Fox host Tucker Carlson: Trump was at "his very best” when he called COVID-19 the “Chinese virus”

Carlson, who once called white supremacy a hoax, showered Trump with praise for using the racist term

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 18, 2020 7:26PM (EDT)

Tucker Carlson (Courtesy FOX News Channel)
Tucker Carlson (Courtesy FOX News Channel)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who once claimed that white supremacy was a hoax, showered President Donald Trump with praise for using the racist term "Chinese virus" to refer to COVID-19. 

"Today, NBC News sent a tweet suggesting the president's use of the phrase 'Chinese virus' was 'both inaccurate and harmful, in tying racist associations between the virus and those from China,'" Carlson told his viewers Tuesday. "Another statement written by morons in our news media. How is it inaccurate to call a virus from China 'Chinese?'"

After saying Trump "does not seem intimidated" and showing a clip of the president defending the use of the term at a press conference, Carlson concluded: "Good for him. That was Trump at his very best."

Trump repeated the term again after Carlson's broadcast Wednesday, tweeting that "for the people that are now out of work because of the important and necessary containment policies, for instance the shutting down of hotels, bars and restaurants, money will soon be coming to you. The onslaught of the Chinese Virus is not your fault! Will be stronger than ever!"

During the press conference discussed by Carlson, Trump claimed that "China was putting out information  which was false  that our military gave this to them. It was false. And rather than having an argument, I said, 'I have to call it where it came from. It did come from China.'"

China has falsely claimed that U.S. troops visiting Wuhan in October gave the coronavirus to the Chinese people. Trump's use of the term "Chinese virus" nonetheless perpetuates racist stereotypes about Asian people.

"The comments made by President Trump intensifies the xenophobia and racism that's become rampant against Asians and Asian Americans globally," Rosalind Chou, a sociology professor at Georgia State University, told Salon on Tuesday. "He's fueling fears against Chinese, specifically. However, people of Asian ancestry across the globe may face collateral damage. These statements are dangerous and erroneously assign blame to people who are as susceptible to the disease as anyone else worldwide."

Trump is not the only Republican who has used racist language to refer to the pandemic. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., demanded an apology from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., last week after he referred to COVID-19 as the "Chinese coronavirus" in a much-criticized tweet.

"Bigoted statements which spread misinformation and blame Asians and the Asian American community for #coronavirus make us all less safe," Pelosi tweeted.

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, a member of Congress who self-quarantined after potential exposure at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, similarly found himself in hot water over a tweet. After referring to COVID-19 as the "Wuhan virus," MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes replied that his rhetoric was "astoundingly gross." 

Gosar tweeted back: "Just astoundingly ignorant to have all major media refer to it as #WuhanVirus for months but somehow, today, you've decided that's #racist.  If you think this virus cares about your race you probably work for or watch MSNBC. Wuhan Virus. Wuhan Virus. Wuhan Virus."

Carlson told Salon last year that he does not believe that conversations about racism are productive in American political discourse.

"I would never make the case that racism doesn't exist or it's not a factor," Carlson said. "Of course, it does and it is. But in the end, our racial differences or sex differences are immutable differences that can't be fixed. They can't be changed. They're set at birth, so it's not only counterproductive, but in my opinion, it is an intentional diversion away from conversations about things that we could potentially change like tax rates."

Watch the full video via Media Matters for America:


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, World War II historian Joshua Levine (consultant to "Dunkirk"), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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