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On February 1, 2024, former American TV presenter Tucker Carlson flew to Moscow to interview Vladimir Putin. Carlson is the author of numerous statements that discredit Ukraine, spread fakes, and promote Russian views. Furthermore, it has even been called the "American Solovyov" in Ukraine.

From 2016 to April 2023, Carlson worked for the Republican conservative American TV channel Fox News. There he hosted the author's evening talk show "Tucker Carlson Tonight", which gathered high viewership ratings. Tucker Carlson did not hesitate to share various conspiracy theories, such as the presence of biolaboratories on the territory of Ukraine, the hiding of information about aliens by the American government, the ineffectiveness and dangers of vaccination against COVID-19, etc. In addition to spreading fakes about biolaboratories, Carlson accuses Ukraine of undermining the Kakhovka HPP dam, authoritarianism and persecution of the opposition, cooperation with the Nazis during World War II, etc. The presenter adheres to sharply anti-liberal positions: he criticizes feminism, the "Black Lives Matter" movement, and the fight against global warming. He advocates the legalization of guns for citizens in all US states, closing the borders to migrants, and a complete abortion ban. Tucker Carlson has never hidden his sympathies for the Republican Party and former US President Donald Trump. He also justified the seizure of the Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6, 2021, and said that the 2020 US presidential election was allegedly rigged in favor of Joe Biden.

Following this, Carlson was fired from Fox News: he spread a hoax that the Dominion Voting Systems voting machines were allegedly programmed to rig elections. The slot machine manufacturer sued the TV station for defamation and won, forcing the latter to pay almost $800 million in damages, a record amount in US history. Despite the substantial fortune of Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch and the popularity of Carlson's show, he was taken off the air after a court decision.

The presenter launched his own show on the X platform (formerly Twitter), using the support of its owner, Elon Musk, who is also a sympathizer of the radical wing of the US Republican Party. The number of subscribers to his account is growing rapidly, and as of February 8, it has approximately 11.5 million viewers. The average number of views of one video is 3-6 million. Carlson has already interviewed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Argentine President Javier Millais, and his idol Donald Trump, who said he was considering him a running mate in his presidential campaign. Therefore, it is not surprising that since the beginning of his visit to Moscow, Russian propaganda has recorded and reported almost every step of the presenter in Russia: "Tucker Carlson attended a performance at the Bolshoi Theater", "Tucker Carlson visited an all-Russian exhibition", "Tucker Carlson was spotted in the lobby of the Moscow hotel", "Tucker Carlson visited Vkusno i tochka (Tasty — That's It)" (a plagiarized copy of McDonald's, which opened in Russia after the latter exited its market — DM’s note), "Vladimir Solovyov invited Tucker Carlson to the Union of Journalists of Russia", "Tucker Carlson was invited to Pavel Volya's show on the TNT channel", etc. Russians counted over 2,000 mentions of the propagandist in the Russian media over the past week. It caused sarcastic jokes and memes on social networks: "Tucker Carlson became the first American in ten years to be admitted to the U Gago barbecue restaurant." US citizens have not been allowed in the barbecue food spot since April 2014 in response to the anti-Crimean annexation sanctions. "This one seems normal; let him eat here," the restaurant owner commented on his decision.

This wave of information and news in the Soviet propaganda style outraged even some representatives of Russian agitational propaganda. For example, Andrey Medvedev, an employee of the propagandist channel named "Russia" in his Telegram channel, criticized the excessive attention paid by the Russian media to Carlson's arrival: "For the third day, I am curiously watching something outstanding. How people who make fun of Ukrainians for their flattering squats in front of European politicians and public figures carefully record Tucker Carlson's every move and sneeze in Moscow. He flew in, he ate, and he drank tea. How wonderful it was that an American came to us! The happiness has come. Comrades, don't you have a bipolar feeling?". One of the propagandist Telegram channels frankly ridicules such attention to Carlson: "Tucker Carlson has converted to Orthodoxy, changed his name to Fofudius, and is running for the next elections to the State Duma. Also, he had a good breakfast today, exclusive footage of the leftover fried bacon coming soon to your Sunday round-up (almost every major Russian media outlet).” This campaign in the Russian media is an example of the "multiple repetition" propaganda tactic. DM will further analyze which key messages of agitational propaganda were promoted in the context of Carlson's arrival and his interview with Putin.

