Fox News host Tucker Carlson has said many controversial things in the past but his recent commentary on masks raised eyebrows and accusations that his views were dangerous. On April 26, 2021, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he criticized mask mandates by making a number of outlandish claims on his show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
One such claim was that making children wear masks outside counts as “child abuse.” In his tirade, Carlson said:
As for forcing children to wear masks outside, that should be illegal. Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart. Call the police immediately, contact child protective services. Keep calling until someone arrives. What you’re looking at is abuse, it’s child abuse and you are morally obligated to attempt to prevent it.
If it’s your own children being abused, then act accordingly. Let’s say your kids school emailed you and announced that every day after lunch, your sixth-grader was going to get punched in the face by a teacher. How would you respond to that? That’s precisely how you should respond when they tell you that your kids have to wear masks on the soccer field. That is unacceptable, it is dangerous, and we should act like it because it is. But too few of us have responded like that, we have been shamefully passive in the face of all of this.
He also called mask-wearers liberal "zealots" and "neurotics.” You can see a clip from his show here:
Carlson added that seeing a vaccinated person wearing a mask in public was like seeing a grown man “expose himself in public.” “That’s disgusting, put it away please, we don’t do that here,” he said.
Carlson also told his viewers to approach people who were wearing masks outside and tell them, “Your mask is making me uncomfortable.”
On April 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance saying fully vaccinated people could take their masks off at small outdoor gatherings or when dining outside with friends from multiple households, "except in certain crowded settings and venues." Unvaccinated people should still wear masks at such gatherings. Vaccinated people should still take all precautions in indoor settings, including masking. The latest guidelines are available here.
The messaging on Fox News is decidedly mixed: the channel has been airing public safety messages telling people to mask up. But Carlson has changed his tune since back in March 2020 when he said, “Of course masks work.”
Given that Carlson expressed these views on an episode of his show, which is still available to view, we rate this claim as “True.”