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In any crisis, trust is critical -- and not just for moral reasons, for practical reasons. The government can't coordinate a national response if the public doesn't believe what it says, if it doesn't believe the government is looking out for its best interest.
That's why honesty is essential at times like this. When the government lies, people know. They can tell, and then they stop listening.
In some cases, apparently, they were sent overseas. The foreign countries who we outsourced our factories to prudently decided to keep the masks for themselves. Nationalism is real in a crisis. And of course, here in the United States, our own government didn't have nearly enough mass stockpiled to cope with what has happened.
Now from the start, honesty would have been the right policy in the face of this. They could have just said to the public, "We messed up, but health care professionals, the sick and the elderly need the masks most, so they get priority."
And people would have understood that because it makes sense. But the government didn't do that. Instead, they told us lies -- dumb lies that anyone who thought about it for a second could see right through.
Look, we understand there's a shortage of masks. We understand only certain people should get them because it's a triage moment. We get it.
They told the public you shouldn't buy masks because masks don't work. On February 29th, the U.S. surgeon general tweeted this: "Seriously, people stop buying masks. They are not effective in preventing the general public from catching coronavirus. But if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, he puts them and our communities at risk."
The CDC amplified this untruth. Even now, the CDC's official coronavirus guidelines only recommend wearing masks for those who are sick or their caregivers.
The press joined in, too. A CNN piece from March 2nd says this: "Americans don't need masks. The CDC. says that healthy people in the U.S. should not wear them because they won't protect them from the novel coronavirus. In fact face masks might actually increase your risk for infection if they aren't worn properly, but medical workers who treat patients with the novel coronavirus do need them."
Time magazine joined in to whine, "Health experts are telling healthy people not to wear face masks for coronavirus. So why are so many doing it?"
Why do you think Time magazine? You morons.
The article suggested believing in masks is some kind of superstition, like not walking under ladders or being afraid of black cats. It's insulting. It's ridiculous. They're telling you masks don't work unless you work at a hospital? How does that work? Does mask effectiveness change based on what job you do?
They're only useful if you're already sick. What? Coronavirus can spread from asymptomatic carriers. That doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
Oh, wait. You're just too dumb to wear the mask. Okay. Because it is really hard to put on.
Of course, masks work. Everyone knows that. Dozens of research papers have proved it. In South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, the rest of Asia -- where coronavirus has been kept under control -- masks were key.
So look, we understand there's a shortage of masks. We understand only certain people should get them because it's a triage moment. We get it.
But stop lying to us. It makes us cynical. It divides the country. Tell the truth. We can handle it.
Adapted from Tucker Carlson's monologue from "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on March 30, 2020.