"Tucker's actions are a manifestation of true freedom of speech; the American media are lying; there is censorship in the country"

Russian propagandists and Tucker Carlson use propaganda tactics of mirroring. Its essence lies in the fact that agitational propaganda makes the same accusations against its opponents as against Russia, meaning that it mirrors the actions of its opponents. Propaganda emphasizes that censorship flourishes in the USA and there is no freedom of speech: "The USA are trying to create an unconstitutional regime, denies the basis of American democracy — the first amendment to the Constitution on freedom of speech. They fear that if Tucker Carlson's interview with Putin occurs, the [Biden] administration will face a very unpleasant choice." Carlson said that three years ago, President Biden's administration allegedly prevented him from interviewing Putin, spied on him, and tried to discredit him. US officials denied this information. With the help of his political associate, the owner of X social network (formerly Twitter) Elon Musk, Carlson promoted another manipulation. Musk announced the other day that he would not block Carlson's interview with Putin on his platform, as if someone was going to block it from streaming. The Russian propagandist, ex-Ukrainian, and traitor Diana Panchenko immediately took advantage of this: "I want to pinpoint one more thing: for the USA, a country that teaches democracy and freedom of speech to the whole world, it is already considered an achievement if they promise not to delete something from the public platform. The USA now resembles the final years of the USSR in many ways: similar social and economic problems, the behavior of leaders... In the USSR, they tried to ban it, which only fueled the interest. But now is the era of the Internet. If they ban this interview, it will be shared even more. Therefore, they have nowhere to go."

Agitational propaganda and Carlson himself, to promote the future interview around the world, have tried to create a sense of prohibited information, struggle with the mainstream news, and an alleged desire to be "honest journalists", "hear both sides of the conflict", etc. Such manipulative rhetoric is aimed at those people who are not too knowledgeable about the actions of the Russian occupiers on the territory of Ukraine: "For many years, we have been told one side of the story: how important it is to defend Ukraine's borders. We have heard countless times from President Zelenskyy during his many trips to the US that he needs more money, more US intervention, and more involvement. But we didn't hear the other side. And I, for one, am interested in hearing both sides of this story and making my own decision. It is not praising Putin. It is not a praise of Zelenskyy. It is the glorification of the future of independent journalism."

Propagandist Diana Panchenko portrays Tucker Carlson not only as an outstanding fighter for freedom of speech but also for the freedom of "canonical Orthodoxy" in Ukraine, which seems absurd, considering the collaboration of many of its representatives with Ukraine's enemy: "Orthodox believers from Ukraine submitted to Tucker Carlson before him going to the airport, appeals and monitoring of violations of the rights of believers and repressions against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. They also presented an icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker written for him for help and protection. Previously, Carlson repeatedly raised the topic of repression against the Church in Ukraine."

Another of Carlson’s manipulative statements was about the fact that supposedly other American media representatives never even tried to interview Putin. The BBC, CNN, and even Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, refuted the manipulation. The latter said that Putin allegedly received many requests for interviews but did not want to communicate with foreign media, which "take a one-sided position ... in no way can they boast of attempts to look impartial in terms of covering what is happening." All this looks incredibly hypocritical and cynical against the background of the state of freedom of speech in Russia. It is worth reminding that the Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Hershkovich has been in a Russian pre-trial detention center for more than six months due to trumped-up charges of espionage.

