Fox News host Tucker Carlson compares vaccine mandates to ‘Nazi experiments’

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The Fox News host Tucker Carlson has compared coronavirus vaccine mandates imposed by Joe Biden’s government to medical experiments conducted by Nazi Germany and imperial Japan.

Related: Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s glee at general’s Covid diagnosis sparks outrage

“I thought that we had a kind of consensus,” Carlson said on Friday.

“I mean, after watching what the imperial Japanese army and the Nazis did in their medical experiments, I thought that American physicians agreed that compulsory medical care was unethical, it was immoral and it could never be imposed on anyone. When did we forget that?”

Carlson’s guest, the virologist and anti-vaxxer Robert Malone, said: “Apparently about a year ago, I think yesterday” – a reference to Biden’s inauguration on 20 January 2021 – “was when we must have forgotten that, although Mr Biden prior to his election made clear statements that he wasn’t going to force vaccination.”

On 4 December 2020, after his election victory, Biden told reporters: “No, I don’t think [vaccines] should be mandatory. I wouldn’t demand to be mandatory, but I would do everything in my power.”

Carlson is vastly influential, commanding huge audiences in primetime. He has promoted resistance to vaccine mandates and conspiracy theories about the effects of the shots. It is not known if he is vaccinated but Fox News has strict rules for its staff.

Carlson’s exchange with Malone came on the day a judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal employees.

The White House said 98% of such employees had been vaccinated or were seeking a religious or medical exemption and added that it was confident it had the legal authority to impose the mandate in question.

Earlier this month, the supreme court blocked a mandate for large businesses but allowed a requirement for healthcare facilities. A mandate for federal contractors was blocked by a judge in December.

More than 864,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the US. Federal authorities say 75.4% of eligible Americans have had at least one vaccine dose, 63.3% are considered fully vaccinated with two doses, and 39.5% have had a booster shot.

Related: Outrage as Fox News commentator likens Anthony Fauci to Nazi doctor

Carlson’s comparison of mandates to tortures inflicted by totalitarian regimes came not long after a Fox News contributor, Lara Logan, compared Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, to the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.

Fox News has distanced itself from Logan. She has reportedly lost her agent.

On Friday, Malone referred to the process by which Nazi leaders were brought to account, saying: “Thank you for bringing up the Nuremberg trials, Tucker. They are crucial biomedical ethics matter. And this is frankly illegal and I’m so glad that the courts are making it clear.

“It’s unfortunate that so many federal workers and so many members of our military had been forced to take these products while they’re still experimental, against their will.”

Fox News did not immediately return a request for comment.