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Poor show: When Tucker Carlson met his hero, Vladimir Putin

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Liubov Abravitova is the Ambassador of Ukraine to South Africa.

Carlson wasn’t educated or knowledgeable enough to ask hard questions, but that was not his intention in the first place.

No matter what you do and how you live your life, information overload is not only present, but often prevalent. We now have a reality where narratives can be crafted and disseminated with unprecedented speed and precision – the potency of propaganda and disinformation seems boundless. 

Yet, paradoxically, despite the meticulous efforts of propagandists, their endeavours often encounter formidable obstacles and even backfire. 

So… let’s talk about one particular “interview”. 

I can’t even tell you how glad I am that I didn’t have time to write about the nonsense of Tucker Carlson’s “interview” last week when Russia’s propaganda machine was boosting the interview with terrorist #1:

“This is life-changing information!”

“The world will never be the same!”

“The greatest journalist of all time interviews the king!”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed that American interest in Putin’s interview was “undeniable”.

Putin’s sock puppet Dmitry Medvedev, who’s also a Russian Security Council deputy chairman and Russia United Party chairman, said “Putin told the Western world in the most thorough and detailed way why Ukraine did not exist, does not exist, and will not exist”. 

The head of Russian propaganda TV, Margarita Simonyan (yes, the one who says she’s praying for world hunger) even went as far as saying that she cried watching the “interview”, and that the uneducated were “stunned” by the depths of Putin’s historical knowledge. 

Genuine historians around the world (well, not only historians, anyone with a functioning brain) burst out laughing every time someone tried to table Putin’s points from the “interview”. 

In just one week, the Kremlin saw their “big interview” mostly flop and their dear leader become a literal internet meme. 

They’ve now completely changed their propaganda tack and are backpedalling like crazy, with Putin himself saying he’s disappointed that he wasn’t pressed and asked any “sharp questions”. 

Read more here: Tucker Carlson’s Lesson in the Perils of Giving Airtime to Vladimir Putin – The New York Times

Pathetic. Delusional. Laughable. Sadly unsurprising. 

So, let’s talk “facts”. 

First and foremost, the obvious question: who is Tucker Carlson?

I don’t see him as a journalist. I think he’s a social media persona with a large following, a YouTuber, and an Xer, or whatever it is. But it’s not just my personal judgment of Carlson’s work. His former employer – Fox Network, literally went to court to prove Tucker isn’t a real journalist, but an entertainer. 

Just read US District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil’s opinion, leaning heavily on the arguments of Fox’s lawyers: “The general tenor of the show should then inform a viewer that [Carlson] is not stating actual facts about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in exaggeration and non-literal commentary.”

She wrote: “Fox persuasively argues that given Mr Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of scepticism’ about the statements he makes.”

Read more here: You Literally Can’t Believe The Facts Tucker Carlson Tells You. So Say Fox’s Lawyers

Carlson’s “analytical news” show was indeed just a show. 

We can see that “exaggeration” and “non-literal commentary”, which is called “lies and misinformation” in the real world, are still Carlson’s trademark.

Another “fascinating” thing about Carlson: he was, and is, widely praised and celebrated by racists, white supremacy groups and white nationalists. 

Richard Spencer, American neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist and white supremacist, loved everything about Carlson’s world view, saying: 

“If someone were to ask me who’s the most interesting and impactful mainstream conservative commentator, the answer is easy: Tucker. He’s willing to go places the others aren’t, and he can be sharp and witty.” 

Former Ku Klux Klan head David Duke frequently tweeted praise of Carlson’s show.

And the disgusting white supremacist website, Daily Stormer, loved Carlson. 

Here’s a statistic for you: “…Carlson had been featured in 265 articles on the Daily Stormer between November 2016 and November 2018. By way of comparison, Sean Hannity, considered Donald Trump’s most rock-ribbed supporter on Fox News, was featured in 27 articles in the same period”. 

Read more here: Opinion | Tucker Carlson, the Daily Stormer’s favorite – The Washington Post

Fox abruptly settled the Dominion case by paying an eye-watering $787.5-million, thus no one from Fox had to testify in court, and Carlson was abruptly fired. 

But, as the mass media then reported: “Carlson’s departure has turned a spotlight on what he said in depositions, emails and text messages among the thousands of pages Dominion released in the leadup to jury selection in the case”.

