Fox News host Tucker Carlson has sparked outrage by appearing to defend QAnon following the proposal of legislation to prevent advocates for the conspiracy theory receiving federal security clearance.
QAnon’s baseless claims include that a group of high-ranking, Satan-worshipping sex traffickers and paedophiles run the world and Donald Trump was secretly fighting against them.
The president repeatedly declined to condemn the conspiracy group while in office.
Carlson hit out at a proposed bill that would prevent QAnon theorists from obtaining or holding a federal security clearance.
He said that the legislation put forward by Democratic representative Stephanie Murphy is “designed to protect them from your criticism”.
Carlson said it has not been raising the eyebrows of “civil liberties folks” because the law “was aimed directly at the media’s sworn arch-enemies - people who went to state schools and other undesirables.”
The host then ridiculed journalists for focusing on QAnon, rather than “Chinese hegemony” or “hyperinflation”, and mockingly referred to the “forbidden idea” as the “real threat” to the country.
It has previously been identified as a domestic terrorism threat by the FBI.
After playing footage of reporters from different networks expressing concern about the spread of QAnon conspiracies, Carlson sarcastically dismissed those saying it is “frightening” that so many people across the country believe in them.
The Fox News presenter said: “We’re watching a profound change taking place in American society, and it’s happening very fast. 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.”
He said the government has the right to tell citizens what to do in regards to not committing criminal acts.
“But no democratic government can ever tell you what to think. Your mind belongs to you, it’s yours and yours alone,” Carlson added.
“Once politicians attempt to control what you believe, they are no longer politicians. They are, by definition, dictators.
“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.”
Social media users reacted to the clip.
Twitter recently suspended more than 70,000 accounts that were sharing QAnon-related content because of the “increased risk of harm” following the pro-Trump mob storming of the US Capitol.