President Donald Trump's approach to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has changed dramatically over the past few weeks. At first he dismissed the virus as a minor concern, but he has since shifted to more dramatic measures to squash the spread of it across the country. White House sources have told the Washington Post there's a reason for that, and far-right Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson is a big part of it.
Some Republicans have remained skeptical over the severity of the pandemic, but a monologue in which Carlson said "this is real" was apparently enough to convince Trump to take matters more seriously. Closer to the start of the month, Trump compared COVID-19 to the common flu, but now he has been stressing the importance of self-isolation and social distancing.
Carlson has been a huge supporter of Trump since day one, and unlike a lot of his Fox News peers he has stressed that the situation is more dire than some might think. He openly criticized coverage from media which has "spent weeks minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem," and added that "it's definitely not just the flu."
After Trump saw this speech, in which Carlson called people dimissing the virus "foolish," the President decided to change his approach. At the time of the monologue, there were 500 confirmed cases in the U.S., but Carlson warned that "the real number is without question far higher." Additionally, the host said COVID-19 will cause massive economic damage to the country. "People you know will get sick—some may die. This is real."
White House spokesman Judd Deere denied the allegation that Tucker Carlson influenced Trump's shift in tone, telling Business Insider that Trump "took decisive action early on to close our borders to the source of the virus and it is because of his leadership and relationships that he has brought together government and private industry for unprecedented collaboration to curb the spread of the virus."