Read more here: Defamation suit produced trove of Tucker Carlson messages | AP News

Here’s a glimpse of some of his private messages: 

Tucker Carlson’s Text to a Producer

EXHIBIT 276

Tucker Carlson January 7, 2021 — 04:18:04 PM UTC

“A couple of weeks ago, I was watching video of people fighting on the street in Washington. A group of Trump guys surrounded an Antifa kid and started pounding the living shit out of him. It was three against one, at least. Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it. Then somewhere deep in my brain, an alarm went off: this isn’t good for me. I’m becoming something I don’t want to be. The Antifa creep is a human being. Much as I despise what he says and does, much as I’m sure I’d hate him personally if I knew him, I shouldn’t gloat over his suffering. I should be bothered by it. I should remember that somewhere somebody probably loves this kid, and would be crushed if he was killed. If I don’t care about those things, if I reduce people to their politics, how am I better than he is?” 

What a noble human being, and not at all the horrifying racist all of us are trying to portray him as.

Read more here: Tucker Carlson’s Text That Alarmed Fox: ‘It’s Not How White Men Fight’ – The New York Times

One last thing I’m going to say about this “journalist” whom Russia was hysterically celebrating almost as much as they did when the first McDonald’s opened in Moscow – spreading propaganda, boosting terrorists and rooting for the genocide of Ukrainians is absolutely diabolical and most certainly fascist. 

He commented just days before the death of Alexey Navalny, saying: “Every leader kills people, leadership requires killing.” What a wonderful humanist he is.

Carlson wasn’t educated or knowledgeable enough to ask Putin hard questions, but that was not his intention in the first place. 

He giggled throughout the interview, didn’t ask a single important question, didn’t fact-check Putin once, nodded while Putin was rambling about how Hitler had no other choice but to attack because Poland “provoked him” in 1939.

Carlson was chosen because, as Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, “he has a position that differs from the rest.” Meaning: he is a man who will sit, giggle and nod while real journalists are rotting in Russian jails. 

Multiple journalists and news agencies have been wanting to interview Putin for years and Carlson, of all people, got the chance. And he blew it.

Carlson’s interview was supposed to put the Russian population at ease and show that Putin isn’t isolated from the rest of the world and that “famous American journalists” would come to interview him and fall head over heels in love with him. 

Additionally, Russia urgently needs America to stop sending military aid to Ukraine. They have been using weapons from North Korea and Iran for a long while now – meaning they cannot sustain themselves and need foreign military aid to keep this war going. 

Unfortunately, we just don’t have enough weapons to kick the terrorists off our land. 

With this “interview”, Putin tried to sell a narrative in which he is a victim – trying to convince people abroad to demand that their governments stop helping Ukraine.

Moreover, let’s not forget: Putin is a former KGB agent, so he thinks he’s successfully manipulating and exploiting events to influence public polling in the West. His goal is to create hysteria, a depressed view of the future, and fear of Putin as an “influential world leader” with weapons of mass destruction. 

But people laughed. And made memes. About a man obsessed with only his view of both the USSR and the Russian Empire that aren’t accurate in any way.

Another question people asked after the Carlson “interview”: What did Putin actually say?  

This one is understandable as he was, in fact, quite confusing. I think the best assessment of this grandpa gibberish was given by Timothy Snyder, a historian specialising in the history of Central and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and the Holocaust, who quipped: “Putin just took a couple of hours to say: ‘I must destroy Ukraine because I have no idea what Russia is’.”

Now, if you’ve missed this particular circus, a few snippets: 

Putin thinks the borders of countries aren’t legitimate. So, if he’s pretending he’s Stalin today, he is going to erase all of the borders to recreate the USSR.

If he woke up as a Czar Nicholas II or Katherine the Great, then he’s delegitimising other borders.

“In his conversation with Carlson, Putin focused on the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries. Moscow did not exist then. So even if we could perform the wishful time travel that Putin wants, and turn the clock back to 988, it could not lead us to a country with a capital in Moscow,” Snyder writes.

Putin is not a scholar or a historian. He wasn’t even an exceptional government official who was loved in his country. He was a subpar KGB agent and a surprise FSB boss who was, to the surprise of all, named as Boris Yeltsin’s successor.

Watching this corrupt former government official twitch in his seat rambling about made-up history while a mail-ordered YouTuber giggles at God knows what was, honestly, a bit surreal.

Read more here: Why did Russia invade Ukraine? Experts break down Putin’s motivations and excuses for launching his war

The funniest jab at Putin was taken by Mongolia’s former president, Tsakhia Elbegdor, who mocked Putin with a map showing how big the Mongol empire used to be, and how tiny Russia was.

And, of course, if we are now “taking our lands back”, then 90% of today’s Russian territory could be claimed by China, Japan, Germany, Lithuania, Finland and all of the colonised republics inside Russia itself.

