Tucker Carlson on Monday night became at least the third major Fox News host to downplay or defend QAnon on the network.
During the opening monologue of his show, Carlson devoted much of his time to attacking a proposed piece of legislation by Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida that would bar QAnon believers from obtaining a federal security clearance.
He mocked the idea that QAnon posed a major threat to the U.S. and instead attempted to portray the bill as an attempt by Democrats to impose some kind of mind control over U.S. citizens.
“There’s a clear line between democracy and tyranny, between self-government and dictatorship,” Carlson said. “And here’s what that line is. That line is your conscience. They cannot cross that. Government has every right to tell you what to do. No democratic government can ever tell you what to think.”
Carlson went on to claim that the ultimate result of this would be U.S. citizens becoming enslaved.
“If they succeed in controlling what you believe, you are no longer a citizen, you are no longer a free man; you are a slave,” Carlson said.
In recent months, QAnon has moved from a fringe conspiracy theory to a mainstream movement with millions of followers across the U.S. Its followers were central in spreading misinformation about the presidential election being “stolen,” and they played a central role in the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.
A joint bulletin issued by the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Justice on Jan. 14 specifically mentions QAnon as an extremist threat. It was released after internal memos from the FBI and the Defense Department also warned about QAnon.
Carlson did speak about a “conspiracy theory that hurt our country in immeasurable ways,” but rather than referring to QAnon, the host was speaking about the investigations into Trump’s possible collusion with Russia.
Carlson’s defense of QAnon should not come as much of a surprise, given he has hosted known QAnon supporters on his show, including Noor Bin Laden, the niece of Osama Bin Laden.
Since Trump was defeated and President Joe Biden was inaugurated — contradicting QAnon prophecy — the movement has been trying to recalibrate and find a new direction. It is also seeking validation from establishment figures within the conservative movement, and Carlson’s comments were shared by one of the biggest QAnon groups on Telegram on Monday night.
“Perhaps he has finally realized it is best to support the 80% of voters who voted for Trump because we will have him again for our president,” one member of the group commented.
Fox has increasingly embraced and boosted the conspiracy theory in recent months. Hosts Jesse Watters and Greg Gutfeld have both defended it, and shows like “Fox & Friends” have brought on multiple QAnon supporters as guests.
In fact, Carlson wasn’t the only Fox News personality on Monday night to raise a defense of QAnon.
Moments after Carlson went off air, Laura Ingraham took up the baton, saying that attempts to prevent QAnon radicalization in the military are “absolutely poisonous.”