Believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory reacted with anger and dismay on Thursday after Fox News personality Tucker Carlson appeared to criticize one of the lawyers challenging the 2020 election results on behalf of the Trump campaign.
Carlson told his prime time audience that former prosecutor Sidney Powell had not provided any evidence that votes had been changed by electronic voting machines, as she argued at a press conference earlier that day. The Associated Press called Powell’s claims “fictional tales.”
The Fox News host, whose show is one of the most highly rated in cable news, said he had reached out to Powell to hear her case but that she wasn’t willing to co-operate.
Carlson’s opening monologue was also published as an op-ed on the Fox News website. In it, Carlson took swipes at the media but ultimately raised questions about Powell.
“We’ve always respected her work, we simply wanted to see the details. How could you not want to see them? So we invited Sidney Powell on the show. We would have given her the whole hour. We would have given her the entire week, actually, and listened quietly the whole time at rapt attention,” he said.
“But she never sent us any evidence, despite a lot of polite requests. When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her.
“When we checked with others around the Trump campaign, people in positions of authority, they also told us Powell had never given them any evidence to prove anything she claimed today at the press conference.”
“Powell did say that electronic voting is dangerous, and she’s right, but she never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately by software from one candidate to another. Not one,” Carlson went on.
On social media, some people who believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory were angered and shocked by Carlson’s remarks. The conspiracy that falsely alleges that President Donald Trump is fighting an international cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, which includes Democrats and billionaires.
“QAnon supporters are furious about that Tucker Carlson segment in which he said Sidney Powell had not provided any evidence to his show about electronic voting fraud,” noted Shayan Sardarizadeh, a journalist covering online disinformation and conspiracy theories for the BBC.
He shared some screenshots of the reaction from QAnon-supporting twitter accounts showing anger at Fox News and suggestions that Carlson himself had been compromised in some way.
Criticism was not confined to known QAnon believers.
Steve Schmidt, a conservative critic of Trump, highlighted the reaction to a clip of the segment posted on Twitter by the Daily Caller. In responses to the video, some accounts rejected Carlson’s call for evidence and expressed frustration with Fox News.
Some responses showed support for alternative, Trump-backed news sources such as Newsmax and OANN.
The Trump campaign has taken various lawsuits in key states challenging the election results but they’ve so far proven largely unsuccessful. The president has also advanced unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.