In pointing out Tucker Carlson's pro-Putin, anti-American attitudes over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Newsmax found an anti-Fox News narrative with some traction.
By Terry Krepel Posted 8/1/2022
After months of sniping at Fox News for not being as right-wing and pro-Trump as it is, Newsmax began a narrative that actually had some traction and can't be dismissed as merely taking potshots at the competition. Toward the end of 2021, Newsmax writers -- led by Dick Morris, of all people -- started targeting Fox News host Tucker Carlson for his support for authoritarian Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
As Russian aggression toward Ukraine ratcheted up, Morris and Newsmax continued targeting Carlson, as shown in a Jan. 21 article by Charlie McCarthy:
Former presidential adviser Dick Morris ripped Fox News host Tucker Carlson Friday for "helping to join the Putin people" who are trying to scare Americans into believing that defending Ukraine against Russia will lead to a long, costly war.
Carlson on Tuesday tweeted, "America is moving towards war with Russia, and the media is encouraging it." On his program Thursday night, he told viewers that the U.S. defending Ukraine "serves no American interest."
Morris slammed Carlson's hyperbole and told Newsmax a war between the U.S. and Russia will not happen.
"He should know better, that economic sanctions can accomplish [stopping Russian aggression]," said Morris, a former adviser to then-Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.
"I can't believe that Tucker Carlson is so willing to throw away the entire legacy and work of President Ronald Reagan," he said, noting Reagan's success is liberating Eastern Europe from communist subjugation.
Republican senators say they are not moved by Fox News host Tucker Carlson's recent rants in favor of Russia's Vladimir Putin while deriding support of Ukraine.
Carlson has been on a tirade rationalizing Russia's aggression toward Ukraine and downplaying its relevance to U.S. national security.
But major Republican figures are not afraid of taking on Fox's top-rated host for what they believe is dangerous thinking, if not outright propaganda.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said lawmakers' actions are more important than TV hosts' opinions.
"Our allies around the world obviously after Afghanistan are doubting our credibility, our reliability," Cornyn said.
Dick Morris, a veteran political strategist and Newsmax analyst, has worked on Ukrainian elections and believes Carlson is deceiving the public.
Morris bashed Carlson again on Newsmax TV on Feb. 22:
Those who have been apologists for Russia and Vladimir Putin like Fox News' Tucker Carlson are woefully "short-sighted" about this "takeaway" by the "expansionist" regime, starting a "de facto world war," according to political strategist Dick Morris on Newsmax.
"Tucker Carlson, amazingly, on Fox News, said that he would choose Russia over Ukraine I mean, how short-sighted could you be?" Morris told Tuesday's "America Agenda."
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Morris used his Feb. 24 column to beat up on Carlson some more:
But as war now rages in Europe with Russia’s reckless and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine, everything we feared about Vladimir Putin is coming true.
Still Fox’s top host is doubling down on his own support of the Russian dictator and even claims he would back Russia over innocent Ukraine.
Carlson is making claims which are patently false.
As I have written before, he's smarter than this.
I don’t know what his motive is, but I do know it’s a problem that he's seeking to win over normally sane rational Fox News viewers, and by osmosis, some Newsmax viewers.
We are watching pure 1930s-style appeasement in action on Fox News and in Carlson’s show. It’s not an invasion. It’s an incursion. It’s not important. Ukraine is not a vital ally. It’s none of our business. It’s Europe’s problem. They’re corrupt.
Such talking points must be dear to Putin’s heart as they split the conservative freedom-loving Republicans in America and sap the very limited reservoir of courage and resolve in Joe Biden’s heart.
Offering a coward a way out is like buying a drunk a drink.
Newsmax chief Christopher Ruddy even issued a company statement bashing Carlson's support for Putin:
Newsmax believes Russia has made a major transgression and this should be condemned strongly by all people. I think we are seeing for conservatives a clarity moment where Fox News’ main host is stating categorically he is siding with Putin and Russia in support of the invasion. Newsmax supports President Biden’s efforts to stop this invasion, if anything we think he is not being strong enough. We believe there is a bipartisan consensus in opposition to this dangerous aggression.
But as Mediaite noted, "Ruddy’s statement raised eyebrows across the media world, however, as Newsmax’s content in the past week and even 24 hours has been both highly critical of Biden and dismissive of the severity of Putin’s invasion," adding:
The conservative news network released the statement some twelve hours after Michael Savage appeared on Newsmax and condemned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “puppet of George Soros” who “provoked” Putin. Earlier on Thursday night, host Greg Kelly excused Putin’s invasion of Ukraine by comparing it to the U.S. invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush and went on to claim the U.S. should get rid of term limits, arguing Putin’s lengthy reign has benefitted Russia.
Meanwhile, another Newsmax TV host, Rob Schmitt, got a dressing down by none other than John Bolton for giving too much credit to Donald Trump for containing Russia, as Mediaite also reported:
Former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton corrected and scolded Newsmax host Rob Schmitt on Monday evening over the assertion that Vladimir Putin didn’t invade Ukraine while Donald Trump was president because his administration was “very tough” on Russia.
“In almost every case the sanctions were imposed with Trump complaining about it, saying we were being too hard,” said Bolton. “The fact is he barely knew where Ukraine was.”
“He once asked John Kelly, the second chief of staff, if Finland were part of Russia,” Bolton continued. “It’s just not accurate to say that Trump’s behavior somehow deterred the Russians.”
Toward the end of the interview, Schmitt said that credit is nevertheless due, and claimed Trump was the first to warn Europe about the dangers of relying on Russian gas and oil.
“The first person to tell the Europeans not to rely on Russian oil and gas was Ronald Reagan,” said Bolton, which elicited a “Fair enough,” from Schmitt.
Newsmax needs to work a bit on unifying its messaging.
A March 14 article by Theodore Bunker noted how "The Kremlin has been urging Moscow-friendly media outlets to use more material from No. 1 Fox News host Tucker Carlson to defend the Russia's actions in Ukraine," adding that "The Fox host has blamed NATO for fomenting the crisis as it has added states close to Russia to its membership. Carlson has made this claim though NATO had never formally offered membership to Ukraine."
Dick Morris lashed out again at Carlson in a March 16 column:
For over three decades in my professional work, I faced off against Russian propaganda in elections in Mexico, Taiwan, Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Ukraine, and even in Russia itself.
Through this time, I've discerned certain patterns in how our adversary fights against freedom and seeks to manipulate minds.
Eerily, I find myself dealing with this dangerous propaganda from Fox's Tucker Carlson.
He has effectively become Vladimir Putin's number one ally in the United States today (though I realize Carlson does not see it that way).
Remember, the Russians may not be great military geniuses, but their expertise in propaganda and psychological warfare is unparalleled.
Morris went on to note that "Neither Putin's nor Carlson's claims hold up under any scrutiny," adding:
Carlson has every right to hold his point of view.
He is not guilty of treason for doing so, and nor is Tulsi Gabbard, the former Democrat representative from Hawaii.
But his isolationism in the face of Putin's evil, even advocated with the best of intentions, endangers us all.
A March 18 article by Eric Mack noted that "Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is praising Fox News' coverage of its war on Ukraine, hailing it as 'trying to represent some alternative points of view' and denouncing 'information terrorism,'" adding that "Since the onset of the war, Fox’s Tucker Carlson has become a media star in Russia, as the Kremlin has urged state-owned media outlets to replay clips from his top-rated cable show."
A March 28 article by Luca Cacciatore recounted a Newsmax TV appearance in which the brother of the mayor of Kyiv took a shot at Carlson:
Wladimir Klitschko, the brother of Kyiv's mayor and a former two-time heavyweight world champion boxer, characterized Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine to Newsmax on Monday as "a pure genocide."
He also lashed out at Fox News' Tucker Carlson, Candace Owens and other Americans who have vocally opposed offering military aid to Ukraine. This, in an appearance on "Eric Bolling The Balance."
Bolling himself lashed out at Carlson, as described in an April 6 article:
Newsmax host Eric Bolling delivered an impassioned plea to Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday, regarding the latter's views on Russia's war with Ukraine.
In a six-minute monologue, Bolling asked Carlson his former colleague at Fox to take back previous comments that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin could potentially use to justify the atrocities.
Bolling said he thinks Russian officials "see Tucker Carlson as their ally, the guy across the ocean who's helping their cause."
He added: "Tucker, I respect what you're doing; your wit and wisdom are right up there. But you spend too much time up in your intellectual ivory tower. Let me tell you what [it] looks like down here.
"... Now is the time to come down from the ivory tower, time to speak out against past comments, current comments even, or actions that in any way show support for Russia or can be used by Russia in a way to show that any of us support what they're doing there."
