In the months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Russian-controlled media have consistently praised and amplified Fox News host Tucker Carlson as a major anti-Ukraine voice in American media.
For years, Carlson has promoted pro-Kremlin, anti-Ukraine rhetoric on his show, and his position has only intensified since the start of the war. Carlson’s criticism widely blames President Joe Biden for the crisis, accusing him of intentionally aggravating Russian President Vladimir Putin to somehow avenge the 2016 election.
Most recently, Carlson engaged his prime-time audience in a conspiracy theory that the United States sabotaged the Nord Stream pipeline. This kicked off the Carlson-Kremlin feedback loop: a recent report in The Washington Post found that Russian state television aired his commentary about the pipeline at least a dozen times across multiple channels. The Russian government’s overall support for Carlson was confirmed in a March 3 memo revealing that Russian state media outlets follow explicit instructions to amplify Carlson; as such, they regularly air clips and praise him as a voice of pro-Kremlin reason in American news.
Since before the invasion in February, Russian media analyst and Daily Beast columnist Julia Davis has monitored Russian state media outlets, including documenting when they mention or show a clip from Carlson’s show. So far, Davis has noted over 50 instances of Russian state media either showing clips of or referring to Tucker Carlson and other Fox personalities in order to bolster support for Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. Media Matters also reviewed the work of Francis Scarr, a BBC Russian media analyst.
Below are some examples of Russian state media amplifying and celebrating Carlson’s views:
In March, Davis documented how Russian state media used a Carlson segment with Arizona senate candidate Blake Masters to argue that “disinformation and propaganda is coming out of the White House and not out of Russia.”
Davis tweeted a clip of Carlson and former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard featured in Russia state media, noting: “After the clip plays, one panelist asks: ‘Is she some sort of a Russian agent?’ The host quickly replies: ‘Yes.’”
Also in March, Davis documented the host of Russia’s 60 Minutes saying Carlson’s views have recently been “in tune with our own.”
Scarr documented a Russian state TV host promoting Carlson’s “special programme” on “American biolabs” in Ukraine.
By April, apparently “disheartened by Russia's mounting failures in its war against Ukraine,” pundits played a clip of Tucker Carlson Tonight guest Nigel Farage claiming “that Putin's invasion is NATO's fault,” according to Davis.
According to Davis, a Russian state media pundit showed a clip of Carlson’s segment on the United States’ wealth disparity in which he claimed, via onscreen text, that “‘Putin’s price hike’ is a lie,” with the pundit commenting after that “he’s a good guy,” and “it’s amazing that he’s still free and working,”:
Russian state media replayed Carlson “mocking President Biden's stutter and arguing that the 25th Amendment should be triggered,” tweeted Davis.
Russian state media played Carlson alleging that sending aid to Ukraine is an effort from Democrats to provoke Russia into a war as payback for the 2016 election, airing it “not once, but twice in their evening broadcast” of Russia’s version of 60 Minutes, according to Davis.
In May, one outlet showed Carlson calling Biden “demented and dangerous,”
One outlet replayed Carlson insulting White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre a day after their own hosts traded racist, sexist, and homophobic comments about her.
Davis explained that Russian state TV pundits were “encouraged by” Tucker Carlson’s anti-Ukraine, anti-Biden takes, with one pundit saying, “Let me show you how Biden is being kicked around by Tucker Carlson of Fox News,” before showing a clip of Carlson blaming the Biden administration for travel delays.
In August coverage of American politics, Russian state TV replayed Carlson criticizing the U.S. for sending aid to Ukraine:
After describing Carlson as “the most popular TV host in the U.S.,” they played a clip in which he “bashed Biden for sending additional aid to Ukraine and urged his audience to vote against any lawmakers who supported it,” according to Davis.
Russian state media hosts used clips from Carlson to promote the idea that Ukraine aid is widely unpopular in the United States and push the theory that Biden provoked the war just as Russia and Ukraine were heading toward peace talks “to avenge the election of Donald Trump.” Yet they also called Carlson’s coverage “somewhat primitive.”
Last month, as right-wing media accused the United States of sabotaging the Nord Stream pipeline, Davis reported that “every state TV program is feasting on Tucker Carlson's accusations that the Biden administration is somehow involved in causing the Nord Stream damage.” When Gabbard appeared on Carlson’s show to discuss Nord Stream, one pundit noted that “Gabbard ALWAYS blames Biden.”
Russian-controlled print media is just as supportive of Carlson. RT, a state-controlled international news network, has promoted Carlson repeatedly, often citing him as an influential anti-Ukraine voice in American media. Sputnik, another Russian state-controlled news agency, has done the same, publishing multiple stories since the invasion began promoting Carlson and his often-conspiratorial anti-Ukraine arguments.