Fox News host Tucker Carlson used his show to attack an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a “left-wing activist,” alleging that the person’s gender identity and political agenda are influencing decisions surrounding the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Carlson has recently fretted about the time table regarding how the vaccinations will be rolled out, telling viewers this week that white people will be denied the vaccine and accusing the CDC of “eugenics” because the agency previously wanted to prioritize getting essential workers vaccinated.
Earlier this month, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said health care workers and residents of nursing homes — constituting about 24 million people — should be the first groups to receive the vaccine (also referred to as Group 1A), according to The Associated Press.
The committee also reportedly weighed a recommendation that frontline essential workers — which include firefighters, police officers, teachers, and those who work in key sectors such as grocery stores, the postal service, and mass transit — receive priority over older adults when it comes to who is in the second group of those to be vaccinated (Group 1B).
But that recommendation was heavily criticized by figures from across the political spectrum, and the committee’s final recommendation was that frontline essential workers and people over age 75 receive equal priority.
A third priority group includes other non-health care essential workers, including those in public utilities, food service jobs, legal and financial jobs, and the media, as well as people aged 65-74 and those under 65 who have high-risk medical conditions.
Despite the shape of the final recommendations, the racial politics of the vaccination schedule can be fraught, as people of color tend to be overrepresented among essential workers, while those over 75 are more likely to skew white.
Despite the CDC’s final recommendation, some right-wing pundits have sought to exploit the committee’s draft proposals in order to convince elderly people or white Americans that they are being targeted or even persecuted by unseen bureaucrats.
Against that backdrop, Carlson focused on an epidemiologist whose Twitter bio contained a transgender flag, seeking to portray the worker as a radical activist whose personal views have somehow influenced or been incorporated into the CDC’s initial recommendations, even though there is no evidence to suggest that.
“[Their] name is Jo Walker,” Carlson said, misgendering Walker while alleging they are “not a disinterested scientist” but a “left-wing activist.”
“[They] describe [themselves] as ‘nonbinary.’ [They] are barely in [their] 20s…. [They] proudly displays a transgender flag in [their] Twitter account,” Carlson added. “[They] tells you that [their] preferred pronouns are they and them.”
He added that Walker “appears to be American,” but took issue with Walker’s stated support for defunding the police and referring to the United States as “occupied land.”
He did not explain how or in what manner Walker influenced the scheduling recommendations or groupings related to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine — which will ultimately be determined by individual state health departments anyway.
“So there you go,” Carlson concluded in the segment attacking Walker. “Man of science or political activist? We’ll let you answer the question.”
Walker has since deleted their account.
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