Tucker Carlson is drawing a lot of attention this week for comments viewed as supportive of Vladimir Putin. In particular, the Fox News host on Tuesday questioned why "permanent Washington" hates the Russian leader so much, and the pushback against Carlson has been loud. Coverage:
- His comments: “It may be worth asking yourself, since it is getting pretty serious, what is this really about?" Carlson said Tuesday of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. He encouraged people to ask themselves, "Why do I hate Putin so much? Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him?" Carlson continued with a series of such questions, concluding with, “These are fair questions, and the answer to all of them is ‘no.’ Vladimir Putin didn’t do any of that. So, why does permanent Washington hate him so much?” Watch the clip, which has been viewed more than 3 million times on Twitter.
- Elaborating: The snippet was from Carlson's opening commentary, and he wrote an expanded essay here. He refers to the Russia-Ukraine matter as a "border dispute."
- Lone voice: Media writer Jack Shafer of Politico notes that Carlson is the only "major media commentator" who has "provided intellectual cover for the Russian leader’s adventure." Shafer describes it as "a weird tack for Carlson, who is much smarter than this, to take," especially given the straw-man questions he posed. "Finding him innocent of charges that nobody has leveled against him is an asinine way of demonstrating his guiltlessness. I’ve never beaten a kitten to death with my bare hands. Does virtuousness come with that?" So why is Carlson doing it? In part, because he knows what his audience likes.
- Kimmel: Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel slammed Carlson in a similar vein Wednesday. "So, in order for you to despise a man who murders his rivals—who murders and poisons people—and who’s actively trying to destabilize our country, he has to do something to you personally," he said, per the Daily Beast. "That makes sense. Thanks for asking all those very dumb questions and then answering them for us.” Kimmel adds: “I want to see the tape Putin has of him, because it has to be something special."
- Scathing: The most critical attack against Carlson might come from William Saletan at the Bulwark. Saletan compares the "demagogue" Carlson to one from decades ago: Charles Coughlin, or Father Coughlin, an American radio host who defended Hitler. "I’m very reluctant to accuse people of the worst acts or motives: racial animus, betraying the United States and its values, serving the interests of a hostile foreign power," writes Saletan. But in Tucker's case, he says he has no choice.
- Politics: “In 35 seconds here, @TuckerCarlson basically said: ‘Putin isn’t your enemy. Your fellow American is,]" tweeted GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger. “This is beyond dangerous, to say the least.” The Washington Post notes that Carlson has been previously accused of being a Putin "cheerleader," and the story digs into the background and related politics. It notes that former President Trump this week called Putin's strategy "genius" while bashing President Biden as weak.
- More generally: Top Republicans appeared to be divided in their responses to what's happening in Ukraine, and Politico breaks down three general categories, including those in the "isolationist, America-first" camp such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Ann Coulter, for one, makes the case that Republicans should stop talking about Ukraine, period.
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