Some Right-Wing Nuts Claim Trump & Putin Are Working On The War Together & That That's A Good Thing

I've seen Fox segments on YouTube; I have even embedded a few of them here at DWT. But I don't know where Fox is on my TV set and usually the only way I know what's going on over there is because John Amato has a TV set in all dozen or so rooms in his house and all are blaring Fox 24/7. He tells me what they're up to now and then. This week, however, L.A. Times media critic Lorraine Ali was covering a Fox story that actually interests me-- just how overtly Fox hosts and Russia have jumped into bed with each other. It's kind of stunning and sure would have never been predictable when Australian Nazi Rupert Murdoch gave American Nazi Roger Ailes a free hand in setting up his media property as America's fascist news network in the late 1990s.

Ali wrote yesterday that "The conflict in Ukraine and backpedaling were the main themes of Tucker Carlson’s show Thursday after the Fox News host was slammed for defending Russian President Vladimir Putin, and dragging U.S. President Joe Biden, in the lead-up to Russia’s invasion of the Eastern European nation. 'I don’t think anybody approves of what Putin did yesterday,' he said. 'I certainly don’t.'" He doesn't? That must be news to hundreds of thousands of Fox's elderly viewers. In fact, wrote Ali, "That wasn’t the note he sounded 24 hours earlier, just before tanks rolled over the border between Ukraine and Belarus, bombs detonated over the capital, Kyiv, and families sought shelter in underground subway stations. As on-scene reporters stressed the gravity of the situation, and American media outlets reacted with equal solemnity, one notable exception emerged: Fox News. As Putin started a war, the conservative news outlet‘s top talent sympathized with the former KGB agent-turned-despot over the U.S. and its allies-- a stunning move even for the network that provided a megaphone for Trump’s Big Lie about a 'rigged' election. But on Wednesday, any expectation that Carlson and Fox News colleague Laura Ingraham would tone down the pro-Putin disinformation they’d been feeding their viewers quickly evaporated. Instead, Carlson used Wednesday’s show to wave the flag not for the U.S. or its suffering ally Ukraine, but for Putin. Questioning why we should hate the autocratic and isolated Russian ruler, the Tucker Carlson Tonight host discounted Ukraine as 'a pure client state of the United States State Department.'"

That same evening, Ingraham blamed the conflict on the “weakness and the incompetence” of the Biden administration, a position echoed by a number of Republican elected officials, and called Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky's desperate appeal for Putin to stop the attack a “pathetic display.” You read that correctly. She was mocking a last-ditch effort to save lives and country.
Characterizing the Russian advance as a “border dispute,” Carlson preferred to lay blame on the opposition: Democrats had conditioned folks “to hate Putin,” he said, going so far as to urge his viewers to rethink their feelings about good ol’ Vlad: “Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years? Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity?”
The answer, to Carlson’s mind, is no. (Nothing, not even jailing antiwar protesters, is worse than submitting cable news hosts to criticism.) Which makes Putin the good guy and Biden the bad. And since Joe likes Ukraine, Fox News logic demands irrationally turning on your own country and supporting the enemy to ... own the libs?
Never mind the unprovoked attack was soon condemned by multiple heads of state, or that it prompted sanctions and sparked protests from Sydney to St. Petersburg. Carlson had all the footing he needed: Former President Donald Trump had already referred to Putin as a “genius” for his aggression in the region, just as he had spoken highly for years of the man whose meddling helped him into the White House.
By primetime Thursday, Carlson had changed his tune: “Vladimir Putin started this war,” he said. “He is to blame tonight for what we’re seeing tonight in the Ukraine.” Then he quickly pivoted. “The question is ... how should the United States respond to what he has done? Within minutes of the outbreak of the war last night the usual liars on television began leveraging this tragedy for partisan political gain ... it’s contemptible. But we’re going to ignore that tonight and talk about what matters.”
As much as Carlson wanted folks to ignore his previous week (OK, five years) of blowing kisses at Russia’s strongman, his love letters were scattered about social media. Russian state media reportedly aired his flattering commentary with subtitles to show Putin’s subjects how Americans really feel, as well as an article titled, “Tucker Carlson wonders why U.S. elites hate Putin.”
...As for reaction from inside the Kremlin? You’ll have to ask Carlson.

Yesterday, writing for the NY Times, Davey Alba and Stuart Thompson reported on how pro-Putin sentiment has spread across the right-wing media even beyond Fox. Generally speaking, it eminates from Señor Trumpanzee himself, sd ell sd from deranged fascists like Candace Owens, Stew Peters and Joe Oltmann, who most normal people have never heard of but who are worshipped by the neo-Nazi Hate America crowd. "[I]n Telegram groups like The Patriot Voice and Facebook groups including Texas for Donald Trump 2020," they wrote, "members criticized President Biden’s handling of the conflict and expressed support for Russia, with some saying they trusted Putin more than Biden. The online conversations reflect how pro-Russia sentiment has increasingly penetrated Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, right-wing podcasts, messaging apps like Telegram and some conservative media. As Russia attacked Ukraine this week, those views spread, infusing the online discourse over the war with sympathy-- and even approval-- for the aggressor."

