“Useful idiot.” Merriam-Webster defines the term, first coined by former Soviet Union Premier Vladimir Lenin, as “a naive or credulous person who can be manipulated or exploited to advance a cause or political agenda.” Given his recent spate of baseless conspiracy theories, the term perfectly describes Tucker Carlson.
Last week the Fox talker suggested that the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol could have been the work of the FBI, rather than an attempt by a Donald Trump-incited mob to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election that made Joe Biden president. By feeding that red meat to his audience Carlson plays into the hands of adversaries who would like nothing more than to undermine the United States democracy. It has become a pattern with the frozen fish stick heir.
Shortly after President Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tucker perfectly parroted other Russian disinformation points about the Jan. 6 riot when he questioned the circumstances under which a U.S. Capitol Police officer shot and killed Ashli Babbit as she tried to climb through a broken window and onto the floor of the House of Representatives.
In early June Russian state TV propagandists were boldly upfront about how they expected Putin to respond if Biden were to bring up the imprisonment of Russian dissident Alexy Navalny. “[Biden] is planning to tell us about Navalny and we will tell him about the woman shot on January 6 at the Capitol,” explained Olga Skabeeva, the host of state TV show “60 Minutes”, on June 1. Ten days later, Putin did exactly that in his interview with NBC correspondent Kier Simmons.
“Did you order the assassination of the woman who walked into Congress and who was shot and killed by a policeman?” Putin shot back to Simmons when asked about Navalny. Putin reiterated the talking point at his post-summit news conference, saying, “About my opponents being jailed or imprisoned. People went into the U.S. Congress with political demands. Four hundred people now facing criminal charges… On what grounds? Not quite clear… One of the participants, a woman, was shot dead on the spot. She was not threatening anything.”
Never one to pass up an opportunity to criticize Biden, Carlson played a clip of Putin’s comments on his show and expressed his agreement. Carlson said, “Now, under normal circumstances, we would never play tape of a foreign adversary criticizing our government. But honestly, those are fair questions.” Without a hint of irony, he added, “Vladimir Putin knows authoritarian systems very well, and he sees clearly what is happening in this country.”
During his nightly show over the weekend, Russian TV host Vladimir Soloviev did everything but use the term “useful idiot” as he proudly gloated, “Putin knew whom he was talking to and his message was heard. This is Fox News and its very popular program – one of its highest-rated programs. Republicans listened and couldn’t help but agree … Putin was heard and what he said hit the bullseye.”