Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday night pandered to and seemingly defended QAnon, the violently unhinged conspiracy theory whose adherents believe that a deep state cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiliac cannibals is plotting against former President Donald Trump.
After an insurrectionist mob incited by Trump stormed the Capitol in order to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory, social media companies cracked down and purged thousands of QAnon accounts and pages from their platforms. In a statement, Twitter said the accounts violated its rules on “coordinated harmful activity.”
“We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm, and given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behavior in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content,” Twitter added.
On Monday night, Carlson devoted much of his opening monologue to breathlessly telling his viewers that Democrats are trying to ensure one-party rule over the country. Besides complaining about social media bans and de-platforming, Carlson blasted a proposed bill by Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) that would bar QAnon conspiracists from holding a federal security clearance.
After mocking Democratic lawmakers over the Russia investigation, calling it a “conspiracy theory that hurt our country in immeasurable ways,” the Fox News star then turned to his audience and said that Murphy’s bill is “designed to protect them from your criticism.”
Grousing that the bill isn’t raising eyebrows among “traditional civil liberties people,” Carlson guessed that is because the law was aimed directly at the “media’s sworn arch-enemies—people who went to state schools and other undesirables!”
In an increasingly derisive tone, the conservative primetime host then ridiculed extremism reporters for not focusing their energy on “Chinese hegemony” or “hyperinflation” but rather on the increasingly dangerous conspiracy, which he mockingly referred to as “the single biggest threat to this country.”
“The real threat is a forbidden idea,” he sneered. “It’s something called QAnon.”
After airing a montage of reporters expressing concern about those who have been gripped by the conspiracy theory, which has been described as a domestic terrorism threat by the FBI, Carlson mocked New York Times columnist Tom Friedman for saying it is “frightening” that so many people believe in these crazed theories.
“We’re watching a profound change taking place in American society, and it’s happening fast,” Carlson said. “The stakes could not be higher. There’s a clear line between democracy and tyranny, between self-government and dictatorship, and here’s what that line is. That line is your conscience. They cannot cross that.”
While governments “have every right to tell you what to do” via laws, he said, they can never “tell you what to think.”
“Your mind belongs to you, it’s yours and yours alone,” he added. “And if they succeed in controlling what you believe, you are no longer a citizen, you are not a free man, you are a slave.”
The Fox News host then linked the crackdown on QAnon conspiracists to growing criticism of Fox News and other right-wing media, pointing to a Washington Post column that called the network a “hazard to our democracy” as an effort by “stupid” people to have Fox “eliminated by force.”
This isn’t the first time a Fox News personality has expressed sympathy for QAnon. Last July, for instance, Fox News host Jesse Watters lauded the extremist movement, saying it has “uncovered a lot of great stuff when it comes to Epstein and when it comes to the deep state.” (Watters later walked those comments back.)