Tucker Carlson: Putin’s Patsy

In the week when Donald Trump says he would would encourage Russia to attack allies who pay too little for defence spending, Tucker Carlson visits Moscow for an interview with Vladimir Putin. Carlson is a man for whom the phrase ‘useful idiot’ was coined, but his interview is the media sensation of the week.

Carlson is a far-right MAGA tv presenter, he is not, in any sense a journalist. The Dominion lawsuit essentially confirmed this. The case, you’ll remember cost Fox $800 million in their dispute with to Dominion Voting Systems – the largest publicly known defamation settlement in history. The Fox v Dominion case was over the fact that Fox continued to spread lies about the Trump electoral loss despite knowing otherwise. Carlson was at the heart of this and is a propagandist for the far-right.

Carlson’s two-hour long interview was predictably embarrassing as Tucker, in blazer and striped tie looked-on as President Putin took charge. Putin delivered a lengthy lecture on the history of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and its aftermath, through which he meant to convince viewers that Ukraine never had a right to exist.
Carlson sat doe-eyed. At the end he tweeted a placid comment explaining that ‘Whatever you think Putin is sincere in his beliefs.’

It was an interview, as Peter Tatchell put it: “Full of Kremlin lies and propaganda. A pathetic pseudo justification by Putin for Russian fascism and imperialist aggression – 99% unchallenged by Tucker Carlson.”

Afterwards Carlson emerged to declare: “Russia is not an expansionist power.” Tell that to about a fifth of Georgia, Crimea, or the presently occupied Ukraine.

The whole charade was jointly hosted on Tucker Carlson’s own website and the Kremlin’s. The Kremlin provided the translators. It has been watched by millions of people on You Tube, Facebook and Twitter, where it was hosted and promoted by Elon Musk.

I normally reject the ‘horseshoe’ theory of politics which suggests that the extreme left and the extreme right meet in the middle. But the Carlson moment does present a convergence with the far-right and some on the left who view him as some brave figure taking on the establishment. In fact, as we know, real journalists in Russia are harassed, intimidated, threatened, and occasionally murdered. This, like so much was never raised by the interviewer.

So what was it all about? It certainly gave Putin massive unchallenged airplay to a western audience. Carlson comes over as a harmless crank, just part of the madness of the MAGA movement and its attendant media circus. But here he is more than that, he is a propagandist for a dictator guilty of war crimes on European soil. It also must be part of a Trump campaign tactic to leverage pro-Putin sympathy among US voters and create an anti-Biden sentiment for his supporters by associating Biden with the war in Ukraine.

But as Trump’s sanity unravels in livestream, the right and far-right in Britain who praise him and consider him an ally are in a dangerous game. Putin’s patsy is softening up the US public for a withdrawal of support for Ukraine and a ‘peace pack’ which would carve up the country.

Comments (11)

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  1. Alastair McIntosh says:

    What an excellent analysis. The only thing I’d add, was the comeuppance of watching the gormless Carlson dangled by his heels by the grim history teacher from out the classroom window.

    Putin put him straight. He was having no dumbed down chat show. This was “serious”, and by that seriousness in the face of vacuity, Putin evaded any critique of his own authoritarian worldview. He had the useful idiot, the would-be CIA agent but for the CIA being too much a serous agency, played.

    The way Carlson’s smug look at having (with the odious Musk) drawn the world to watch his show freeze into a mask, was a treat to behold. He realised he was ‘way out of his depth, but lacked the capacity to swim and dive rather than get away with his usual paddle and splash.

    Here stood exposed a shallow celebrity who trades on an avuncular lad-at-the-back-of-the-classroom appeal to wolf-whistle MAGA, but which does real harm to some of America’s most vulnerable people.

    Anent which: your “I normally reject the ‘horseshoe’ theory of politics … but the Carlson moment does present a convergence with the far-right and some on the left who view him as some brave figure …” Is that not the point of the horseshoe analysis? Both ends, at their extremes, drift apart from rational thought predicated on values, and owe their populist appeal mainly to a wash of unresolved (by which I mean, unsorted, un-worked through) emotion that, in the last analysis, runs no deeper, and no kinder, than the lynching rope.

    Wormwood met his Screwtape, but like with the CIA, he failed the grade.

  2. A Lewis says:

    Tuck by name Cuck by nature. No wonder the American right lap up his drivel.

  3. Edward Cairney says:

    Britain has been at war with Russia for over 100 years except for a brief spell in WW2 when our enemy’s enemy was our friend. The man says he wants to talk, why not? better than what we have now. This was a landmark interview, hopefully some good will come of it.

  4. SleepingDog says:

    Politics is multidimensional, and even if the notional left–right continuum can be well enough defined (egalitarian–hierarchical say) to form one of these dimensions, any two political positions in the model that are far apart on one dimension can look close together from another angle which emphasises, say, the hawk-dove dimension, or theist–scientist, humanist–biologist, isolationist–internationalist, open–closed society, charismatic–systematic etc. A useful multidimensional political model will have more dimensions than can be mapped onto everyday objects like horseshoes. Plus, of course, some political ideologies contain more or less chaos, contradiction and mystery, making rational plotting difficult. Which is often the point.

  5. John says:

    From what I have observed over many years the ‘horseshoe effect’ has more to do with attitude than policy. Both far right and far left are common in their utter belief that they are right and everyone else is wrong which also makes them more authoritarian in outlook.
    This could explain why they are both attracted to someone like Putin.

  6. James says:

    What a lazy narrative towing article devoid of any true objective. Bella Caledonia is better than this.

    1. Which bit of the argument do you disagree with James?

      1. Mark Gordon says:

        Looks like James ran away – didn’t have courage of convictions.

  7. Paddy Farrington says:

    Excellent piece. Why is it that some (thankfully, not many, or so I believe) on the left who are supporters of Scottish independence – and therefore, presumably, of self-determination – do not support the right to self-determination of the people of Ukraine, especially when it involves opposing the nakedly reactionary and brutal regime of Vladimir Putin?

    1. Mark Gordon says:

      Because they are infantile?

    2. John says:

      Paddy – people at either extremes are so hung up on their own personal dogma they often can’t see the wood for the trees.

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