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Carlson says he felt obligation to meet with Trump on virus
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Carlson says he felt obligation to meet with Trump on virus

Carlson says he felt obligation to meet with Trump on virus
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Richard Drew, File
FILE - In this March 2, 2017 file photo, Tucker Carlson, host of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio, in New York. Carlson says he felt a moral obligation to meet with President Donald Trump to warn him about the seriousness of coronavirus. He told Vanity Fair that while he didn't feel it was his role, his wife convinced him to request the meeting, which took place on March 7. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Carlson says he felt obligation to meet with Trump on virus

Fox News Channel's Tucker Carlson says he felt a “moral obligation” to meet with President Donald Trump and warn him personally about the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic.

Carlson told Vanity Fair that “I didn't feel it was my role” but was convinced by his wife to meet with Trump at Mar-a-Lago on March 7. Two nights later on his Fox show, he issued a pointed warning to viewers to prepare for the coming storm.

It speaks to both Fox News' influence with the president and his supporters that a cable news host was able to contact the White House and successfully request the two-hour meeting. Carlson drove to the president's resort from his Florida home, ironically on the day some guests at Mar-a-Lago were exposed to the virus.

He declined a request to speak to The Associated Press about it on Wednesday, and the White House had no comment on a private meeting.

Carlson had sounded the alarm about the coronavirus on his show earlier than this month. On Jan. 28, he criticized the media for spending more time on the impeachment trial than the virus and, on Feb. 3, told viewers that “you should be concerned.”

Yet his blunt March 9 commentary was eye-opening, particularly in how it contrasted with attitudes expressed by some Fox colleagues. At the same time as he was talking, Trish Regan on the sister Fox Business Network was denouncing the “coronavirus impeachment scam,” suggesting the stories were an attempt to attack the president. Four days later, Fox shelved her show.

“People you know will get sick,” Carlson said that night. “Some may die. This is real. That's the point of this script — to tell you that.”

Carlson said the nation's leaders haven't helped citizens take it seriously, criticizing liberals for saying it was racist to refer to “The Chinese Coronavirus” — words displayed on the screen behind him.

“If we're being honest, the other side has not been especially helpful, either,” Carlson said. “People you trust — people you probably voted for — have spent weeks minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem. It's just partisan politics, they say, calm down. In the end this is just like the flu and people die of that every year."

It's not, he said, noting that the death rate for the coronavirus was much higher.

He named no names. His fellow Fox News host, Sean Hannity, has repeatedly brought up seasonal flu in connection with the coronavirus, to the point where Dr. Anthony Fauci implored him last week not to ignore the new disease's lethality.

Most people who get the coronavirus have only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

Fox confirmed that Carlson has not been tested for the disease and hasn't experienced any symptoms.

Carlson told Vanity Fair that he told Trump “exactly what I've said on TV, that this could be really bad.” He hasn't talked about his meeting on television and wanted to keep it a secret, although it was revealed in a story by The New York Times.

After weeks of trying to downplay the risk of the coronavirus, Trump has taken a more urgent tone in recent days and led daily briefings with federal leaders about developments.

“I think a lot of people around him, and I mean broadly around him — particularly Republican members on Capitol Hill, in leadership, too — were determined to pretend this wasn't happening,” he told the magazine. “I felt I had to do it, even though I suspected on some level it would probably hurt me if I did it.”

Carlson said it's hard to tell a straightforward story at a time people see most everything through a partisan or ideological lens. Polls have shown Democrats to be more concerned about the coronavirus than Republicans.

“It's hard to get people's attention if you know you're saying something that they suspect is political propaganda,” he said. “It's something people have worried about for a long time — what if there's a crisis, and no one will believe the coverage? Well, okay, that's where we are.”

He said a lot of people are to blame for that, “including probably me.”

