Mother Jones says it has a copy of a Russian government document sent to the nation's media outlets earlier this month, one sent on to the magazine by "a contributor to a national Russian media outlet who asked not to be identified." The memo itself seems to be a fairly rote document, by Russian standards, and consists of 12 pages of preferred talking points "recommended" for broadcast by government-friendly hosts and commenters. It was allegedly produced by the Department of Information and Telecommunications support, part of the swamp of agencies tasked with keeping the kleptocracy humming while monitoring the rest of Russia for badspeak against Vladimir Putin and the other oligarchs bleeding the country (and military) dry.
The part of the memo that stands out, however, is the Putin government's urging that state-friendly media feature broadcast clips from Fox News talking head Tucker Carlson "as much as possible." As quoted by Mother Jones:
"It is essential to use as much as possible fragments of broadcasts of the popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who sharply criticizes the actions of the United States [and] NATO, their negative role in unleashing the conflict in Ukraine, [and] the defiantly provocative behavior from the leadership of the Western countries and NATO towards the Russian Federation and towards President Putin, personally."
It appears Carlson has some high-profile fans in the Kremlin, and that's hardly a surprise. Carlson, who has continually pushed far-right, white nationalist, autocratic, and fascist themes and guests in front of his conservative viewers has been one of the conservative hosts most reluctant to backtrack from his previous praise for both Putin and Russia's violence-reliant nationalism. Carlson has even traveled to Europe to highlight authoritarian and protofascist leaders there as examples for U.S. conservatives to follow; while some other Republicans may have voiced past support for Putin's government largely so as to not fall out of favor with Donald Trump, who has expressed admiration for multiple of the world's most murderous strongmen, Carlson's Russia support has been more expressly premised on his show's own nationalist advocacy.
Tucker has been the Fox Host most willing to sneer at the premise of democracy as means of governance, and the host most willing to boost far-right nationalist movements dedicated to doing away with it.
For a brief period—as in, all of a day or so—there was a chance that the Russian government embrace of Carlson would backfire. Carlson attempted to distance himself from past praise for Putin and past attacks on the Ukrainian government, attacks premised of course on whatever ramblings Rudy Giuliani and other oligarch-linked conservative propagandists piped up with during years of paid and unpaid work on behalf of those that sought to topple it.
Whether Tucker's tepid reversals came from Fox News nervousness at hosting explicitly authoritarian propaganda is unknown, but Carlson couldn't make it stick. He reverted nearly immediately back into anti-Ukraine, pro-Putin conspiracy theories dredged up from the very bottom of the internet, devoting multiple segments to a truly asinine claim of sinister Ukrainian "biolabs" first put forward by QAnon conspiracy theorists before opportunistically being elevated by Carlson, other Putin apologists, and finally absorbed into Russian talking points themselves.
The claim is so devoid of facts and rationality that there is little chance Carlson does not know that they are faked. Nonetheless, he has now altered his show's coverage to focus repeatedly on the propaganda—delivering yet another much-needed boon to Russian television hosts struggling to maintain credibility themselves:
The Putin government has a new top ally in the United States, and is confident enough to be promoting him to state-aligned media outlets as an "essential" part of its own coverage. The position was once held by Donald Trump, the first president to ever be kicked off social networks for promoting blatantly false conspiracy theories. It is now held by Fox News' Tucker Carlson—and by each of the Murdoch-backed executives still willing to boost violent authoritarianism and hoax claims, if that is what the extremists of the base want to watch and hear.
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