Tucker Carlson, echoing Oregon commissioner, compares vaccine passports to Jim Crow laws

"Medical Jim Crow has come to America": Fox News' biggest star borrows from others for his latest rant

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published June 2, 2021 11:32AM (EDT)

Tucker Carlson complains about vaccine passports (FOX News)
Tucker Carlson complains about vaccine passports (FOX News)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson, a longtime purveyor of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, took his war to the next level and borrowed directly from Republican lawmakers across the country to do so in his Tuesday evening rant, declaring that "Medical Jim Crow has come to America."

The right-wing pundit opened with a comparison of a pre-COVID America to a post-COVID one, arguing that prior to the pandemic, "pretty much everybody agreed that segregation was the worst thing this country ever did."

"That was completely immoral and wrong," he explained. "So imagine our confusion today looking out across the country. The very same people – literally the very same who just the other day said that segregation was immoral – are now enforcing segregation."

Carlson's diatribe comes amid the partial implementation of New York's "vaccine passport" program, dubbed the Excelsior Pass. According to the New York Times, approximately 1.1 million Excelsior passes have been distributed to New York residents as of last week. The passes, which serve as digital proof of vaccination, are required from New Yorkers for entry into certain businesses and venues throughout the state. 

"Want to watch the NBA playoffs in person?" Carlson asked, "You had better be vaccinated to do that. Otherwise, the New York Knicks will bar you from Madison Square Garden. You can still go see a baseball game if you want to, but be warned you will be sitting in your own roped-off section, marinating in your shame with the other disobedient bad people."

"Medical Jim Crow has come to America," the firebrand declared conclusively. "If we still had water fountains, the unvaccinated would have separate ones."


Earlier that day, the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners in Oregon voted to strip commissioner Mark Shull of his liaison duties after the right-wing elected official compared COVID-19 vaccination passports to Jim Crow laws that legalized racial segregation. 


The Twitterverse was predictably quick to pounce on Carlson for his abstruse comparison.

"What's difference between Marjorie Taylor Greene comparing vaccine cards to yellow stars Jews were forced to wear during Holocaust and Tucker Carlson calling vaccine cards 'Medical Jim Crow'?" political satirist Jeremy Newberger tweeted. "Better question, why do racists compare vaccines to the worst racist moments in history?"


The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump GOP political committee, pointed out that Carlson appeared to catch himself before saying that segregation was in fact the "best" thing that happened to the U.S. 


Back in early May, questions arose surrounding Carlson's vaccination status, given his vast influence over a demographic which has demonstrated significant vacation hesitancy. Carlson still has yet to publicly reveal whether he has been vaccinated. 

In the past, Carlson has repeatedly bandied false claims about the dangers of getting immunized. Earlier this month, Carlson baselessly attributed thousands of American deaths to the Covid vaccine by citing numbers sourced from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). However, the VAERS database simply records medical phenomena after patients receive the vaccine; it doesn't not attempt to draw any connection two. 

Despite citing it in the same breath, Carlson also blamed any inaccuracies in VAERS on the Biden administration, though the database preceded Biden's presidency.

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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Carlson Clip Fox News Jim Crow Medical Tucker Vaccine Passports