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The Good and Bad of Tucker Carlson

Summary:
Along with a slight appreciation of Laura Ingraham. Consistent with the spirit of my most recent post, “Socratic Grilling as a Way to Learn,” I watch the Fox News Channel a few times a week and often flip to CNN to see what they’re saying. On both networks, people spin like crazy. Which does not mean that you can’t learn from each. I’ll give an example from last night, where I learned something important from one of Tucker Carlson’s interviews and also noticed how severely his nationalism and hostility to China can get in the way of clear thinking. First, the good. Tucker interviewed Alex Berenson, a former reporter for the New York Times. Of course the subject was COVID-19. Berenson led with the caveat that he’s not an epidemiologist but that his expertise is

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Along with a slight appreciation of Laura Ingraham.

Consistent with the spirit of my most recent post, “Socratic Grilling as a Way to Learn,” I watch the Fox News Channel a few times a week and often flip to CNN to see what they’re saying. On both networks, people spin like crazy. Which does not mean that you can’t learn from each.

I’ll give an example from last night, where I learned something important from one of Tucker Carlson’s interviews and also noticed how severely his nationalism and hostility to China can get in the way of clear thinking.

First, the good. Tucker interviewed Alex Berenson, a former reporter for the New York Times. Of course the subject was COVID-19. Berenson led with the caveat that he’s not an epidemiologist but that his expertise is another area: comparing predictions with what actually happened.

Berenson stated that a model used by the government in, I think, Washington state predicted about a week ago that the number of hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in New York by yesterday would be about 50,000 whereas the actual number was 13,000. That’s incredibly valuable information, if true. It should cause people who follow that model to take a careful look at their model. Are they doing so? I have no idea.

Second, the bad. Later in the show, Tucker showed a segment in which an English-speaking doctor, an American, I believe, talked about how well the Chinese government had handled the crisis in Wuhan, where it originated. The doctor then went to suggest that we in American should bring over a few thousand of those Chinese doctors to help us here. Then Tucker did his signature laugh and stated that the doctor had said we should have doctors from China run our hospitals. My wife and I looked at each other like “What?” The doctor hadn’t even suggested that Chinese doctors run our hospitals. What he seemed to be saying is that we should hire them as inputs because they know a lot.

What I’ve noticed that is characteristic of Tucker: when the issue involves China or immigration, he loses his critical faculties. When it involves both, as this did to some extent, it’s almost a guarantee that he will lose his critical faculties.

I’ve not generally been a fan of Laura Ingraham but we watched her for more than a few minutes because lately she has been quite good at reminding her audience of the catastrophic costs of shutting down a huge percent of the economy. She was quite good on that yesterday. She also had on Alan Dershowitz, an emeritus professor of law at Harvard. Dershowitz made some good points about loss of liberty. As per usual, though, when he started to say things she didn’t like, Ingraham cut off the conversation pretty quickly. The particular thing here was his statement that it was not justified for some state governments to close down abortion clinics.

Note: Here’s a piece I wrote back in 2005, when I was more of a fan of Fox News Channel. I gave them 2 cheers. I think it’s now about 1.5 or maybe less.

David Henderson
David Henderson is a British economist. He was the Head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the OECD in 1984–1992. Before that he worked as an academic economist in Britain, first at Oxford (Fellow of Lincoln College) and later at University College London (Professor of Economics, 1975–1983); as a British civil servant (first as an Economic Advisor in HM Treasury, and later as Chief Economist in the Ministry of Aviation); and as a staff member of the World Bank (1969–1975). In 1985 he gave the BBC Reith Lectures, which were published in the book Innocence and Design: The Influence of Economic Ideas on Policy (Blackwell, 1986).

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