NEW YORK, N.Y. – Fox News Channel's Tucker Carlson says he felt a “moral obligation” to meet with President Donald Trump and warn him personally about the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic.
Carlson told Vanity Fair that “I didn't feel it was my role” but was convinced by his wife to meet with Trump at Mar-a-Lago on March 7. Two nights later on his Fox show, he issued a pointed warning to viewers to prepare for the coming storm.
It speaks to both Fox News' influence with the president and his supporters that a cable news host was able to contact the White House and successfully request the two-hour meeting. Carlson drove to the president's resort from his Florida home, ironically on the day some guests at Mar-a-Lago were exposed to the virus.
He declined a request to speak to The Associated Press about it on Wednesday, and the White House had no comment on a private meeting.
Carlson had sounded the alarm about the coronavirus on his show earlier than this month. On Jan. 28, he criticized the media for spending more time on the impeachment trial than the virus and, on Feb. 3, told viewers that “you should be concerned.”
Yet his blunt March 9 commentary was eye-opening, particularly in how it contrasted with attitudes expressed by some Fox colleagues. At the same time as he was talking, Trish Regan on the sister Fox Business Network was denouncing the “coronavirus impeachment scam,” suggesting the stories were an attempt to attack the president. Four days later, Fox shelved her show.
“People you know will get sick,” Carlson said that night. “Some may die. This is real. That's the point of this script — to tell you that.”
Carlson said the nation's leaders haven't helped citizens take it seriously, criticizing liberals for saying it was racist to refer to “The Chinese Coronavirus” — words displayed on the screen behind him.