On March 3, as Russian military forces bombed Ukrainian cities as part of Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of his neighbor, the Kremlin sent out talking points to state-friendly media outlets with a request: Use more Tucker Carlson.
“It is essential to use as much as possible fragments of broadcasts of the popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who sharply criticizes the actions of the United States [and] NATO, their negative role in unleashing the conflict in Ukraine, [and] the defiantly provocative behavior from the leadership of the Western countries and NATO towards the Russian Federation and towards President Putin, personally,” advises the 12-page document written in Russian. It sums up Carlson’s position: “Russia is only protecting its interests and security.” The memo includes a quote from Carlson: “And how would the US behave if such a situation developed in neighboring Mexico or Canada?”
The document—titled “For Media and Commentators (recommendations for coverage of events as of 03.03)”—was produced, according to its metadata, at a Russian government agency called the Department of Information and Telecommunications Support, which is part of the Russian security apparatus. It was provided to Mother Jones by a contributor to a national Russian media outlet who asked not to be identified. The source said memos like this one have been regularly sent by Putin’s administration to media organizations during the war. Independent media outlets in Russia have been forced to shut down since the start of the conflict.
The March 3 document opens with top-line themes the Kremlin wanted Russian media to spread: The Russian invasion is “preventing the possibility of nuclear strikes on its territory”; Ukraine has a history of nationalism (that presumably threatens Russia); the Russian military operation is proceeding as planned; Putin is protecting all Russians; the “losing” Ukrainian army is shelling residential areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia; foreign mercenaries are arriving in Ukraine; Europe “is facing more and more problems” because of its own sanctions; and there will be “danger and possible legal consequences” for those in Russia who protest the war. The document notes that it is “necessary to continue quoting” Putin. It claims that the “hysteria of the West had reached the inexplicable level” of people calling for killing dogs and cats from Russia and asks, “Today they call for the killing of animals from Russia. Tomorrow, will they call for killing people from Russia?”
A section headlined “Victory in Information War” tells Russian journalists to push these specific points: The Ukrainian military is beginning to collapse; the Kyiv government is guilty of “war crimes”; and Moscow is the target of a “massive Western anti-Russian propaganda” operation. It states that Russian media should raise questions about Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s state of mind and suggest he is not truly in charge of Ukraine. And it encourages these outlets to “broadcast messages” highlighting the law recently passed by the Russia Duma that makes it a crime to impede the war effort or disseminate what the government deems “false” information about the war, punishable for up to 15 years in prison. This portion instructs Russian journalists to emphasize that these penalties apply to anyone who promotes news about Ukrainian military victories or Russian attacks on civilian targets.
This is the section of the memo that calls on Russian media to make as much use as possible of Tucker Carlson’s broadcasts. No other Western journalist is referenced in the memo.
Mother Jones is not posting the full document to protect the source of the material. Here are photos of the memo. The first shows the opening page; the next displays the paragraph citing Carlson.