- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Monday that the U.S. “should probably take the side of Russia,” coming to the defense of the country’s autocratic leader and condemning other American broadcasters for doing the opposite.

The conservative commentator and host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” said during the latest episode of his prime time opinion program that he believes the U.S. should back Russia rather than Ukraine in the ongoing territorial conflict between the two former Soviet states, doubling-down a week after saying he was rooting for Russia prior to claiming he was “only joking.”

“I think we should probably take the side of Russia if we have to choose between Russia and Ukraine,” Mr. Carlson said Monday night. “That is my view.”

Mr. Carlson made a similar remark a week earlier before walking that comment back later during the broadcast.

“I noted, I was rooting for Russia in the contest between Russia and Ukraine,” Mr. Carlson said last week. “Of course I’m joking, I’m only rooting for America.”

More recently, Mr. Carlson spent a portion of this Monday’s program taking aim at fellow cable news personalities — namely MSNBC host Chuck Todd, among others – for their criticisms of Russian President Vladimir Putin and individuals accused of aiding his agenda.

“For Chuck Todd and the rest of the dummies, Vladimir Putin isn’t a real person with actual ideas and priorities and a country and beliefs. No, he stopped being that long ago. He’s a metaphor, a living metaphor, he’s the Boogeyman,” said Mr. Carlson.

“The irony, of course, is that Putin, for all his faults, does not hate America as much as many of these people do. They really dislike our country. And they call other people traitors? ‘Cause they’re mouthing the talking points of Putin. These are people who don’t know anything about Russia, who don’t speak Russian. Who couldn’t identify three cities in Russia. The rest of the world isn’t quite that dumb, as dumb as that may be, not quite that dumb.”

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the Russian government waged a multifaceted attack targeting the 2016 U.S. presidential race and particularly the campaign of former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Senators have since been briefed by U.S. intelligence officials that Russia has been behind efforts to blame Ukraine for interfering in the election, The New York Times reported last week.

Mr. Carlson made the remark about Mr. Todd in light of the latter recently accusing Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, of propagating a conspiracy theory that purports Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“You realize, the only other person selling this argument outside the United States is this man, Vladimir Putin,” Mr. Todd told the senator on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”

Responding on his Fox News program, Mr. Carlson called Mr. Todd a “mouth-breather” and compared him to the late Sen. Joe McCarthy made infamous for accusing Americans of being communists.

Mr. Todd did not immediately respond publicly to Mr. Carlson’s critique.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and has been supporting separatists groups in the country for nearly five years in an ongoing war that has claimed more than 13,000 lives, according to the United Nations. Congress is currently considering whether to impeach President Trump in connection with his administration withholding military assistance from Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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