Morris served up even more Carlson-bashing in an April 17 article:
Russia's Vladimir Putin has snagged Fox News and host Tucker Carlson hook, line, and sinker by his propaganda machine, sharing an "anti-American" narrative to conservatives, according to political strategist Dick Morris on Newsmax.
"Putin's strategy is, essentially what the Russians have always done, which is when they do something wrong: They take the copy and they turn it around on its head and blame us for it, even though it's something that they, and not we, have done," Morris, a former adviser to both former President Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump, told Saturday's "The Count."
"It's shocking to see Tucker Carlson doing this, and it's outrageous to see Fox News going along. This is not just pro-Russia, this is not anti-Ukraine, this anti-American."
Russia is even using Fox News and Carlson clips to justify Putin's invasion of Ukraine and continued escalations, Morris lamented.
"To see the Russian state media, the propaganda machine, quoting the leading talk television host in the United States is outrageous," he added.
Siding with Russia as it invades Ukraine is not only a bad look, but it is spreading disinformation to Americans, according to Morris.
"I think it's absurd and really shocking that Tucker Carlson in particular and Fox News in general really appear to be siding with Russia in this war," he said. "We have Tucker's overt statements saying, 'I side with Russia or I prefer Russia.'"
"And every night Tucker spews a monologue that basically says that the United States and our allies caused this invasion by provoking it by flirting with the idea of Ukraine joining NATO."
Morris said he spent a night this week watching Fox News and "found absolutely no coverage of what's really happening in Ukraine."
"No coverage of Putin's war crimes; no coverage of the atrocities sometimes they pass it off with, 'We all know that Putin's not a great guy, but,' and then you go on," Morris noted.
Fox News is just not sharing the total truth, Morris concluded.
"Every night we see real images, not phony ones, of unbelievable havoc and hell being wrought upon the people of Ukraine by Russia and yet we turn to Fox News and we see this stuff denied, downplayed," Morris said.
Morris used a May 17 column to lash out at Republican Sen. Rand Paul for obstructing U.S. aid to Ukraine, taking another shot at Carlson and Fox News in the process:
Rand Paul and a small band of Republican congressmen are using the same arguments and the same phony construct to oppose aid to Ukraine.
It is a message that Fox News' Tucker Carlson has been pushing for weeks: Why are we spending money on Ukraine when we need money for cancer research, roads and bridges, border security -- and as we struggle to keep gas prices down and fight inflation.
Carlson has long been a Kremlin apologist. And Fox News has been abetting his position with little or no coverage of Russia's war on Ukraine during its prime-time hours.
Fox's audience is becoming increasingly blind to the reality of this war, opening the door for Rand Paul and others.
Thankfully most Americans see the real danger Vladimir Putin poses to all of us.
Morris isn't the only person at Newsmax serving up stopped-clock takes, however. The hard-right David Horowitz and Daniel Greenfield took their own shots at Carlson and Fox News in a May 19 column, though they did find a way to blame Democrats for doing things that led up to this and President Biden for not doing anything effective:
Tucker and the conservative patriots who have joined him are wrong wrong in their analyses, wrong in their priorities, and wrong in their opposition to a war that the West (led by the United States) must win.
Tucker has argued that Ukraine is a remote European country, and the U.S. has no security interest there that is worth the cost or the risks involved in defending it.
But in today’s world there are no remote countries.
What is happening in Ukraine is like 40 Guernicas or Coventrys rolled into one; it is also a spectacle of inspiring human heroism and courage with few parallels in our time or any other.
America can not turn our backs on the ordinary Ukrainian people who have risen so nobly to defend their homes.
Under President Trump, this crisis would not have occurred. There’s a reason that both of Putin’s invasions of Ukraine took place under White House Democrats.
That’s also why Russia’s Alaska incursions flared up under Obama and Biden.
Weakness is much more likely to bring on a war.
Abandoning the Ukrainians would be a sign of crippling weakness.
Biden badly mishandled the Ukraine crisis.
But we should not let the corruption in the White House or other political institutions, here and abroad, blind us to the human suffering or the bigger issues at stake for our national security.
If Russia’s efforts in Ukraine fall apart, it will not be due to Biden or the European Union, but the resilience of ordinary people in the face of war.
Horowitz and Greenfield can't quite concede that the billions in aid and weapons the U.S. and Europe are sending to Ukraine might be playing a major role, presumably because Democrats and liberals are behind them.