"Tucker is Trump’s political representative, and he came to prevent the World War III"

Despite the closeness of political views, positive personal relations with Donald Trump, and the latter's words that Carlson can become a vice-presidential candidate together with him, it is yet too early to talk about it. Trump was asked this question on one of the TV shows and answered it relatively smoothly; his positive answer could have been no more than a sign of politeness.

However, this did not stop Russian propaganda. Enemy’s disinformers came up with the thesis that Carlson is a political representative of Trump: "There is a 'massive upheaval' in Kiev [transliteration from Russian] as Putin tries to win the US Republican Party’s favor," CNN anchor Erin Barnett said. According to her assessment, journalist Tucker Carlson went to Moscow as one of the Republican leaders close to Donald Trump. He allegedly came to negotiate with the dictator the prevention of World War III: "Today News Africa White House Correspondent Simon Ateba said: Why the media and the 'deep state' (a conspiracy theory in the US — DM’s note) are so upset that Tucker Carlson traveled to Russia to interview Vladimir Putin in hopes of ending the war in Ukraine and preventing World War III, while Biden suffers a diplomatic and global failure? What do they lose?".

Agitational propaganda also cites the words of American TV presenter Alex Jones: "Tucker wrote to me and said that the interview would change everything. He is trying to stop the World War III. Tucker told me it was a big deal. Our censorship [machine] is now in absolute panic. It wants the American people to remain in total darkness." He also quoted the American journalist Matt Kouch: "They don't want Tucker Carlson to interview Vladimir Putin because they don't want the Ukrainian carnage to stop. You are part of the issue if you haven't realized it yet." This message is a manipulation, just like the previous one, as it was Russia, led by Putin, who invaded the territory of Ukraine and unleashed the war and genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Tucker Carlson as an element of American politics

The primary purpose of Carlson's visit to Moscow and his interview with Putin is not the desire to "stop the World War III" but the desire to increase his recognition ratings due to another scandal, as well as to influence the results of the US presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.

Agitational propaganda mentions the issue of military aid to Ukraine, hinting that this interview can affect its fate: "Tucker Carlson was going to interview Putin at the most inappropriate moment for the West. The bidding for more than 60 billion dollars of military aid for Ukrainian Nazis is ongoing. The situation remains very interesting". Enemy’s disinformers also mention the controversy among American politicians regarding the issue of the border with Mexico in the context of Carlson and his interview: "The prominent Russophobe Bill Crystal proposed to ban Tucker Carlson from entering the United States until it is clear why he came to Moscow. To this, Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene replied that his entry could be banned, but the US has a "beautiful open border, and Carlson can return home through Mexico."

"Zelenskyy is used to the pre-agreed interviews and is afraid to talk to Tucker "

In addition to the interview with Putin, Tucker Carlson offered to interview Volodymyr Zelenskyy. As of February 8, the President of Ukraine did not give any comments regarding this claim. However, the adviser to the head of the Office of the President, Mykhailo Podolyak, categorically denied such a possibility and called Carlson a propagandist. Anonymous Telegram channels, which pretend to be pro-Ukrainian but spread Russian propaganda, emphasize Carlson's proposals to Zelenskyy and state that the president of Ukraine is allegedly afraid of difficult and direct questions: "Difficult choice for Zelenskyy. To refuse [the offer of an interview] would mean weakness. If he agrees, Tucker will ask tough and direct questions. The number of views and citations of both interviews (if they take place) will definitely be compared... Will Zelenskyy agree to answer Carlson's questions?". Anonymous Telegram channels also write that Zelenskyy may look unconvincing during an interview in which the questions have "not been agreed upon in advance": "Our source from the Office of the President (OP) said that the OP is now deciding on such an interview taking place, as Bankova is used to pre-agreeing all the questions with journalists beforehand. Since this will not happen here, Zelenskyy may look unconvincing." Yet, it is a false statement, as Zelenskyy has repeatedly spoken to journalists, particularly during his visits to the West, and answered utterly different questions.

Collage credits: Detector Media

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