre conspiracy theory about Bill Gates and the director general of the World Health Organization making a COVID-19 vaccine mandatory as part of an effort to enact “mass social control.” He said the goal would be to advance a global climate change agenda and to cover up for the Chinese government’s response to the pandemic. [Media Matters, 9/14/20; Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8/24/20]
  • Carlson spent much of the month of August attacking the use and effectiveness of masks, including deceptively cropping guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to falsely claim the agency had reported that “wearing a mask may be completely irrelevant to the spread of the virus.” [Media Matters, 8/25/20]

SEPTEMBER

  • Carlson and other Fox News personalities gave coverage to a dubious study by Dr. Li-Meng Yan, an exiled Hong Kong virologist who claimed on the September 15 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight that the coronavirus was intentionally created and released by the Chinese government as a bioweapon. [Media Matters, 10/21/20]
  • Carlson claimed the coronavirus is known as COVID “to obscure any relationship” between the virus and China. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 9/15/20]
  • Carlson told viewers that he had “no way of verifying” if the claims made by Yan were actually true, but he continued to cite her description of the coronavirus as a “Frankenstein bioweapon.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 9/16/20]
  • Dr. Marc Siegel used Carlson’s show to argue that “it’s almost impossible” for people under the age of 70 to die of COVID-19. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 9/25/20]

OCTOBER

  • After the president was released from the hospital for COVID-19, Carlson argued that Trump leaving Walter Reed proves “coronavirus isn't quite as scary as they're telling you it is.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 10/5/20]
  • Carlson minimized the need to properly address the pandemic: “At some point we are all going to die.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 10/5/20]
  • Carlson compared public health officials to “ghouls in Washington” sending Americans to die in “pointless wars around the Middle East.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 10/6/20]
  • Carlson called a public service announcement about wearing masks “government propaganda,” asking, “Has there ever been shallower virtue signaling?” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 10/6/20]
  • On Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel said there's no concern over Trump working around White House staff while he is still contagious, in part because “the ventilation system and the air purification system in the Oval Office is excellent.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 10/7/20]
  • Carlson praised a 1919 rebellion against public health measures, including mask wearing, that were aimed at curbing the spread of the Spanish flu. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 10/13/20]

NOVEMBER

  • Carlson and Dr. Marc Siegel compared testing for coronavirus to a “pseudo-religion.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 11/13/20]
  • Carlson argued that the spike in coronavirus cases is proof masks and lockdowns don't work. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 11/16/20]
  • Carlson's guest compared following COVID restrictions to being “second-rate slaves.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 11/17/20]
  • Carlson hosted disgraced serial misinformer Scott Atlas for a softball interview after Atlas was ousted from the president’s COVID-19 task force. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 11/30/20; CNN, 11/30/20]

DECEMBER

  • Carlson attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci and said he should “never work in public policy again.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 12/2/20]
  • Carlson dismissed the loss of life from COVID-19 because “death is inevitable.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 12/3/20]
  • Carlson mocked warnings that 250,000 more people could die of the coronavirus by January. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 12/3/20]
  • Carlson said that Americans were right to respond “nervously” to the new vaccine, claiming the rollout “feels false, because it is. It's too slick.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 12/17/20
  • Tucker Carlson claimed the vaccine distribution plan is “eugenics” against white people. Falsly claiming that the CDC was basing it's strategy for the vaccine distribution entirely on race. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 12/18/20