Fox News Stays Silent as Putin Turns Tucker Carlson Into Propaganda Pawn

Fox News has remained mum as Kremlin-backed state media used clips of the network's host Tucker Carlson defending Russian President Vladimir Putin amid his invasion of Ukraine.

As Carlson faced scrutiny for his comments about Putin in the United States, several clips from his show have been used in Russian news, and an apparent new memo alleges the Russian government has requested media, including RT, to play his clip.

One clip played on RT showed Carlson' defense of Putin, where he rhetorically asked: "Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic?"

Another featured a conversation between Carlson and retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor, who predicted Russia would "annihilate" Ukrainian troops if they did not surrender.

On Sunday, progressive news outlet Mother Jones reported on a memo alleging the Kremlin sent talking points to Russian media organizations requesting they use "as much" footage of Carlson "as possible," noting his criticisms of the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Carlson was the only Western journalist reportedly named in the memo.

He did tone down his rhetoric after the invasion last month, conceding that "Vladimir Putin started this war. So whatever the context of the decision that he made, he did it, he fired the first shots, he is to blame for what we're seeing tonight in Ukraine."

However, he later continued to blame NATO and President Joe Biden for the war on Ukraine.

His defenses of Putin have received widespread condemnation, including from fellow Republicans. GOP Representative Liz Cheney criticized him for "praising Putin," while a spokesperson for Newsmax—the pro-Trump news network rivaling Fox—wrote the network "strongly criticized Fox News' top host Tucker Carlson for supporting Putin and Russia's invasion of the Ukraine."

But as criticisms continue to roll in, Fox News has remained quiet about his remarks. The network has not issued an official statement about the use of his show in Russian propaganda, and Newsweek reached out to five different Fox News spokespeople who did not respond in time for publication.

Carlson has faced a number of controversies in the past, with Fox News often coming to his defense.

When Carlson was sued for defamation against Karen McDougal, the channel said his show serves as "opinion commentary" and is "not reasonably understood as being factual" in court.

After a man confronted Carlson at a Montana fishing ship, calling him "the worst human being" last year, the network issued a statement in his defense, writing: "Ambushing Tucker Carlson while he is in a store with his family is totally inexcusable—no public figure should be accosted regardless of their political persuasion or beliefs simply due to the intolerance of another point of view."

The Anti-Defamation League called on the company to fire Carlson over comments about the "great replacement" theory. But Chief Executive Lachlan Murdoch defended Carlson, writing in a letter to the ADL: "A full review of the guest interview indicates that Mr. Carlson decried and rejected replacement theory. As Mr. Carlson himself stated during the guest interview: 'White replacement theory? No, no, this is a voting rights question.'"

He also defended Carlson's remarks about the COVID-19 vaccination, which experts have assailed as misinformation.

"He basically just went into the CDC data, right?" Murdoch told Insider. "So there's nothing the CDC itself isn't saying."

But the network has also remained quiet on other controversies, including criticism of Carlson's special Patriot Purge, which suggested the January 6 riot was a "false flag" even as two commentators left over the series—accusing the network of amplifying "false claims and bizarre narratives."

Some at the network have publicly pushed back on Carlson's claims about the war on Ukraine.

The network's national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin dismissed his claims that Biden is responsible for the invasion, saying: "How we got to this point is a long story, and it predates the Biden administration. It includes mistakes made by every U.S. president since the Soviet Union fell apart."

Fox silent on Tucker Carlson Russia clips
Fox News has remained quiet as Russian state media played clips of host Tucker Carlson, pictured above in March 2019, defending Russian President Vladimir Putin. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts