Tucker Carlson Fell for the Lie

In Soviet times, very few people believed state propaganda. Many laughed at it.
Unfortunately, Russian propaganda is more sophisticated. It runs deep and goes far. It’s taken hold within the Republican Party in the United States, at the top levels, where Putin fetishists regurgitate Russian talking points.
Putin, having invested heavily in the dark arts, awaited his stooge. With Tucker Carlson, he got just that.
Tucker Carlson’s Putin interview wasn’t journalism. It was sycophancy.
Carlson offered Putin an opportunity to talk unchallenged—a propaganda opportunity on a silver platter. A journalist would have asked tough questions, and would have pushed back—but Tucker isn’t interested in real journalism. Only in the veneer thereof.
Putin said during the interview that Russia has no interest in invading former Soviet satellites that are now members of the EU and NATO. He also denied any intention of invading Ukraine in 2022.
He claimed Poland, which was invaded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939, “collaborated with Hitler”. Putin asserted that by refusing to give over an area of Poland called the Danzig Corridor to Hitler, Poland “went too far, pushing Hitler to start World War II.”
To which Carlson replied, “of course.”
Putin wrote a long essay before the war that denied Ukraine’s existence as a sovereign state. He now appears to have learned it by heart. (Here, Israel and Ukraine have something in common—the denial of a right to exist).
He continued that America should focus on its domestic issues—somewhat amusing, coming from a leader who has invaded Ukraine and Georgia. And deployed his military to Syria, Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Burkina Faso, to name a few.
Putin is known to be organized and prepared—the antithesis of Trump. Putin understands that there has long been a short-sighted, isolationist pull in American politics. He knows that such a strategy is misguided and disastrous. He’s betting that the American voter isn’t as astute. He may be right.
What struck me most was Tucker’s fawning trip to a Russian supermarket. He noted that food prices in Russia are lower than in the United States. What he doesn’t mention is that the average per capita income in Russia is about $16,000 per year; in the United States, it’s $76,000. Things cost more in rich countries.
By that standard, Tucker should afford great admiration to the government of Mexico; prices are low. Pakistani groceries cost even less. And Tucker should then abhor Israel—no less, Norway—where food prices are astronomical.
By the way, Lithuania has even nicer supermarkets. Tucker would be well-served to visit.
Tucker Carlson claims that Russia doesn’t suffer from rampant inflation. Really? The inflation rate in Russia is 7%, using the Russian government’s own statistics. And interest rate in Russia is 16%—about 3X that of the United States.
Tucker praised Moscow for its architecture. He’s not wrong—but outside of a relatively small city center, Moscow is defined by drab, Soviet housing blocks.
Tucker notes that the subway in Moscow is grandiose. It’s true—particularly when compared to the West 4th Street subway station in downtown Manhattan. The subway in New York needs some work, no doubt about that. (Although the subway in New York does run 24 hours per day, whereas Moscow’s does not). In any event, what Tucker forgets is that the Moscow subway was built by Stalin, at enormous cost, to showcase the superiority of Communism. The Pyongyang subway is known to be quite efficient and clean, too.
Putin has fashioned a repressive Russia one step removed from North Korea–a dictatorship of terror. But at least, in Tucker’s view, the subway runs on time.
Tucker waxes poetic for the America that he says needs to be restored—the America in which he came of age. But he was born in 1969. The 1970s was a nadir for American urban centers. Crime in the American cities has decreased substantially—exponentially—since those days when New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Carlson sought to build his independent media brand since he was dismissed from Fox News. Putin wanted to address a Western audience via a friendly interviewer. Carlson’s interests were served. So were Putin’s.
As for the truth, not so much.
Note that Carlson was sued for defamation—and he won. Carlson’s lawyers successfully argued that any reasonable person would deduce that his rhetoric is not necessarily factual.
According to Judge Vyskocil, “Fox persuasively argues . . . that given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer arrives with an appropriate amount of skepticism about the statements he makes.”
I recall Tucker’s early days on CNN. Back then, he was a George W. Bush-loving neoconservative advocating for the invasion of Iraq. Today, he’s an America First isolationist positioning himself as the leader of a populist revolution.
Tucker is, in fact, a silver-spooned, faux-populist pretending he climbed his way from a coal mine and onto a TV screen, calloused hand by calloused hand. By contrast, he’s the scion of a TV dinner fortune. He was born into every advantage possible. He’s never had to work for a living.
Where would Tucker have been in 1944, as the First US Army descended on Normandy? Would he be in Munich or Berlin, praising the clean streets and efficient trains?
Carlson is, in the end, a useful idiot—if not an asset of Kremlin, certainly an asset to it.
Putin has always had his western stooges. What is worrying is Tucker’s audience in the United States. Typically, in a healthy democracy, the truth exposes the lie. The truth, at long last, can defeat the lie. But the United States is not a healthy democracy.
The killing of Alexei Navalny and Tucker Carlson’s visit to Moscow provides a stark juxtaposition: the Russian patriot, and the American idiot.
Most Russians have gone along quietly with their country’s slide into authoritarian rule, but Navalny always fought against it.
“To live is to risk it all,” Navalny said. “Otherwise, you are just an inert chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting wherever the universe blows you.”
As one journalist put it, Navalny died for the truth; Carlson fell for the lie.
I saw a photograph of a Ukrainian soldier with two patches on his uniform: a Ukrainian flag, and an American one. It is a harsh reminder that, to many, the United States still represents their hopes for a freer, better future. It is a reminder of America’s responsibility.
Perhaps this soldier afforded the United States a degree of faith that it didn’t deserve.
The immense shame is that Russia has more reliable allies than does Ukraine. North Korea and Iran are dutifully supplying military equipment to Russia. But the United States is wavering on its commitments–largely because some politicians within the GOP choose fidelity to Trump over upholding America’s responsibility and values.
I think about the Ukrainian soldier wearing an American flag on his uniform. Are we serving those who seek freedom? Are we living up to our values or are we merely paying lip service to them?
About the Author
Daniel Dolgicer is a native of New York City, and an alumnus of Cardozo School of Law and Reichman University. He's had a lifelong connection with Israel and Zionism and commentates mainly on American and Israeli politics. He lives between New York and Tel Aviv. He once won $100 for knowing the capital of New Zealand.
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