If you don't make a habit of watching Tucker Carlson Tonight, your family, friends, therapist, the internet, and democracy appreciate it.
Sure seemed like President Donald Trump caught Thursday's show. Among Tucker's guests was Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, who spent six minutes flaming Minnesota's own 3M, manufacturer of the N95 respiratory masks every state wants and every frontline healthcare worker needs.
Moskowitz essentially accused the company of selling out American lives for profit, saying he'd tried to order N95 masks, but instead saw Florida's orders "pushed down" the list.
"It's because foreign countries are showing up with cash," Moskowitz said, causing the eyebrows to arch on Carlson's wildly punchable face. "And when I told 3M that, not only did they not dispute it, I asked them did they put out any guidance to prevent the behavior, and the answer was no."
Moskowitz twice described 3M's distribution scheme as "criminal," at one point describing the Fortune 500 company as "an ice cream store that doesn't sell ice cream." Moskowitz reiterated his claim that 3M is selling to "folks showing up to the factories, folks showing up to [3M], calling [3M], paying cash"—by which, he said, the company means "foreign countries."
Carlson basically asked the same question over and over, expressing shock that "these masks are literally being sold to foreign countries in the middle of a pandemic from which we're suffering profoundly," without realizing "this country comes first."
Donald Trump poignantly addressed the situation in a tweet that coincided with Carlson's show:
We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks. “P Act” all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing - will have a big price to pay!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2020
And by "hit them hard," Trump means: We asked them to sell us as much of their product as physically possible. The tweet is a reference to an order Trump's White House invoked the Defense Production Act—"'P Act' all the way," as it's... never known—in ordering 3M to produce and provide "the number of N-95 respirators that the Administrator determines to be appropriate" to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The order authorizes FEMA to "use any and all authority available...to acquire" N95 masks.
3M CEO Mike Roman said earlier this week 80 percent of that company's U.S. supply was going to hospital systems in hard-hit states like New York and Washington, the Star Tribune reports, with the other 20 percent going to the federal government, including FEMA.
3M responded to the Trump order with a statement Friday morning, saying it had "gone above and beyond to manufacture as many N95 respirators as possible for the U.S. market," and that it would continue to work with FEMA to "prioritize orders." 3M acknowledged it's been selling N95 masks in other countries—"Canada and Latin America," according to the statement—and said there's a reason they don't want to halt those deals.
"Ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done. If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease."
If, indeed, we're about to be drawn into a trade war over the distribution of essential equipment to stop the spread of coronavirus, you might have Tucker Carlson to thank.
If you don't have your own N95 mask, consider burying your face in a pillow and screaming until you pass out.