Tucker Carlson sympathized with Americans facing charges for apparently buying bogus COVID-19 vaccination cards during his nightly Fox News show.
The conservative host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” spent part of his program Thursday criticizing the Manhattan district attorney for charging several people with buying and selling fake proof-of-vaccination cards.
“Making, selling and purchasing forged vaccination cards are serious crimes with serious public safety consequences,” Cyrus Vance Jr., New York County’s top prosecutor, announced this week.
“Buying a fake vaccination card is not a, quote, serious crime. It’s not even close to a serious crime,” Mr. Carlson reacted. “Buying a fake vaccination card is an act of desperation by decent, law-abiding Americans who have been forced into a corner by tyrants.
“You know what’s a serious crime? Forcing Americans to take drugs they don’t need or want. That’s a very serious crime. And let’s hope, in the end, someone is punished for it, severely.”
People vaccinated in the U.S. against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, are issued paper cards bearing the logo of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as proof.
The charges announced by the Manhattan prosecutor’s office Tuesday accuse 15 people of involvement in a conspiracy that resulted in the sale of about 250 bogus CDC vaccination cards.
Prosecutors say one of the defendants advertised the cards over the social media service Instagram and sold them for $200 apiece, including to several hospital and nursing home workers.
For an additional fee of $250, another defendant employed at a New York clinic would input the customer’s name into a state database of vaccination individuals, Mr. Vance’s office said.
Prosecutors also charged 13 people with counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree for purchasing the falsified cards.
Each of the 13 people charged work in public-facing or other essential-employee settings, such as hospitals, medical and nursing schools and nursing homes, Mr. Vance’s office said in a news release.
The FBI and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have previously warned Americans not to buy or sell fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.
“By misrepresenting yourself as vaccinated when entering schools, mass transit, workplaces, gyms or places of worship, you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19,” they stated in March.
Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist with the Federation of American Scientists, slammed Mr. Carlson on Twitter early Friday as video footage containing his comments was shared on social media.
In a widely shared tweet addressed to the FBI, the doctor said Mr. Carlson was engaged in “criminal public endangerment” and that faking proof of vaccination will “get people killed, including kids.”
Federal regulators recently gave their full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, one of three being administered in the U.S. for emergency use. The other two are expected to receive full approval as well.
Several private entities, including some hospitals, universities and employers, have begun requiring proof of vaccination, and public health officials have predicted more vaccine mandates will follow.
Vaccines have proven to be effective in preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19, making them critical tools for combating the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 4.5 million people worldwide.
Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott recently told network employees, including Mr. Carlson, “to upload their vaccination status” into a company database, CNN reported last month.