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Right-wing media Nord Stream conspiracy theories echo Russia

Right-wing media figures like Tucker Carlson have pushed speculative conspiracy theories about the Nord Stream pipeline explosions – echoing Russia’s denial of any involvement

Right-wing media are pushing conspiratorial claims about who damaged the Nord Stream pipelines by downplaying Russia’s potential role, blaming the Biden administration and NATO, and claiming it was done to benefit the “globalist elite.”

  • Two pipelines built to carry natural gas between Russia and Germany, Nord Stream 1 and the uncompleted Nord Stream 2, were damaged in what appears to be intentional underwater explosions caused by an act of sabotage in the Baltic Sea. Speculation by various European and U.S. officials regarding who was behind the explosions have pointed to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Politico reports that if the attack was indeed carried out by Russian actors, it could represent “a new warning from Moscow about the continent’s energy supplies heading into winter.” Russian officials have denied any involvement.

    Fox host Tucker Carlson’s commentary on the pipeline explosions has featured most prominently in recent days, suggesting that the explosion was an “escalation” by the American government in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine signals that “we’ve entered a new phase, one in which the United States is directly at war with the largest nuclear power in the world.”

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    Citation From the September 27, 2022, edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight

  • Carlson’s segment received substantial attention from Russian state TV, which is now promoting the theory. It follows a long-standing pattern of Carlson’s pro-Russian, anti-Ukraine commentary, which fits alongside other pro-Russian commentary on Fox News generally.

    Others in the right-wing media were quick to echo Carlson, backing Russian official statements denying its involvement along with unverified accusations that the United States and NATO were behind the attacks.

    Right-wing media suggest the attack could not have come from Russia

    • Right-wing radio host Buck Sexton conveyed similar speculation about Russia’s motives claiming the motive “would seem strange for Russia. … This [pipeline] has always been the leverage that Russia has over Germany.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, 9/28/22]
    • Fox’s Dan Bongino offered evidence that Russia is likely not behind the blasts, stating, “I think it’s highly unlikely. Russia is already flaming gas, burning it off in their own home territory, wasting all of this money. They could just shut the pipeline down. … It doesn’t make sense." The Nord Stream 1 pipeline had already been shut down due to sanctions against Russia. [The Dan Bongino Show, 9/28/22]
    • On OAN, former Trump Defense Department official Douglas Macgregor stated, “We know with absolute certainty that the Russians did not do it.” MacGregor has a history of pushing racism, antisemitism, and pro-Russian talking points. [One America News, Real America with Dan Ball, 9/28/22]
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    Citation From the September 28, 2022, edition of One America News Network's Real America with Dan Ball

    • YouTuber Tim Pool declared, “We will not know who did this. … I will not lean toward it being Russia,” demanding “extraordinary evidence.” Pool also asserted that “Russia has now been attacked, and they have everything to gain from being attacked at a time when they need public support for this war.” [YouTube, 9/27/22]
    • Antisemitic conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson tweeted: “Why would Russia blow up their own pipelines to cripple energy supplies to Germany, when Nord Stream 1 stopped sending gas to Germany last month and Nord Stream 2 wasn't even operational? Genuine question.” [Twitter, 9/27/22]
    • On Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, commentator Glenn Greenwald implied it was unlikely Russia was involved in the explosions: “Why would Russia explode their own pipeline that gives them enormous amounts of leverage?” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 9/28/22]

    Right-wing media speculate that the United States, NATO, and “globalists” are secretly behind the attacks

    • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk suggested on his podcast that the CIA was behind the blasts as part of a “midterm election operation.” He claimed it “doesn't make any sense” to “say that Russia and all of the coming energy shortages is because Russia bombed their own pipeline.” [Real America’s Voice, The Charlie Kirk Show, 9/28/22]
    • Former Trump acting Director of National Intelligence Rick Grenell appeared on Charlie Kirk’s podcast to repeat the Kremlin’s denial of involvement with the explosions and said, “Joe Biden has been clear that he wanted to destroy the pipeline.” [Twitter, 9/28/22]
    • On Steve Bannon’s podcast, conspiracy theorist Darren Beattie claimed, “The Atlanticist establishment, NATO and so forth, would do anything in their power to prevent the natural economic alliance between Germany and Russia.” Beattie also stated, “Of course, U.S. and NATO-aligned organs are saying that somehow the Russians did this without any explanation of why that might be so.” [LindellTV, War Room: Battleground, 9/28/22]
    • OAN host Dan Ball implied the Biden administration was behind the sabotage. Ball’s guest, former Trump DOD official Douglas Macgregor, said: “There’s a lot of discussion that the Poles may have had a role in this … along with U.S. or probably U.K. forces or capabilities. We just don’t know.” He added, “The fact that we probably approved this or had a role in it is very bad”. [One America News, Real America with Dan Ball, 9/28/22]
    • Former BlazeTV host Elijah Schaffer claimed: “You see the U.S. literally destroying the Nord 2 pipeline.” Schaffer also claimed this act will “stoke nuclear warfare” and is a reminder that the U.S. “is a totalitarian nation, and we control the energy policy for an entire continent.” [Slightly Offensive, 9/29/22]
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    Citation From the September 29, 2022, edition of Slightly Offensive

    • Neo-nazi collaborator Jack Posobiec tweeted a quote from Biden that said “If Russia invades then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it,” implying the U.S. was involved. [Twitter, 9/28/22]
    • BlazeTV host Steve Deace stated, “I’m not going to speculate wildly but I will ask this: Who stands to benefit the most from Europe having fewer options to heat their homes this winter?” He then played a clip of Biden speaking in February about stopping the construction of Nord Stream 2 if Russia invaded Ukraine. [Twitter, 9/29/22]
    • On anti-LGBTQ propagandist Allie Beth Stuckey’s BlazeTV podcast, guest Ross Kennedy claimed NATO was possibly worried about Russian control of Europe and “just took matters into their own hands and said we're going to rip the Band-Aid off and this pipeline is going to go and we will figure out what to do next but we have to break the dependence [on Russia] in a very kinetic way.” [BlazeTV, Relatable with Allie Beth Stuckey, 9/28/22]
    • In a YouTube video titled “US Accused of SABOTAGE after NordStream Pipelines RUPTURE, Video Shows Biden Vowing To END Gas Line,” Tim Pool spread conspiracy theories that the U.S. was involved with the sabotage of the pipelines, saying, “In the era of psychological operations and false flag attacks, we have no idea who did this, but online the U.S. is suspected of carrying this out.” [YouTube, 9/27/22]
    • Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones began his Infowars show claiming the “globalist faction” are the most likely to gain from the Nord Stream sabotage because “they need conflict, they need lockdowns.” He also claimed the blasts would “give trillions to the central banks, to themselves.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 9/28/22]
    • Former Newsmax White House correspondent Emerald Robinson repeated the idea that the “globalist elite” are gaining the most from the attacks. She claimed that “the people who would seem to benefit the most are the World Economic Forum, the globalists, the globalist elite who want to move to this green energy and completely change the world economy and energy sector.” [LindellTV, The Absolute Truth with Emerald Robinson, 9/28/22]
    • Fox Nation host Dan Bongino used his podcast to promote the Biden administration’s “potential motivations” for U.S. involvement in the pipeline attack instead of Russia. Bongino asked, “Is the Biden administration crazy enough to do this, to light a spark that might cause World War III? The answer is I wouldn’t be surprised, and I bet neither would you.” He added that “the motivations of the Biden administration and the green agenda, I think, are far greater than the motivations of Russia right now.” [The Dan Bongino Show, 9/28/22]
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    Citation From the September 28, 2022, edition of The Dan Bongino Show