Fox News personality Tucker Carlson accused Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman of "merging with a computer" for using a captioning device after having a stroke.
Carlson's remark came after Fetterman gave an interview to NBC News—his first on-camera interview since suffering a near-fatal stroke in May—in which he talked about his recovery process.
Fetterman stumbled over a few words and used captioning to read interview questions, which is a common practice among people with auditory processing or hearing issues, such as those that would happen as a result of a stroke.
Fetterman was frank about his experience, saying that he uses a captioning machine because he can sometimes "hear things in a way that’s not perfectly clear."
You can watch Fetterman's interview below.
'It Changes Everything': John Fetterman Reflects On Recovery Process After Strokewww.youtube.com
But though nothing that Fetterman said is out of the ordinary—neurologists have noted that auditory processing and hearing issues are no indication of overall intelligence—that didn't stop Carlson from mocking Fetterman, saying that his decision to "merge" with a computer is “thrilling” for trans-humanists.
You can hear what Carlson said in the video below.
"Fetterman uses a software program to understand the words of those around him and to formulate his responses to those words, in other words, to talk."
"To be perfectly clear, this software is not a hearing aid. Fetterman does not need a hearing aid because he isn't deaf, he's not hearing impaired."
"Instead this program takes words and rearranges them into language that John Fetterman can understand because his brain can no longer do that for him."
"That's sad, but for transhumanists though, it's thrilling. This is an amazing moment. This is Neil Armstrong on the moon."
"Here you have one of the most famous politicians in the country merging with a computer. This is the future they imagined."
“But for everyone else, for the voters of Pennsylvania, for example, it does raise some obvious questions. For example, where exactly does the software end and John Fetterman’s consciousness begin?”
“We don’t know, we can’t know. But it’s obvious that Pennsylvania could very well be sending a computer program to the U.S. Senate where inevitably it will be hacked.”
Carlson's attack is a classic example of ableism, which is defined as discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities or who are perceived to be disabled.
Ableism characterizes people as defined by their disabilities and inferior to the non-disabled. On this basis, people are assigned or denied certain perceived abilities, skills, or character orientations.
Closed captions were created for deaf and hard of hearing individuals to assist in comprehension. They can also be used as a tool by those learning to read, learning to speak a non-native language, or in an environment where the audio is difficult to hear or is intentionally muted. Captions can also be used by viewers who simply wish to read a transcript along with the program audio.
The technology has been in use since the early 1970s and is regularly used on television programs—which would include Carlson's show.
As such, the claim that Fetterman has "merged with a computer" and could even be "hacked" is patently absurd.
Carlson has been harshly criticized for his remarks.
There is no indication that Fetterman's intelligence has been compromised, despite attacks from prominent Republicans who have used the interview to raise questions about Fetterman's health and capacity to lead.
According to neuro-audiology experts who spoke to Washington Post reporters after Fetterman's interview, it is likely he is showing signs of aphasia, an auditory processing disorder that is caused when regions of the brain responsible for language are damaged, such as after a stroke.
Experts said "aphasia does not affect intelligence, decision-making, planning or other cognitive functions in the brain," noting that it "can be treated and improved over time through therapy."
Fetterman has been running in a crucial Pennsylvania Senate race against Dr. Mehmet Oz, the television personality best known as "Dr. Oz" who is his Republican opponent in Pennsylvania's Senate election.
Fetterman currently leads Oz by six points, according to the FiveThirtyEight polling roundup. Fetterman's campaign has increased his popularity as a result of successful social media campaigns that proved necessary following his stroke.
Fetterman's social media efforts have largely capitalized on Oz's fumbles, most recently by using one of scandal-ridden Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine's sexually charged Instagram messages to illustrate Oz's thirst for "money, fame, and power."
Fetterman has also emphasized Oz's ties to New Jersey and minimal ties to Pennsylvania due to Oz's decision to run in the Pennsylvania Senate race despite living in New Jersey, information that has further turned off potential Oz voters.