Supporters of the far-right QAnon conspiracy cult were among the extremists who violently stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, inspiring national security experts to voice concerns about QAnon possibly making inroads in the military and law enforcement. But some pundits at Fox News, including Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, don't view QAnon as a threat and are now defending the movement by equating criticism of QAnon with attacks on free speech.
Carlson, during one of his angry rants on Tuesday night, mocked the idea that QAnon is dangerous.
"The real threat is a forbidden idea," Carlson said mockingly. "It's something called QAnon."
Carlson went on to show a collage of cable news clips describing QAnon's extremism before suggesting that those attacking QAnon are promoting "tyranny."
"No democratic government can ever tell you what to think," Carlson told viewers. "Your mind belongs to you. It is yours and yours alone."
This was a non-sequitur. The clips he had showed included media figures sharing fears and concerns about the belief system, not a call for the government to "tell you what to think."
Carlson went on to denounce QAnon critics as a "mob of censors, hysterics and Jacobin destroyers, all working on behalf of entrenched power to take total control of everything."
In a rant of her own, Ingraham showed a clip of Jen Psaki — the new White House press secretary under President Joe Biden — telling reporters that the National Security Council will try to determine "how the government can share information" on efforts to "prevent radicalization" and "disrupt violent extremist networks." And Ingraham tried to spin Psaki's announcement not as an effort to prevent domestic terrorism, but as a crackdown on conservatives in general.
"Republicans need to step up in unison and demand that the Defense Department and the Biden administration clearly define what they think constitutes extremism," Ingraham declared. "Now, if a member of the military voted for Trump, does that make him an extremist? Now, what if someone complains on Facebook that the federal government wastes a lot of money? Is she an extremist? What if they say that Roe v. Wade should be overturned? Or what if they participate in the March for Life?"
Ingraham continued, "What if they're conservative Baptists — they believe that sex outside of marriage is immoral? Is that extremist? What if they have guns at home and they're lifetime NRA members? Will they now be considered extremists or even terrorists? We deserve to know. You see where this is destined to lead. And it is certainly not to a freer and more united America."
By suggesting there's no way to target the threat from violent extremist ideologies like QAnon without targeting other conventional conservatives, Ingraham, too, offered more cover for the conspiracist movement.