Americans should take some comfort in knowing that the Kremlin—despite repeatedly intervening in U.S. elections, despite almost a decade of occupying a large chunk of Ukraine, despite having shored up its authoritarian puppet state in Syria and watched Donald Trump betray allies in his haste to get out of the way—is still not infallible. As a new Daily Beast story reveals, Moscow is worried that Fox News propagandist Tucker Carlson has gone too far in loudly, repeatedly voicing his support for Vladimir Putin’s threatened invasion of the rest of Ukraine.
Silly Kremlin. There is no “too far.”
Still, it’s worth looking at what Carlson is saying, what he has said, and how he became an advocate for just letting Russia have what Carlson describes as “a pretty small country” that’s simply of no concern to Americans. “You still have to wonder,” said Carlson, “invasion or not, why is any of this a profound concern of ours? Why would you even consider risking American lives or sending billions of dollars to stop it?” For the record, Ukraine is over 230,000 square miles and has a population of 44 million. That makes it about twice as large, and considerably more populous, than Poland in 1939.
But even as Carlson is busy telling his viewers to ignore the territorial ambitions of an authoritarian dictator, Fox’s most popular host is readying another message—one about how insidious Jews are secretly controlling the world, and only through fighting them can Western civilization be saved.
Carlson’s pro-Russia stance isn’t new. He’s been so consistently pro-Putin that Russian television hosts have welcomed him to their show by calling Carlson “practically our co-host.” But in the last weeks, Carlson has dedicated himself to the task of promoting Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. It’s a call that’s being heard on the right, as Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski made clear when he revealed that his office was getting calls from Carlson viewers “upset that we’re not siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine.”
Russia has already invaded and occupied Ukraine’s most lucrative region. It has funded, equipped, and staffed an ongoing war that has seen the eastern half of Ukraine constantly at war for the better part of a decade. It has undercut the Ukrainian economy. It has funneled money to politicians to sabotage connections between Ukraine and the E.U. or NATO. It has constantly engaged in threats of expanded military intervention.
But somehow, according to Carlson, it’s Ukraine that represents the threat. Vladimir Putin, he says, "just wants to keep his western borders secure." As for offering protection from NATO, Carlson claims that the alliance exists simply “to torment Vladimir Putin.”
That’s the message that Carlson has been selling to his Fox audience. It’s a message that mixes support for Russia with a message of apathy when it comes to what happens to Ukraine and its citizens. And it’s one that he’s been selling since at least 2018. That was when Carlson went on his Fox program to say this about growing tensions between Moscow and Kyiv. “Why do I care what is going on in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia? And I’m serious. Why do I care? Why shouldn’t I root for Russia? Which I am.”
Carlson repeated his rhetorical question earlier this week, saying, “Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?” The answer might be because Ukraine is a long-term ally to which the U.S. has made commitments both militarily and diplomatically, and also that Ukraine is the victim here in a case of international aggression by a belligerent authoritarian ruler.
Returning to his Putin appeasement, Carlson insisted that “Ukraine is strategically irrelevant to the United States” and that “No rational person could defend a war with Russia over Ukraine.” War, says Carlson would be bad for the economy. So America should just mind its own business.
But this startling accurate imitation of appeasement of German expansionism before World War II isn’t Carlson’s only note.
Currently, Carlson is on the road, visiting with another authoritarian leader and open white supremacist, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. Since coming to power, Orbán has overseen a movement that has ceded ever more authority from the government to his ruling Fidesz party. He has used that power to take a brutal stance against immigrants, roll back rights for LGBTQ citizens, place crushing restrictions on the press, and consolidate all the media of the country—over 400 outlets—into a single organization under his direct control.
He’s also used it to engage in repeated acts of anti-Semitism by maintaining that there is a secret Jewish conspiracy to manipulate world governments. At the center of his fictional spider web is Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor, George Soros. Soros has been repeatedly targeted by Orbán and by other members of Fidesz. In particular, Soros is accused of a grand conspiracy that would open European borders to floods of immigrants who would overwhelm the region’s “western Christian identity.”
Speaking in 2018, Orbán made his othering of both Jews and immigrants explicit, in terms that might have been lifted from Mein Kampf. “We are fighting an enemy that is different from us,” said the authoritarian leader, “Not open, but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world."
Naturally, Tucker Carlson has been a big supporter of Orbán on his program and has made past trips to visit what he describes as a “simple, sweet country” that has learned how to deal with this insidious threat. In December, Fox News backed one of these reports by posting a cartoon to social media in which Soros was a hook-nosed puppet-master, pulling the strings of Democratic officials. That cartoon has since been removed after protests by the Anti-Defamation League.
But that doesn’t mean that the sentiment behind the cartoon has been lost, or that Fox will not continue to back Carlson in spreading anti-Semitic slanders even as he encourages Americans to surrender territory in eastern Europe to authoritarian dictators.
That’s because Carlson has just announced that he will follow up his faux-documentary in which he claimed that the Jan. 6 insurgency was an inside job by the FBI with a new one, titled “Hungary vs. Soros: The Fight For Civilization.”
This new work will focus on the “success” Hungary has enjoyed through steps like the “Stop Soros Law” that made it illegal to promote immigration. One that bans either organizations or individuals from providing any form of assistance to undocumented immigrants. Or anyone who promotes immigrant rights. As Vox noted: ”This is so broadly worded that, in theory, the government could arrest someone who provides food to an undocumented migrant on the street or attends a political rally in favor of their rights”
Right now, Fox News host Tucker Carlson is telling Americans should simply look away as one authoritarian dictator conducts a massive grab for territory and resources. And he’s visiting with another authoritarian dictator to explain how western civilization needs to be saved from people “not like us” who are being encouraged by wealthy international Jews.
That’s not history echoing. It’s just a reprint.
Carlson’s desires to @#$@ a cartoon candy mascot, or moaning about the private parts of gingerbread people makes it easy to dismiss him as a clown. But his innate silliness does not make him less dangerous.
Tucker Carlson is a Nazi. There is no other word.