Tucker Carlson is on Russia's side
A Democratic lawmaker says Carlson fans are "upset" he's not pro-Putin too.
Over the past week, Tucker Carlson has devoted numerous segments of his show to making excuses for the Putin regime as it threatens another, more thorough invasion of Ukraine. His propaganda is apparently winning hearts and minds to the cause.
On Monday, Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-New Jersey) tweeted that his office is hearing from Tucker viewers who want the Biden administration to reverse course and side with a country that, for no good reason, is poised to invade its neighbor for the second time in decade — a move that could destabilize Europe, if not trigger a broader armed conflict.
“My office is now getting calls from folks who say they watch Tucker Carlson and are upset that we’re not siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine, and who want me to support Russia’s ‘reasonable’ positions,” Malinowski tweeted.
Carlson’s excuse-making for Putin basically boils down to the idea that Putin is right to perceive Ukraine’s interest in joining NATO as a threat. On January 18, Carlson tried to make this point with a thought experiment, asking his viewers to “imagine if Mexico fell under the direct military control of China. We would see that as a threat.”
“Well that’s how Russia views NATO control of Ukraine, and why wouldn’t they?” he added.
This, to be clear, is not actually a reasonable position. For one, there’s no realistic chance that Ukraine actually joins NATO anytime soon. And second, even if it did, the idea it would represent a grave, direct threat to Russia is farfetched. A recent New York Times report nodded to this reality, citing “current and former American and European officials” who say Putin “might just be raising the NATO issue as a pretext for an invasion.” (Carlson hasn’t talked about this, but perhaps even more pertinent is the fact Putin has never tried to conceal that he views Ukraine as a Russian colony, reportedly saying in 2008 that “Ukraine is not even a state!”)
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In short, the arguments Carlson is marshaling on Putin’s behalf aren’t persuasive. So what really explains the top-rated US cable news host carrying water for a Russian strongman? Ja’han Jones connected some of the dots in an MSNBC column examining the fondness Trump supporters feel for Putin.
In essence, many white nationalists and American conservatives feel a kinship with Russia that largely stems from a shared opposition to multiracial democracy. We can take their words and actions as proof.
Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke once called Russia, a majority white, Slavic country that frequently opposes the increasingly diverse European Union, the “key to white survival.” White supremacist leader Richard Spencer hailed Russia as the “sole white power in the world” in 2016. Republican approval of Putin grew stronger after Russia was seen by many as having helped Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election (in part by targeting Black voters with propaganda, I should add). And several American white nationalists have reportedly attended multiple events sanctioned by Russian extremist groups.
It wasn’t long ago that the American right professed to stand for democracy at home and abroad. But during an interview with Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) in November, Carlson let the mask slip, admitting he was “confused” about why the US would support Ukraine instead of Russia. When Turner responded by pointing out that the US is supposed to be side with democracies like Ukraine against authoritarian governments like the Putin regime, all Carlson could muster was “I guess.”
Carlson made similar comments during his show on Monday night.
This has been Carlson’s line for a long while. Back in November 2019 — just before then-President Trump was impeached for trying to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in US military aide to Ukraine to get the new government there to investigate the Biden family — Carlson said, “Why do I care what is going on in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia? And I’m serious. Why do I care? Why shouldn’t I root for Russia? Which I am.”
In addition to winning his own supporters over to the cause, Carlson’s pro-Putin talking points are also getting a lot of positive play on Russian TV.
So in the event that Russia does go forward with a re-invasion of Ukraine, prepare for the spectacle of a major US political host openly rooting against US interests and for an aggressor authoritarian nation that’s trying to crush a democratic neighbor. In fact, given Carlson’s fondness for Russia and loathing of Biden, one can’t help but wonder what his line would be in the unlikely but not impossible scenario where US troops got involved in a conflict in Ukraine.
Biden calls Peter Doocy “a stupid son of a bitch”
President Biden has had it with Fox News. In the past week, he’s put two different staffers of theirs on blast.
The latest and most memorable instance came on Monday, when Biden responded to an inane question from Peter Doocy by saying, “what a stupid son of a bitch.”
It’s not clear if Biden knew the microphone in front of his face was on when he said those words. The incident came just a few days after a similar one in which he responded to a question from Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich by saying “what a stupid question” loud enough for his comment picked up by microphones.
As you’d expect, a number of prominent right-wingers responded to Biden cussing out Doocy by clutching their pearls.
And I can certainly understand the argument that presidents should be better than Trump was and never insult members of the press — even Fox News propagandists.
But there’s a sense in which Biden isn’t wrong. Doocy’s job is to ask stupid questions that produce soundbites his employer can use to diminish Biden. In fact, just hours before Biden called him an SOB, Doocy pressed Press Secretary Jen Psaki with a string of bad faith queries that culminated with Psaki subtly criticizing him for being irresponsible.
Doocy goes way back with Biden — he covered him during the Democratic primary — and so it wasn’t hugely surprising to learn that the president called Doocy later Monday and told him, “it’s nothing personal, pal.”
And while I’m reluctant to give propagandists like Doocy credit for much, he did handle the whole thing in a good natured way, smiling his way through numerous Fox News hits about it on Monday evening and Tuesday morning. And why wouldn’t he? Triggering the lib-in-chief, after all, is what Fox News is all about.