For many months, translated clips of Fox News host Tucker Carlson have been making the rounds on Russian state television, delighting hosts, pundits and experts with their pro-Russian slant. Some of the top propagandists even worried out loud that Carlson’s apparent pro-Kremlin bias might result in him being “marginalized” or silenced.
Behind the scenes, Carlson reportedly courted Kremlin intermediaries in his plight to secure an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. What might have been considered an extended audition could soon pay off—Putin’s mouthpieces in high places are now openly pushing for an interview with the controversial host. Appearing on the state TV show The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev on Wednesday, RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan practically begged anyone who can make it happen to go ahead and grant Carlson’s long-standing wish.
The show aired a translated clip of Tucker Carlson Tonight from the night before, where Carlson’s guest, retired Army Col. Doug Macgregor, argued that Russia’s intent to subjugate Ukraine should be taken seriously and even respected. Macgregor contended that “Russia has legitimate national security interests in Ukraine” and said that “Russia is about to demonstrate that we are powerless in Eastern Europe to stop them.” Macgregor asserted: “And I do not see any evidence for this overwhelming support around the world for sanctions against Russia over something that most people rightly regard as a matter of national security interest to Russia.” Carlson nodded approvingly.
After viewing the video, the head of RT praised Carlson in a way no other American television host is being lauded on Kremlin-funded TV. Delivering her pitch to Putin in the style of former President Trump’s notorious “Russia, if you’re listening,” Simonyan gushed to Soloviev: “You showed the clip of wonderful Tucker Carlson, who—by the way—is dreaming of interviewing Vladimir Putin, simply dreaming about it! It’s not within my purview, but if anyone could make it happen, it would be amazing. He is the most popular host in the United States and perhaps the only one who is reasonable, has the biggest audience, who understands everything the way it should be understood.” Soloviev and guests in the studio nodded approvingly.
Showing her dedication as a viewer, Simonyan brought up another episode of Carlson’s show: “Several days ago on his show he had the remarkable Tulsi Gabbard… I want to briefly retell what she said, because it felt like she was standing here in the studio in my place and said it all right here. I endorse her every word. She said the following: ‘Mr. Biden, why won’t you tell the Russians that Ukraine will never join NATO? That’s what they’re asking for. Additionally, with high level of probability, it will never be able to join anyway, for various reasons. You understand that it’s their [Russia’s] legitimate interest that [Ukraine] does not join, but you’re not doing that.”
Re-stating Gabbard’s words, apparently without realizing the irony of describing exactly what was going on in Putin’s Russia, Simonyan continued: “You’re telling us that you’re defending democracy. Mr. Biden, what kind of democracy is it when they are closing down one television channel after another and imprisoning their political opponents, because they can’t hold on to power in any other way?” Simonyan continued to reenact Gabbard’s speech, blaming the military-industrial complex and the media for allegedly encouraging war and profiting from the situation. She went on to spin a tall tale, claiming that all information published by the Western mainstream media is being disseminated based on directives received by drunken and incoherent reporters directly from the intelligence agencies.
The same day, RT published an op-ed, praising Tucker Carlson, Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein for their “anti-war” stance, because of their opposition to Ukraine being able to join NATO.
Dmitry Kulikov—a member of the Zinoviev Club, instituted by the Kremlin-controlled media giant Russia Today—said that the growing friction between Russia and the United States should be treated as an ongoing info-war. He praised Simonyan for “brilliantly describing the arrangements between the media and intelligence agencies” and claimed that Tucker Carlson is one of the very few journalists exempt from such dealings.
In this ongoing “info-war,” Carlson’s show and the Russian state television somehow ended up in perfect alignment on multiple contentious topics, not limited to Ukraine and Russia. During his show on Wednesday night, Soloviev urged Americans to pay attention to Canadian truck drivers protesting coronavirus vaccine mandates—instead of focusing on imprisoned opposition activist Alexei Navalny. Tucker Carlson Tonight and Fox News in general have been providing ample coverage of the topic—second only to RT, according to the stats by Real Clear Politics which Simonyan posted on her Twitter page.
Appearing on Soloviev’s show on Tuesday, political scientist and Professor of Communications Dmitry Evstafiev cautioned that in Russia’s dealings with the West, time is of the essence. Evstafiev named the midterm elections in the United States as the main reference point, with control of both chambers of Congress and 34 of the 100 seats in the Senate on the line in 2022. Russian experts have high hopes for the GOP changing its stance on Russia as a result of the potential split in the Republican party and a pro-Russian shift in the conservative media—spurred by none other than Tucker Carlson. In exchange for Carlson’s useful contributions to their cause, Russian propagandists seem to be willing to reward him with a highly coveted Putin interview.