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Tucker Carlson’s ‘Criminal’ Vaccine Segment Sets the Internet on Fire

Tucker Carlson hosted controversial vaccine skeptic Alex Berenson on his Fox News show Tuesday night, outraging even some fellow conservatives.

SO WHAT

Carlson is known for pushing the envelope, but did he go too far this time?

WHAT HAPPENED

Berenson, an ex-New York Times journalist turned high-profile pandemic contrarian, told Carlson that mRNA vaccines, such as the Pfizer and Moderna shots, are “dangerous and ineffective” and should be “withdrawn from the market.”

“We’re at a very dangerous moment, Tucker, and I’m not exaggerating. I think this is probably the most important appearance I’ve had with you in the last two years,” Berenson said.

  • “It is completely clear now that the vaccines don’t really work at all against omicron. In these highly-vaccinated and highly boosted countries, rates of infection are incredibly high and rates of serious disease and death are also rising.”
  • Earlier in the show, Carlson said COVID-19 infections are “skyrocketing” in countries like Israel that have the highest rates of vaccination.

THE REACTION

The usual liberal critics decried Carlson’s “platforming” of Berenson, with at least one prominent Twitter account deeming the segment “criminal.”

  • Washington Post national correspondent Philip Bump wrote Wednesday: “Berenson’s predilection for apocalyptic proclamations led to one of the most dishonest and dangerous segments in the history of Carlson’s show — which is a high, high bar to clear.”
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, answered a question about the segment at a White House briefing Wednesday: “You can’t walk away from the facts. And the facts are stunningly obvious.”

More unusually, a number of conservative commentators on Twitter joined the backlash against Carlson.

  • “How many Americans have died of COVID because they believed lies peddled on [Carlson’s] show?” said John McCormack, National Review’s Washington correspondent. “The number is greater than zero.”
  • Patrick Brennan, who served as a senior communications official at the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services, called Carlson’s exchange with Berenson “absolutely rotten nonsense.”
  • “The data is incredibly clear that the mRNA vaccines very effectively reduce hospitalization and death. Berenson was right, before most admitted it, that effectiveness against infection did wane. But these are just lies.”
  • Former President Donald Trump has himself taken to strongly promoting COVID-19 vaccines.

On Wednesday, “Fox & Friends” touted the efficacy of the vaccines during a segment with Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor of medicine at New York University’s Langone Medical Center and regular “Tucker Carlson Tonight contributor.

THE EVIDENCE

Vaccines have indeed done little to reduce transmission of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, and COVID-19 infections and deaths have been rising in Israel and other countries with high rates of vaccination.

However, the rates of hospitalization and death per infection have been much lower during the omicron surge than in previous phases of the pandemic, including in Israel.

  • Unvaccinated Americans are over 90% more likely to die from COVID-19 than are those who received a booster, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

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