Gee, what’s trending on Twitter today? Well, #MayThe4thBeWithYou is currently top of the list, which makes sense since it’s indeed May 4 and Yoda is Yoda. But take a look at what’s fifth on the list: #CreepyTucker.
In this case, Tucker presumably does not refer to Tucker, the Shetland pony in the 2005 movie Racing Stripes. Instead, the subject of the hashtag seems to be Tucker Carlson, who is not a Shetland pony but rather a FOX News television show host. Now, the word “creepy” is rarely positive. “Proactive and creepy” would not be a great phrase to have on your job performance evaluation and “looking for someone creepy” may not be the best line to put on your dating profile, although it may get lots of attention. So why oh why is Carlson being called creepy? Is it because he once told Lauren Duca, a Teen Vogue writer, to stick to “thigh-high boots” after she wrote about Ivanka Trump?
Not exactly. As they say after a fight occurs in kindergarten, Carlson used the word “creepy” first. On Carlson’s FOX News show, he used it to describe former-U.S. President Barack Obama and Obama’s recently released public service announcement (PSA) encouraging people to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Before showing a clip of the PSA, Carlson said, “Barack Obama just released a creepy little video telling small children to get the shot,” as can be see in the video accompanying this tweet:
Carlson followed the PSA clip by saying, “Some creepy old guy telling your children, your little kids to take medicine with effects we don’t fully understand. Totally normal. That happens every day. Don’t ask questions. Just do it. CNN explained recently we’re not getting our freedom back until you do.” By the way, Carlson is about eight years younger than Obama, in chronological age, that is.
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Umm, is that what you got from Obama’s PSA? Let’s dissect what Obama said. The former U.S. President started off the PSA by saying, “Hi everybody. It’s Barack.” Yes, saying “hi” and introducing yourself can be pretty darn shocking. And he didn’t even say something like, “Perhaps you recognize me, it’s your favorite president,” as another previous President and current Mar-A-Lago resident has said in the past.
Obama continued with “now that every American over the age of 16 is eligible to get the vaccine, I want to talk about you getting yours.” Is this what Carlson meant by “little kids” or “small children?” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Control (CDC) has recommended that: “everyone 16 years of age and older in the U.S. population under the EUA get the applicable Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible.” In this case, EUA means Emergency Use Authorization, rather than “excessive use of acronyms.” At no point during the PSA did Obama tell those under 16 to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
Next in the PSA Obama relayed that, “The vaccine is safe. It’s effective. It’s free. I got one. Michelle got one. People you know got one. And now, you can get one too.” Indeed, studies to date have shown that the Covid-19 vaccines can offer between 60% to over 90% protection against severe Covid-19. Serious adverse reactions have been very rare to date. And as the recent pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine has shown, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC are taking vaccine safety very seriously.
Carlson’s phrase “with effects we don’t fully understand” could essentially apply to nearly everything that you use, eat, or stick on or into your body every day. Do you know everything that the food that you eat, the supplements that you take, the cream that you smear on your face, that pillow that you sleep on, or that smartphone that you have glued to your head may do to you and your body? No, of course, not. That’s why warnings on many consumer goods have to be periodically updated. That’s why there have been people killed from using too much deodorant and hair extensions. Would thinking about how many people have been killed by toilets prompt you to say, “oh, bleep, oh, bleep, toilet going to get me, toilet going to get me,” every time you use the porcelain throne? If you were to limit your daily activities to only those things you fully understand, you would basically do nothing, except that we don’t even fully understand the effects of doing nothing.
Obama’s PSA didn’t exactly have the “don’t ask questions. Just do it,” vibe either. In my previous article for Forbes, I covered not only how John Oliver called Carlson a “scrunch-faced fear baboon,” with apologies to baboons, but also how Carlson’s claims that Americans are being “discouraged from asking simple straightforward questions,” are just not consistent with what’s really happened. Real scientists have continued to publish Covid-19 vaccine studies and make themselves available to answer questions. The CDC, the FDA, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have kept their websites updated. Meanwhile, in recent episodes of his show, rather than real medical experts, Carlson’s guests have been largely his facial expressions including some scrunching of his face.
Obama concluded the PSA segment by stating that “the only way we’re going to get back to all the things we love — from safely spending time with grandparents to going to concerts and watching live sports. So get the vaccine as soon as you can.” There should be nothing creepy about getting more people vaccinated to slow and hopefully stop the spread of the virus, unless, of course, you somehow happen to view your grandpa and grandma as “creepy.” Therefore, it’s not clear what exactly Carlson found “creepy” about what Obama said.
Speaking of “creepy,” @MeidasTouch subsequently “asked” others on social media to not let #CreepyTucker trend, which is a bit like saying, “please don’t pay attention to the marmot on my head.” So, lo and behold, #CreepyTucker started trending on Twitter. And trending, and trending:
This trend happened despite pleas such as the following:
Does the use of the same hashtag four times in one tweet count multiple times for Twitter’s trending lists? Regardless, looks like Carlson’s use of the “creepy” label ended creeping in the opposite direction as well.