It’s Friday, we are fully in the throes
Daylights Saving Time Daylight Savings Time Daylight Saving Times Daylight Saving Time, and Spring is Coming (the catchphrase for the new Game of Thrones show, Game of Thrones 2: Dragons Ride Again). There is a lot going on, but we’re still mostly talking about Ukraine, so let’s get after it.
I’m sure you’re wondering why this Jackal has such a ridiculous headline/why I’ve purposefully chosen to scar your brain for all eternity, or at least the weekend. It’ll become more clear below, but you have to walk with me there. For now, let’s talk about how the pro-Putin wing of the GOP is really a thing.
Flashback to the Fall of 2019, when Donald Trump scored his first impeachment for holding up aid to Ukraine. If you’re having trouble remembering, that bonkers saga centered around Trump trying to extort President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by withholding guaranteed aid unless Ukraine opened an investigation into then-presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Zelenskyy - who had only been President of Ukraine for a few months - was targeted in a grand scheme organized by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and his sidekicks, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman (both of whom have been indicted). While the ultimate goal was to get Zelenskyy to announce an investigation into Joe Biden, in order to do so the Trump Administration had to remove a lot of the road blocks standing in the way. Parnas and Fruman successfully pushed to get Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch removed by Trump, since she was seen as someone who wouldn't play ball with their scheme. A journalist named Serhiy Leshchenko had a job lined up in the Zelenskyy Administration, but he exposed Paul Manafort as a puppet for Vladimir Putin, so he had to go. Leshchenko was explicitly called out by Trump at Giuliani’s instruction.
Trump himself began setting the stage for major changes in U.S. policy towards Ukraine. He called Ukraine a “hopelessly corrupt” country, a charge that Zelenskyy pushed back on publicly. The goal was to create a media narrative that painted Ukraine as rife with corruption, and that a new investigation would sort it all out. It would start with a fresh look at Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The problem is that they all got found out, and Trump was impeached before the end of 2019.
Without the Ukrainian investigation into Biden, the narrative had to shift. No longer was Ukraine a previously corrupt country trying to root out the evil dealings of the Bidens; now they were a corrupt country fully in the pockets of Joe and Hunter. In opinion polls, Republican views of Ukraine plummeted. Normal GOP voters were forced (by both Trump and conservative media) to choose between Ukraine and Russia, as Putin was the great reformer of Ukrainian politics, which had coincidentally been in a mad descent since 2014, after a Kremlin puppet was ousted from power. Pro-Putin sentiment increased in the GOP, and Zelenskyy suffered.
This brings us to Tucker Carlson, who largely reflected GOP views at the time. During a broadcast in November of 2019, he asked his guest why he shouldn’t root for Russia in its conflict with Ukraine and said that he was, in fact, Team Russia:
Fast forward to 2022 and Republican sentiment has very much changed: They are aligned with Democrats on supporting Ukraine over Russia and huge majorities view Zelenskyy positively. Their media just isn’t keeping up with GOP voters.
Obviously, this isn’t the end of the story, because there is still a pro-Putin wing of the GOP. Charlie Sykes hits out at it:
Right now, the pro-Putin (or anti-anti-Putin) faction is clearly in the minority, but they continue to have out-sized influence, especially on Russian state TV, where they provide aid and comfort to the Kremlin.
He compiles the myriad of pro-Putin statements made by Republicans either in office or in media and, hoo man:
“So Putin is now saying it’s independent, a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s the strongest peace force.”
Fmr. President Donald Trump, February 2022 · Quote Source
“[Putin is] taking over a country for two dollars worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart.”
Fmr. President Donald Trump, February 2022 · Quote Source
“Remember that Zelenskyy is a thug. Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and it is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies.”
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), March 2022 · Quote Source
“NATO has been supplying the neo-Nazis in Ukraine with powerful weapons and extensive training on how to use them. What the hell is going with these #NATONazis?”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), March 2022 · Quote Source
“I think we should probably take the side of Russia, if we have to choose between Russia and Ukraine.”
Tucker Carlson, FOX News, December 2019 · Quote Source
“I gotta be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or the other.”
J.D. Vance, US Senate Candidate, February 2022 · Quote Source
“Every American who wants to know what’s *actually* going on in Russia and Ukraine, read this transcript of Putin’s address…WE are at fault.”
Candace Owens, Daily Wire, February 2022 · Quote Source
“No Republican should vote for any money for Ukraine. $0 for Ukraine.”
Steve Bannon, March 2022 · Quote Source
“The Soviet Union back before Russia when it broke up contained all of Ukraine including Crimea. The country itself is not really a country”
Peter Navarro, Former Trump WH Advisor, December 2021 · Quote Source
“I’m more concerned with the US-Mexico border than the Russia-Ukraine border. Not sorry.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), January 2022 · Quote Source
“It feels as if Putin is going into places that want him. They have voted overwhelmingly to be part of it. It is a family dispute that we shouldn’t get in the midst of, that’s for certain.”
