EDMONTON -- The juggernaut primetime American opinion show Tucker Carlson Tonight – which garners an average of four million viewers a day – is shining a light on the case of a controversial pastor in the Edmonton area.

Tucker Carlson dedicated three-and-a-half minutes of his show Thursday to the story of GraceLife Church's James Coates.

Coates has been in jail since Feb. 16 after refusing to follow Alberta's public health rules regarding places of worship during the pandemic.

"It's a shocking story," Carlson said in his introduction to an interview he conducted with Coates' wife Erin.

During the interview, Erin called her husband a bible teacher and theologian who "is not able to shepherd the people he loves." She said jail has "been hard on him" and blamed an unnamed enemy for targeting her husband.

"We have a real enemy who really hates the lord Jesus Christ and really hates the blood, body that he purchased on the cross and has given new life to," she told Carlson. "We have an absolute real enemy and he uses people to target the ministers of god."

Carlson said a grown man sitting in prison for "preaching a sermon" was "obvious tyranny."

At no point during the segment, did he outline exactly what Coates' was arrested and charged for.

He ignored warnings to limit in-person attendance at his services and – after he was arrested and charged under the Public Health Act – he refused to agree to conditions which would have seen his release.

RCMP and AHS also said they witnessed masking and distancing rules being broken at GraceLife.


A MacEwan University journalism professor – with about three decades of field experience – called the interview "appalling."

"He put words in her mouth, he asked closed-ended questions, he didn't pursue questions," Brian Gorman told CTV News Edmonton. "I think he used the word 'shocking' three times. He talked about 'obvious tyranny.' Well, you know if I've got a parking ticket, I refuse to pay it, I'm going to jail. Is that tyranny or is that my stupidity?"

Gorman said Carlson's show has a "clear agenda" and called it "propaganda journalism" – a type of media he believes is being shared far too often.

"That's what worries me right now is if you put enough of this misinformation or half information, distorted information, into the public sphere – it becomes very, very difficult to discern the truth," he said.


Both Alberta Health Services and the Government of Alberta's health ministry declined to comment on the interview.

All but one charge has been dropped against Coates. He could be released as early as Monday when he has a hearing scheduled. His three-day trial is set to begin May 3.