It’s April Fools Day and in normal times it’s one of those days that I usually look forward to. The jokes and pranks and the social media hits and complete misses. They are all things that can bring a big smile to the face if done right, or leave us shaking our heads in disbelief if they miss the mark. It can be one of the lighter days on the calendar and when it goes right, can be a great pick me up coming out of the cold, long winter.
So naturally on this day or the night before the antennae go up and start to watch for these pranks to come. Volkswagen US pulled a cute prank of its own a few days ahead of the date, so of course in this year of COVID and everything else, it would make some sense that those antennas would need to go up sooner than later. But sometimes things come across your social media feed that leave you gob smacked at this time of year not because it’s a joke. No, sometimes it’s because the person is being totally serious in what they’re saying and, in the process, looks like a complete fool in the process. This year our prime example of this truest April Fool is delivered by Fox News out of the US and none other than host Tucker Carlson:
Normally I would rarely if ever link to a Fox News piece on this blog, but I made a clear exception in this case because of the absurdity of that clip. Remember, that video is coming from the host of a nightly show whose own network has said in court is full of crap. Back in the Fall, lawyers for Fox News actually argued this before a court, using the following argument:
“The “‘general tenor’ of the show should then inform a viewer that [Carlson] is not ‘stating actual facts’ about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary.’ “Source: NPR
Yes folks, Fox’s own lawyers admitted in court, while trying to defend Carlson against accusations of slander. And guess what folks? It worked! Yeah everyone, the jokes keep on coming here because here is what U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil wrote in her opinion on this:
“”Fox persuasively argues, that given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer ‘arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statement he makes… Whether the Court frames Mr. Carlson’s statements as ‘exaggeration,’ ‘non-literal commentary,’ or simply bloviating for his audience, the conclusion remains the same — the statements are not actionable.”Source: NPR
In most normal places or at any real news network, if one of your lead hosts was so bad that “any reasonable viewer ‘arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statement he makes”, his or her rear end would be gone. Period. Yet that’s not the case when it comes to Tucker Carlson. He just keeps going on bringing Americans “exaggerations” like that piece above from last night.
Of course, a serious journalist would have done some basic homework, like a Google search, to see what this was all about. No instead he breaks off the nob on the exaggeration calling the use of hotels to quarantine travelers returning to the country for three days “internment camps”. He expresses “shock” that this has been going on for a month and that no other American network has pointed this out, that the US State Department hasn’t said a peep, as if somehow their silence was a signal of something “bigger” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). He calls this all a “flagrant abuse of human rights”. He does this all with no apparent sarcasm or self-awareness, as he rages on with lies and inuendo, while describing the actions of Canada in enforcing public health measures as the end of the world. He even compared Justin Trudeau of former Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini.
It was all so over the top that if you mistook it for fake or for a piece of well written performance art, you couldn’t have been blamed for it. But folks, this idiot is serious, deadly serious. And millions of Americans watch him religiously every bloody night. That’s not a bug of the American system these days, oh no that’s a feature.
But again, to drive home this point, there is an actual, legit reason why other American networks, or the US State Department, haven’t beaten Carlson to this punch. That’s because Carlson is completely full of BS. Don’t believe me, ask his own networks lawyers. Also, some basic research shows just how much BS Carlson is really full of. If you took Carlson at his word, you’d think he’d be calling out all American companies that might have been involved in this. I mean look at the lists of approved hotels used for the quarantines: it’s filled with Sheratons, Hiltons, Marriotts, Holiday Inns and more American hotel chains. You’d think that if that if what Carlson said was really happening that they would want nothing to do with it.
But of course that’s not what’s happening here. What “internment camp” system in the history of the World has ever had an exemption list that would excuse people from attending them? That’s right, they wouldn’t. They surely wouldn’t post them and all the information about this on a public website where everyone on Earth could see it with a quick Google Search. When regimes abuse human rights and lock up people en masse in “internment camps”, there are no exemptions, no exceptions and no mercy. You know, like when the Trump administration separated families at the Mexican boarder and locked children in cages. But of course Carlson and his Fox News colleagues didn’t jump to that conclusion back then. Oh no, they cheered it on while some on their shows even called it like “summer camp”.
I could spend all day debunking this crap from Carlson on that crazy screed but let’s get back to the nub this story that highlights the problem. Carlson is full of crap, period, full stop. Did the quarantine hotel set up go off without a hitch? No. Were there problems, including some cases of sexual assault? Yes. Does the Trudeau government need to do a better job with this and fix the issues? Absolutely. But does any of that actually come within a million miles of rising to the example of “internment camps”? Hell to the no.
There are very serious historical connotations that come with using such terms, which is part of the reason why serious people just don’t throw those words around. That’s why when you see covidiots and anti-maskers throwing terms like that around, we rightfully ignore them. That’s why wen you see hyper-partisan mouthpieces like Carlson throwing around such comparison we treat them with such distain, or as Fox’s lawyer put it, “with an appropriate amount of skepticism”. They are not only trying to score the cheapest of political points against either politicians or ideological views they disagree with, but they are also doing so while denigrating those who have actually suffered under such policies. It’s among the most selfish and abhorrent behaviours in our current politics, and it needs to go away fast.
On this day when some people decide to act like a fool for a joke, there are others like Carlson who live their lives as a fool every day, 24/7, 365. They act like an idiot, preying on people who either want to believe the worst of the other or those they disagree with. I am no fan of Justin Trudeau and I would never vote for him, but to literally compare him to Benito Mussolini? Come on now, that’s not only an insane comparison, but that’s also an insult to the memories of those who died because of Mussolini and his reign of terror over Italy. Only a truly callous and selfish fool would utter such words on national television and think that’s alright.
Carlson isn’t just a fool one day of the year, this is just who he is. He has clearly embraced the lifestyle of a fool and should probably have a “Fool Life” tattoo somewhere on his privileged body. But the problem with this fool is that people listen to him. While Fox News’ lawyers might have been able to convince a judge that “reasonable viewers” wouldn’t take him at his words, the evidence shows otherwise. When you look at his following, including in the halls of the United States Capitol, that would show that either he has convinced a lot of “reasonable” people that he’s telling the truth or that he’s attracted a lot of “unreasonable” people. I’ll leave that for others to decide but if this idiotic episode reminds us of anything, it’s why we constantly have to pay attention to what’s happening with our erratic neighbours to our South. Because when their village idiot decides to act as he is, it can have an effect on us, even when we are trying to do something as simple as get people to follow basic public health measures in the middle of a global pandemic.