___

The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Biden says Democratic National Convention likely to be postponed amid coronavirus crisis Update 1:28 a.m. EDT April 2: The Democratic National Convention will likely be shelved for several months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said during a Wednesday night webcam interview on “The Tonight Show.”The “I doubt whether the Democratic convention is going to be able to be held in mid-July, early July,” Biden said, adding, “I think it’s going to have to move into August.” The convention is currently slated for July 13-16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jazz icon Ellis Marsalis Jr., 85, dies from coronavirus complications Update 1:12 a.m. EDT April 2: Jazz legend and patriarch of a musical dynasty Ellis Marsalis Jr. died on Wednesday from complications associated with the novel coronavirus. He was 85. 'Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement, adding, “He was a teacher, a father, and an icon — and words aren’t sufficient to describe the art, the joy and the wonder he showed the world.”  US coronavirus deaths hit 5,119, total cases top 216K Update 12:20 a.m. EDT April 2: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 216,000 early Thursday morning across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 216,515 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 5,119 deaths. U.S. cases now outnumber those in any other nation by wide margins, including more than twice the 110,574 reported in Italy and the 104,118 confirmed in Spain. Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 1,941 – or roughly 40 percent of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 355 in New Jersey and 337 in Michigan.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 83,712 confirmed cases – or more than three times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 22,255 and Michigan with 9,334. Five other states have now confirmed at least 6,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 8,155, including 171 deaths • Massachusetts: 7,738, including 122 deaths • Florida: 7,495, including 100 deaths • Illinois: 6,980, including 141 deaths • Louisiana: 6,424, including 273 deaths Meanwhile, Washington and Pennsylvania each has confirmed at least 5,000 novel coronavirus infections, trailed only slightly by Georgia with 4,748 cases; Texas, Connecticut and Colorado each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Police found 192 rolls of toilet paper, a hot commodity as people isolate and self-quarantine amid the coronavirus, in a stolen SUV on Tuesday. Beverly Hills police found the toilet paper after pulling over the stolen white SUV, KTTV reported. It was unclear if the toilet paper had been stolen. “The driver was arrested for several charges — unrelated to the toilet paper,” Beverly Hills police Lt. Elizabeth Albanese told the Los Angeles Times. The driver’s identity was not released. A gun was also recovered during the search of the vehicle, KTTV reported. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, people in communities across the country have panic purchased shelves-worth of toilet paper. The department joked on social media about the arrest: “Gives ‘They saw me rollin’...’ a whole new meaning.”
  • At first, the Internal Revenue Service said that to get a stimulus payment during the COVID-19 pandemic, a tax return had to be filed. That would have left many Social Security beneficiaries without the financial boost. But late Wednesday, the Treasury Department said that was not the case. “Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return need to take no action and will receive their payment directly to their bank account,' Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said, according to The Washington Post. The stimulus package, which will inject $2.2 trillion into the economy that is faltering because of the coronavirus outbreak was going to use 2018 or 2019 tax returns to see how much money each household gets. Many of those who get Social Security benefits make less than the required amount that is needed to file a tax return, the Post reported. The IRS will use the information from the Social Security Administration so payees to get the additional money from the government, CNN reported. If someone does not use direct deposit, then the government will send them traditional checks, but that process is expected to take longer than the wire transfers, according to CNN.
  • A 7-week-old Connecticut child has died of complications from the coronavirus, officials said. The unresponsive infant was taken to a hospital last week. The child could not be revived and posthumously tested positive for the coronavirus, WTNH reported. “This is a virus that attacks our most fragile without mercy,” Gov. Ned Lamont said on social media Wednesday. “This also stresses the importance of staying home and limiting exposure to other people. Your life and the lives of others could literally depend on it. Our prayers are with the family at this difficult time.” While older people are more at risk, there have been some cases that impact the very young. On Saturday, an infant less than a year old died from the coronavirus in Illinois. In China, a 10-month-old died from the coronavirus, the New England Journal of Medicine reported March 18. There have been 85 deaths from the coronavirus in Connecticut, WTNH reported.
  • A Virginia man who died in 1997 has been named as the killer of a 12-year-old girl bludgeoned to death nearly five decades ago. Karen Lee Spencer was last seen alive on Nov. 29, 1972, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. “Her body was discovered on Dec. 2 by a group of young boys in what was then known as Fifer’s Field, a wooded area located southeast of what is now the Huntington Metro Station, between Mount Eagle Park and North Kings Highway,” Fairfax County police officials said in a statement. “An autopsy showed Karen died from repeated blunt force trauma to the upper body.” Authorities said Fifer’s Field, along with the Fairhaven 7-Eleven near her home, were hangouts for Karen and other neighborhood children, including James “Jimmy” Edwards, a 16-year-old boy believed to be Karen’s boyfriend. In the years following the slaying, Edwards was considered one of several people of interest in the case. Police officials said Edwards, who denied involvement in the murder, died Aug. 23, 1997. “In the summer of 2018, two independent acquaintances of Jimmy revealed to detectives that in the early 90’s, Jimmy confided in them he killed a girl and buried her in a field when he was a teenager,” police officials said. “Over the next year and a half, detectives received additional tips that supported this information and other previous investigative findings that implicated Edwards.” Authorities said other persons of interest were eliminated based on evidence in the case and in December 2019, the Fairfax County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney determined prosecutors would have had enough evidence to support arresting and prosecuting Edwards. “For nearly five decades, major crimes detectives remained steadfast in their pursuit of justice for 12-year-old Karen Lee Spencer and her family”, Major Ed O’Carroll, commander of the department’s Major Crimes Bureau, said in a statement. “I am proud of the work of Detective Flanagan and all detectives who contributed to the closure of this case. “The fact that they never gave up combined with our community’s willingness to come forward with information were critical in solving this case.”

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