Charlie Kirk, Turning Point USA, February 2022 · Quote Source
“We had kind of a really pathetic display from the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy.”
Laura Ingraham, FOX News, February 2022 · Quote Source
“Putin–unlike someone else we know–LOVES his country & FIGHTS for its interests”
Dinesh D’Souza, [convicted felon] September 2016 · Quote Source
“[Putin is] a very strong leader. He’s been in charge for a long time. And he’s not going to put up with the nonsense he’s seeing in Europe.”
Mike Flynn, former Trump National Security Advisor, February 2022 · Quote Source
“Zelensky is a globalist puppet for Soros and the Clintons.”
State Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-AZ), February 2022 · Quote Source
“I wish Putin was president of America.”
Nick Fuentes, America First Political Action Conference, February 2022 · Quote Source
If you go back to that Tucker video, later in the thread he does something super, super weird: He defends Bashar Assad and says that he may not have actually used chemical weapons in Syria.
It’s one thing to take sides against Ukraine for political purposes. Lots of Republicans were saying nasty things about Ukraine in 2019 and have now pretended like that never happened. Being hypocritical is part of being a politician and Both Sides™ do it. And then it’s entirely another thing to still be overtly pro-Putin, like Marjorie Taylor Greene or Madison Cawthorn, but we can chalk that up to their almost physically violent stupidity.
But Tucker carrying water for Assad - a dictator who has aligned himself with Putin - and Russia at the same time is just really weird. Couple that with Carlson’s repeated anti-vaxx statements, and it’s almost like he’s deliberately trying to be anti-American. One of the weirdest things Tucker did happened a few weeks ago, but it’s highly relevant here: He revived the Seth Rich story from a few years ago in order to cast doubt on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Here’s a quick refresher if you are a normal person: Seth Rich was a DNC staffer who was murdered in D.C. in 2016, and his death immediately became a breeding ground for conspiracy theories. The “story” was that Rich had copies of the DNC emails and gave them to Wikileaks, and because of that, the Clinton Campaign had him murdered. I wrote about this back in 2017 and tried to distill it down into simple terms:
The key part of that Tweet is, “If Seth was wiki source, no Trump/Russia collusion.” Leaving aside the almost hilarious inaccuracy of that statement, it is a candid admission of something that plagues a huge portion of conservative media: Complete denial of any Russian interference in the 2016 election is necessary so any investigation into potential wrongdoing between Trump’s campaign and Russia can be dismissed (my emphasis).
The Rich conspiracy theory was debunked pretty early on, but the Mueller Report put the final nail in it, as they highlighted conversations in which Wikileaks’s founder - Julian Assange - admitted that he knew the DNC emails were from Russian intelligence.
In his show, Tucker matter-of-factly repeats the Seth Rich conspiracy theory and asserts it as true, despite the fact that Fox News was sued by Rich’s family and asked to stop airing it. Here’s Tucker:
[The Russians hacking the severs at the DNC] was not true. It has never been true. The DNC emails were very clearly stolen from within the building, most likely by a Bernie Sanders supporter who wanted to show the world how Bernie Sanders was being shafted by the very same corrupt forces in Washington that later shafted Donald Trump.
It’s almost impressive how Tucker just casually tells a blatant lie to his audience, and that has to be pretty frustrating for people who have relatives that enjoy Tucker’s show. To summarize all his propaganda over the past few years:
He endorsed the “Ukrainian biolabs” misinformation from Russia.
He endorsed the Seth Rich conspiracy misinformation from Russia.
He endorsed the Ukraine is corrupt misinformation from Russia.
He endorsed the Assad never used chemical weapons misinformation from Russia.
He is a fully vaccinated anti-vaxxer, who almost seems comfortable getting his viewers killed by COVID.
Given that Tucker lies so blatantly, and his alliances don’t really seem to be with America, I think it’s time for us to stop fact-checking and start trolling. I believe the only plausible explanation for Tucker’s actions is that Vladimir Putin has a tape of Carlson performing lewd acts on Nick Fuentes. I think we should all keep raising this scenario until Carlson can debunk it, and say it as plainly as he says that we “know” Seth Rich is the source of the DNC emails. If Tucker is going to lie, why can’t we?
So, there is a pee tape of Tucker Carlson, Putin has it, and is holding it over Tucker’s head so that he spews pro-Kremlin propaganda on his show every night. Everyone knows this, and it’s time for Fox News to act.
That was fun. Let’s do some Should-Reads.
Cathy Young does a deep dive into all the Nazis in Ukraine.
Eliot Cohen says America’s hesitation in Ukraine is heartbreaking.
This is absolutely wonderful read on how a small Ukrainian continent absolutely humiliated Russia.
The GOP plays forgetful regarding Trump’s first impeachment.
The NY Times Editorial Board admits that America has a free speech problem.
There is a red state murder problem. Seriously.
Why we should have all listened to Garry Kasparov.
Have a great weekend my habibis. See you next week.