How Russia Is Using Tucker Carlson in its Propaganda

Clips of Fox News' Tucker Carlson have become a regular feature of Russian state TV, which portrays the television host as being pro-Russia and able to influence America's opinion of the war in Ukraine.

Carlson, a high-profile conservative commentator, is painted as America's voice of reason for questioning negative American attitudes to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the policies of the Biden administration, which has strongly opposed Russia's invasion of Ukraine and imposed sanctions on Russia.

"Carlson has the most popular cable TV show in the US and his opinions influence how Americans vote," RT wrote in an article on February 23. RT is a Russian state controlled international network.

Last month, RT aired a Carlson monologue in which he questioned why Americans should dislike Putin.

Although state-controlled polls FOM and WCIOM show a clear majority of Russians support the war in Ukraine, support is far from universal and protests against it have been suppressed.

Half of respondents aged 18 to 44 gave a negative assessment of the invasion, according to a poll conducted by Russian Field.

Carlson, along with frequent guest retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor, has been featured multiple times on Kremlin TV.

"Democrats in Washington have told you you have a patriotic duty to hate Vladimir Putin," Carlson said during his monologue. "Anything less than hatred of Putin is treason...hating Putin has become the central purpose of America's foreign policy."

Responding to Carlson's comment RT said: "There are no actual reasons for Americans to hate Putin, even if the left-wing media tells them that."

Newsweek reached out to Fox News for comment on the way that clips of Carlson were being used by Russian state television.

Ukrainian diplomat Olexander Scherba was critical on Friday evening in comments on MeidasTouch, which describes itself as aiming to protect American democracy and defeat Trumpism.

"They've been broadcasting Russian talking points, lies and disinformation," the interviewer said. "What would you say to them and the companies that allow them to broadcast their messages?"

"Shame on you," Scherba said. "Shame on you Tucker Carlson. I mean, when you say, 'Why should we support Ukraine and not Russia,' just—what's wrong with your moral compass? What's wrong with your soul?"

"There is something seriously wrong with this guy," Scherba continued. "There is something seriously wrong with Fox News if they give him the air [time]."

RT cited television channel MSNBC as an indication of Carlson's influence: "Earlier this week, pro-Democratic Party channel MSNBC ran a segment that lamented Carlson's impact on US foreign policy through his ability to whip up isolationist sentiments in the voter base – 'the way he can change the tide for otherwise-fascistic leaders,' as host Alex Wagner put it, referring to Putin and to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban."

A reporter for The Daily Beast described Russian TV as playing clips of Carlson "to lighten the mood in the studio".

Fox Carlson
Russian state TV has repeatedly aired clips of Fox News host Tucker Carlson to push their narrative painting Russia's military as liberators for the people of Ukraine. Getty Images

In a translated video RT aired on Wednesday, Carlson's guest Macgregor predicted Russia's victory over Ukraine, the news site said.

The host, Vladimir Soloviev, responded to the clip saying, "He's a lot more optimistic than my previous experts in the studio."

Update 03/12/22, 9.33 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with further information.

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