A high-ranking foreign official’s reaction to Tucker Carlson’s departure from Fox News meant one more opportunity for corporate media to try and paint the commentator as a pro-Putin propagandist.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Carlson’s questioning of American involvement in the conflict has resulted in his routinely being labeled a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. When members of the United Nations Security Council met at the global organization’s New York Headquarters this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s comments on the former primetime host were ready fodder for CNN’s Erin Burnett to maintain that smear.
“Perhaps it would be useful to consider how things are with freedom of speech in the United States,” Lavrov was translated as saying during a press conference Tuesday.
“I’ve heard that Tucker Carlson has left Fox News. It’s curious news,” he continued. “What is this related to? One can only guess. But, clearly, the wealth of views in the American information space has suffered as a result.”
Playing the clip on “OutFront,” Burnett had framed the remark as “unprompted” and proceeded, “That’s the foreign minister for Vladimir Putin, Sergey Lavrov. With all that’s going on here in the United States, coming here, talking about the loss of Tucker Carlson. It’s unbelievable, right?”
What followed was a series of clips from “Tucker Carlson Tonight” edited together without context where the former host first said in Feb. 2022, “It might be worth asking yourself, since it is getting pretty serious, what is this really about. 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?…Does he eat dogs? These are fair questions, and the answer to all of them is no. Vladimir Putin didn’t do any of that.”
What Burnett didn’t address was that Lavrov’s comments were related to his asserting that the United States has been denying visas to Russian journalists which, when coupled with the revelations from the “Twitter Files” about federal agencies working with corporations to suppress and censor certain stories, opened the door for the foreign minister to take a shot at an apparent erosion of the First Amendment.
Of course, Carlson wasn’t helped any by the fact that Russian propagandists, and even Kremlin-backed Russia Today, were among the wave of job offers said to have been put out with word of his separation from Fox News.
On the program “Solovyov Live,” Dmitry Drobnitsky exclaimed “Our beloved Tucker Carlson has been fired, it’s a disgrace!” before Vladimir Solovyov himself said, “It’s a total outrage!”
“The main issue is that he started to discuss, in harsh terms, all of the goals that the liberal establishment is pursuing abroad,” Drobnitsky continued.
“Freedom to Tucker Carlson,” Solovyov suggested. “Tucker, come work with us! ‘Solovyov Live’ is waiting for you.”
Their conversation had shared the theory that Carlson’s removal was related to Fox News’ settlement of the $1.6 billion lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems for just under $800 million, as well as his coverage of Jan. 6, a point as yet unrefuted by the network that hasn’t elaborated on the reason for parting.