On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed when an officer of the Minneapolis Police Department knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
Once videos of Floyd's death by asphyxiation circulated widely on the internet, a protest movement picked up steam. The remainder of 2020 saw countless protests in cities across the US and the entire world.
Those demonstrations called for an end to the racist police killings of black and brown people, a list that numbers so many more than just George Floyd.
Floyd's death occurred less than a year ago, but Fox News' Tucker Carlson has already begun trying to rewrite history. During his show Wednesday evening, Carlson claimed that Floyd died of a drug overdose.
Carlson spewed the lie while he incorrectly refuted Democrats' claims in the ongoing impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the January 6 Capitol insurrection:
"The known facts of what happened on January 6 deviate in very important ways from the story [Democrats] are now telling us...and in many places the known facts bear no resemblance to the story they're telling. They're just flat out lying."
"The question is, why are they lying."
Then, under the auspices of providing context, Carlson told another falsehood, this time about the death of George Floyd:
"Beginning on Memorial Day, [Black Lives Matter] and their sponsors in corporate America completely changed this country."
"How'd they do that? They used the sad death of a man called George Floyd to upend our society. Months later we learned that the story they told us about Floyd's death was an utter lie."
"There was no physical evidence that George Floyd was murdered by a cop. The autopsy showed that George Floyd almost certainly died of a drug overdose--Fentanyl."
That is not true.
There was physical evidence George Floyd was murdered by a police officer.
Two autopsies concluded that.
First, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner performed an autopsy and declared that Floyd's death was cause by "a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s)."
The Medical Examiner cited fentanyl intoxication as an "other significant condition," but not as a cause of death.
Hennepin County Medical Examiner
Floyd's family also ordered an independent autopsy which concluded Floyd died of a "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain."
So whichever autopsy is cited, Floyd's death was ruled a homicide.
Take a look at Carlson's nonfactual rant for yourself.
How is it that Tucker Carlson is still on the air? How does Tucker Carlson have any advertisers? How does Tucker Ca… https://t.co/oVi98YXRLE— Mike Sington (@Mike Sington) 1613052230.0
As the clip circulated on Twitter, people expressed outrage.
They called for Fox News to take Carlson off the air and they pushed for boycotts of the few sponsors still advertising during Carlson's show.
@MikeSington Who are his writers? Where do they get their ideas? Why aren’t they working on tv making fictional shows?— Richard Lund (@Richard Lund) 1613058955.0
@amazon after seeing the segment that aired on Fox where Tucker Carlson says he is not sure about what happened in… https://t.co/jpqPrPzCXC— Just. Gus. (@Just. Gus.) 1613038205.0
This week, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson seeded doubt about a CDC-approved vaccine during a pandemic, said George Floyd… https://t.co/QJbRnAlgdv— Sleeping Giants (@Sleeping Giants) 1613150478.0
@Acyn I’d kick in a few bucks for legal fees to George Floyd’s family if they sue Tucker Carlson for saying he died… https://t.co/z4UHsmfYmw— Afi: Born On A Friday (@Afi: Born On A Friday) 1613100497.0
George Floyd was killed twice. First, as Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, and then onc… https://t.co/IfDQQFedRP— Jeremy Newberger (@Jeremy Newberger) 1613043847.0
Even Fox News itself has deemed Carlson's comments nothing anybody should take seriously. The conservative television network, in defending Carlson against accusations of slander, argued that Carlson's cannot be believed by viewers, NPR reported.
Mary Kay Vyskocil, the judge overseeing that case, laid it out in her opinion:
"Fox persuasively argues, that given Mr. Carlson's reputation, any reasonable viewer 'arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism' about the statement he makes."
"Whether the Court frames Mr. Carlson's statements as 'exaggeration,' 'non-literal commentary,' or simply bloviating for his audience, the conclusion remains the same — the statements are not actionable."
Nonetheless, Carlson's comments continue to fill the airwaves and kick around on Twitter. But perhaps the now legally ordered skepticism will result in the fact checking necessary to wade through the lies and the truths.