From Tucker Carlson to Madison Cawthorn: How Russia is using Americans in propaganda war

Russian state TV has ramped up its use of Americans to defend its war on Ukraine, and Rep Madison Cawthorn is the latest to make the jump


                            From Tucker Carlson to Madison Cawthorn: How Russia is using Americans in propaganda war
Tucker Carlson, Madison Cawthorn and Mike Pompeo (Janos Kummer/ Laszlo Balogh/Getty images)
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Three weeks in, Russia is still struggling to adequately justify its war on Ukraine. The US, EU, and even the United Nations have all agreed Vladimir Putin's claims of a "special military operation" targeting only military facilities have no merit. Yet, the lies continue to flow from the Kremlin, with a worrying twist. Instead of just relying on Russians, it appears the Kremlin is happy to use Americans who are reiterating its lies, such as Tucker Carlson.

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The Fox News host has long been accused of spreading lies, misinformation, and fake news, but the war on Russia is taking those allegations to a whole new level. Sadly, it appears he is no longer the only one. Russia's lies have moved from state TV to the internet, and now becoming the backbone for conspiracy theories that key conservatives are spreading in the US. From the claim about biolabs to blaming NATO, the Kremlin's talking points now dominate conservative media.

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It appears that those theories have now gone full circle, with the Kremlin now promoting the claims made by Carlson and others on American shows. Over the past few weeks, Russian TV channels and social media outlets have shared the comments in an attempt to show that even the US agrees with it. Here's a look at all the figures who've made it to Russian media.

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Americans turn into 'Russian assets'

The biggest name here has to be Carlson. The Fox News host has been repeatedly featured by the Kremlin, thanks to his widespread support for Russia. NBC News Foreign Correspondent Raf Sanchez was one of the many to highlight Carlson's success, tweeting, "Russian state TV spent a lot of time talking about high gas prices in the US – saying they were a sign of American sanctions backfiring. And a lot of clips of Fox’s Tucker Carlson criticising the US or Ukraine. Like several times a day."

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On March 13, Mother Jones even leaked a Kremlin memo telling Russian media "It is essential to use as much as possible fragments of broadcasts of the popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson." Interestingly, Carlson is the only western journalist featured in the memo. Since then, Carlson has become a nearly daily feature throughout Russia, from TV to social media. Tragically, he isn't the only one. 

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On Mach 10, Rep. Madison Cawthorn was caught saying "Remember that Zelenskyy is a thug" and "Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt." Since then, Russian state TV has reportedly played the clip "over and over", as Sanchez again showed. While Cawthorn has since backtracked on those comments, they continue to dominate Russian media. Even Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump's secretary of State has made it to Kremlin propaganda after he called Putin "very savvy, very shrewd” and "elegantly sophisticated."

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Even Democrats aren't completely immune, as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard found out. In late February, Gabbard appeared on Carlson's show and said, "These sanctions don’t work... They are so focused on how do we punish Putin that they don’t care and are not focused on what is actually in the best interests of the American people." That clip too has made it to Russia's airwaves on multiple occasions. 

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So far, these four are the only ones to be featured, but they are far from the only ones to spread Russia's lies. The list is likely to get longer and longer with each passing day, as more and more people spread the Kremlin's talking points, and the war slows down. 

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