In the first full week of his own Fox News prime-time show, host Tucker Carlson failed to mention the post-election revelation that the Russian Foreign Ministry had “contacts” with President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign throughout the 2016 election. Carlson’s silence comes after the Fox host spent the final month of the 2016 presidential campaign denying claims from the United States intelligence community that the Russian government was “trying to influence the outcome of” the presidential election. Now, with his own prime-time show, will Carlson continue to spin for the Russian Federation?
On October 7, during the final month of the 2016 presidential campaign, President Obama and his administration “officially accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the 2016 elections,” according to The Washington Post. But while appearing on Fox News in the ensuing weeks Carlson called the Clinton campaign’s claim that Russia was trying to influence the election “a lie” that might have a “political motivation behind” it. In fact, Carlson made a point of repeatedly and unequivocally insisting that the U.S. intelligence community was pushing “an utterly unsubstantiated claim from the Clinton campaign that” the cyberattacks on American political institutions are “a Russian propaganda effort,” adding that the U.S. intelligence community doesn’t “know that that’s true; they’re just throwing it out there.”
Following the election, “a senior Russian diplomat” confirmed that “Russian government officials conferred with members of Donald Trump’s campaign team” during the campaign, a revelation that Carlson failed to mention in his first week hosting his new prime-time show. Media Matters reviewed transcripts and video of the first week of Carlson's new Fox News program, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and found no substantive mentions of the reports that Russian officials were in contact with Trump’s team before Election Day. Carlson’s only substantive discussion or American-Russian relations during the first week of his show began with Carlson asking Garry Kasparov, an activist who opposes Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Why should human rights abuses within Russia dictate our posture toward Russia?”
Carlson’s personal disinformation campaign regarding Russia’s confirmed role in the presidential election is consistent with his positive characterization of Russia’s actions in Syria. Carlson has praised Putin for “riding to President Obama's rescue” in the Syrian civil war. Moreover, while the State Department and humanitarian monitors note that in many ways Russia is hindering progress in Syria, Carlson has also repeatedly asserted that "Putin is fighting ISIS" in Syria and that "the Assad regime” -- a close ally of Russia’s -- “is also fighting ISIS.” But, as experts note, “Assad's government has done little to counter the rise of IS, instead focusing on its fight against rebel forces.”
Carlson’s admiration of Putin and Russia is not new. In 2011, Carlson tweeted a link to a Daily Caller article about Putin and proclaimed that the “Tiger fighter” and “bad ass” would be “our greatest hope when Aliens finally attack.”
Carlson’s first week at the prime-time helm seemed a perfect opportunity to correct his repeated and false claims -- and certainly to mention the Russian government’s admission that it was in contact with the Trump team throughout the election. It seems that instead, he’ll continue to use his platform on Fox News to spin for an American adversary.