Fox News host Tucker Carlson has the highest-rated show on cable, a devoted following on the right, and "may be the most powerful conservative in America," Charlotte Alter reports at Time. But he won't say if he has been vaccinated against COVID-19.
When Alter asked him about his vaccination status at the end of a "meandering phone conversation" in June, she writes in a Carlson profile published Thursday, he replied: "Because I'm a polite person, I'm not going to ask you any supervulgar personal questions like that." Alter told Carlson he was welcome to ask her whatever he wanted, she adds, and "he broke into a cackle, like a hyena let loose in Brooks Brothers. 'I mean, are you serious? What's your favorite sexual position and when did you last engage in it?'"
"For someone who talks a lot about the right to ask questions, Carlson never did give me a straight answer," Alter writes. "Carlson has mastered the Trumpian mathematics of outrage — the more outlandish his rhetoric, the more vehement the backlash, the more formidable he becomes" — but "instead of Trumpian boasting, Carlson insists he's just asking questions." And this eagerness to ask impolitic questions "has made him the top general in the war against Americans' sense of shared reality," she adds. This matters with vaccinations and COVID-19 behaviors more generally because "studies have suggested that Carlson has the ability to alter viewers' behavior" more than anybody else at Fox News, for better or worse. Read more about Carlson's influence and the wiles of "Tuckerism" at Time.