The positive Russia comments are an extension of the culture wars and grievance politics that have animated the right in the United States in the past few years. In some of these circles, Putin carries a strongman appeal, viewed as someone who gets his way and does not let political correctness stop him.
“Putin embodies the strength that Trump pretended to have,” said Emerson Brooking, a resident senior fellow for the Atlantic Council who studies digital platforms. “For these individuals, Putin’s actions aren’t a tragedy — they’re a fantasy fulfilled.”
Support for Putin and Russia is now being expressed online in a jumble of facts, observations and opinions, sometimes entwined with lies. In recent days, commenters have complimented Putin and falsely accused NATO of violating nonexistent territorial agreements with Russia, which they said justified the Russian president’s declaration of war on Ukraine, according to a review of posts by the New York Times.
Others have spread convoluted conspiracy theories about the war that are tinged with a pro-Russia sheen. In one popular lie circulating online, Putin and Trump are working together on the war. Another falsehood involves the idea that the war is about taking down a cabal of global elites over sex trafficking.
In all, pro-Russian narratives on English-language social media, cable TV, and print and online outlets soared 2,580 percent in the past week compared to the first week of February, according to an analysis by the media insights company Zignal Labs. Those mentions cropped up 5,740 times in the past week, up from 214 in the first week of February, Zignal said.
The narratives have flourished in dozens of Telegram channels, Facebook groups and pages and thousands of tweets, according to The Times’s review. Some of the Telegram channels have more than 160,000 subscribers, while the Facebook groups and pages have up to 1.9 million followers.
...The pro-Russia sentiment is a stark departure from during the Cold War, when the Soviet Union was viewed by many Americans as a foe. In recent years, that attitude shifted, partly helped along by interference from Russia. Before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Kremlin-backed groups used social networks like Facebook to inflame American voters, creating more divisions and resistance to political correctness.
After Trump was elected, he often appeared favorable to-- and even admiring of-- Putin. That seeded a more positive view of Putin among Trump’s supporters, misinformation researchers said.
“Putin has invested heavily in sowing discord” and found an ally in Trump, said Melissa Ryan, the chief executive of Card Strategies, a consulting firm that researches disinformation. “Anyone who studies disinformation or the far right has seen the influence of Putin’s investment take hold.”
At the same time, conspiracy theories spread online that deeply polarized Americans. One was the QAnon movement, which falsely posits that Democrats are Satan-worshiping child traffickers who are part of an elite cabal trying to control the world.
The Russia-Ukraine war is now being viewed by some Americans through the lens of conspiracy theories, misinformation researchers said. Roughly 41 million Americans believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory, according to a survey released on Thursday from the Public Religion Research Institute. This week, some QAnon followers said online that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was simply the next phase in a global war against the sex traffickers.
Lisa Kaplan, the founder of Alethea Group, a company that helps fight online misinformation, said the pro-Russia statements were potentially harmful because it could “further legitimize false or misleading claims” about the Ukraine conflict “in the eyes of the American people.”
...[T]hose with a pro-Russia stance have gotten louder online. Before the invasion, the Gateway Pundit, a far-right website, published a story listing “fun facts” about Russia and Ukraine, including the Russian talking points that are being used as justification for an invasion. The article spread in Facebook groups that support Trump, reaching up to 565,100 followers, according to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned analytics tool.
On a podcast on Wednesday, Stephen Bannon, Trump’s former adviser, also praised Putin as “anti-woke.” He suggested the Ukrainian conflict was “not our fight.”
After Russia’s attack began, some online users explained Putin’s motives by blending them with conspiracy theories about Covid-19. One Twitter account named War Clandestine declared that Putin was targeting biolabs in Ukraine that were operated by the United States. The idea was made more believable, the author said, because of the conspiracy theory that the United States engineered Covid-19 at a lab in Wuhan, China.
...The growing appreciation for Putin was captured in recent polling from The Economist and YouGov, which showed he was viewed more favorably by Republicans than Biden. Another recent poll from Yahoo News and YouGov found that 62 percent of Republicans believed Putin was a “stronger leader” than Biden.
That sentiment was echoed in an informal poll online on Wednesday, when a QAnon influencer asked followers in the Patriot Voice group on Telegram if they trusted Putin. Nearly everyone who responded to the question said the same thing: yes.

Russia also warned Sweden that there would be "serious military and political consequences" if the traditionally neutral country joined NATO.