Perhaps Putin would like to talk to Carlson about ethnic Ukrainian lands that did not become part of the Ukrainian state; the historically Ukrainian-inhabited lands of Kuban, Starodubshchyna, North and East Slobozhanshchyna within the boundaries of modern Krasnodar Krai, Belgorod, Bryansk, Voronezh, Kursk, and Rostov Oblasts of the Russian Federation? How about that for a topic?

Additionally, this time Putin claimed Ukraine was invented by Stalin, though in his previous speeches, it was Lenin.

Just imagine: Lenin sitting in his little hut, or Stalin in his Abkhazia country house, inventing Ukraine! Inventing the Ukrainian language (about 256,000 words), all of the national costumes and traditions, coming up with all the literature, art, architecture, universities… Truly genius.

Now, before I go: there is a fresh interview with a real journalist. 

So if you want to see how a knowledgeable, intellectual, prepared and unafraid member of the press can ask tough, probing questions, watch  the BBC’s Stephen Sackur interview with Vassily Nebenzya, the Russian representative at the UN: 

Watch here: Challenging Discussion With Russian UN Representative: Vassily Nebenzia – HARDtalk | 7 February 2024 Challenging Discussion With Russian UN Representative: Vassily

Another question everyone asks is, why was Putin in need of such an obvious piece of propaganda? 

As with any dictator, he’s desperate to hold on to power. And though elections in Russia are now a tragicomedy show, with most of the real opposition either killed or unable to even get their names on the ballot, there’s still, however slim, a chance people would reject the so-called “elections”. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Agf Agf says:

    The lady doth protest too much, meethinks.

  • Theo Potgieter says:

    Very difficult article to read with it being so bias, very unlike the DM

    • bigbad jon says:

      Sadly, the ukrainians sense the show is almost over, the billions are no longer flowing from the USA so they are viciously attacking everyone that doesn’t support them. Using the usual defamatory cudgels of nazi, kkk, poorly-educated, etc.. Carlson is very popular in the USA for a simple reason: he talks sense, no PC waffle. Explaining that to this biased ukrainian ambassador would be impossible.

    • Rodney Weidemann says:

      You do understand what the term ‘Opinionista’ means, don’t you? It is only news articles that are expected to be unbiased – bias is inherent in opinion pieces…

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Disgusting, inappropriate and pathetic interview to give the mass-murdering and evil Putin thug chapter and verse to air his deranged views on Ukraine etc. Full of falsehoods, deception, lies, distortions and propaganda – the Russians since the very beginning of Soviet times are masters at it and there are useful fools the world over who believe such nonsense and vitriol. A history lesson only in his psychopathic mind! Keep up the good work, Mrs. Ambassador, in exposing the lies and deceit. Hitler also had his own “historical truths” and this is no different. Hitler and Stalin’s DNA run very deep in this monster!

  • Mthombeni Eugene says:

    Quoting Geopolitcal Analyst Peter Koenig in…

    “Why would President Putin kill his adversary, who is safely locked away in a prison in Siberia, almost 2,000 km north of the Kremlin?

    The Munich Security Conference
    Makes even less sense to have this presumed “murder” committed on the very day, when the Munich Security Conference (MSC, Febr 16-18, 2024) opened its doors to a plethora of —politicians with names, famous or infamous, like Antony Blinken, current US Secretary of State; Hillary Clinton, (remember, “We came, we saw, he died” about Muammar Gadaffi; John Kerry, the “Climate Czar”, Joe Biden’s Special Envoy on Climate, and many more.

    The MSC was the perfect occasion to lambast President Putin, to denigrate him, to call him names, including “murderer”. It looks like Navalny’s death was perfectly planned, so perfectly, it sounds and looks almost naïve to believe that President Putin would choose such a moment in time – the Munich Security Conference MSC – to get rid of his opposition leader.

    In other words, the planners behind this presumed murder, were addressing the Western “Putin haters” in the hope that pressure would mount, trusting to get closer to President Putin’s demise. It is therefore highly unlikely that Mr. Navalny’s death was a Kremlin inside job. Just think, cui bono – who benefits?”

    Pretty obvious Vladimir Putin isn’t that dumb afterall…and the world knows who’s the master con of pretexts, proxy wars, maidens, colour revolutions and all.

    • Neil Parker says:

      “Pretty obvious Vladimir Putin isn’t that dumb afterall…and the world knows who’s the master con of pretexts, proxy wars, maidens, colour revolutions and all”

      “The world” in this case being Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Tucker Carlson, various rag tag white supremacists in the US , you and the ANC. I guess the angelic Putin didn’t try previously poisoning Navalny. I guess the last US election was a ‘con’ as was the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    • John P says:

      The thing is, Putin doesn’t give a damn

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