Don’t give shameless pro-Putin Republicans the attention they crave

David Pakman
Liberal Opinion

David Pakman

Host of The David Pakman Show
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Russia and Ukraine held peace talks this week in Istanbul that some say offered optimism for a possible end to the bloody month-long war. It will be interesting to see what some of the most prominent Republican voices in the country, like Tucker Carlson and former President Donald Trump, have to say about it.

I specifically mentioned those two because they are the two most influential voices in the conservative movement, and both have taken the stance of supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin since he ordered his military into Ukraine unprovoked.

You may not have noticed if you make the sensible choice and do not watch Fox News or other right-wing propaganda outlets like Newsmax, but don’t worry. I keep an eye on the conservative echo chambers so you don’t have to. And early on, Tucker praised Putin. Even well before the invasion occurred, the host of Fox News’ most popular show said he was on Putin’s side in any conflict with Ukraine.

Trump called Putin ‘smart’ for invading Ukraine, on more than one occasion. He’s actually been singing Putin’s praises for quite some time. But things started to change once it became clear they, along with others like Tulsi Gabbard, were on the wrong side of this international situation. Public sentiment is overwhelmingly in favor of Ukraine, and that country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has become something of a global hero for his war-time leadership. The consensus is that Putin overplayed his hand with the invasion, and left Russia on an island.

So what did these right-wing propagandists do? They switched the script.

One way has been to focus on supposed bioweapons labs in Ukraine, supported by the United States. 

And often with these, what makes these conspiracy theories so pernicious and so sticky is that there’s a kernel of truth. And I’ll tell you what that is. We, we shouldn’t deny that there’s a kernel of truth. 

Are there biolabs in Ukraine that research dangerous pathogens and how to respond to a bioweapons attack? Yes, there are. They are there. Are they unique to Ukraine? No, they’re all over Europe. They’re all over the world. 

Are they supported by an American program through the Department of Defense? Yes. Not unique to Ukraine either. 

Do they justify Putin’s invasion? Of course not.

They’re not trying to justify it–not really. They want to change the conversation and pretend to their audience that what they actually said before is just liberal spin. The worst part of it isn’t the dishonesty of it all. It’s that it is all simply a clickbait scheme. They’re out for attention, views, and clicks. As I’ve said before, the Republican Party no longer has a platform other than to “own the libs.”

The support of Putin and his vicious campaign in Ukraine may be the worst instance yet.

So early in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we saw much closer to full throated defenses of Vladimir Putin. 

Stuff like why wouldn’t he respond to aggression the way he’s responding and really bordering on praise of Putin.

 We even, we, we saw it from Fox news’ Tucker Carlson. We saw it early from Donald Trump saying things like Putin’s genius, savvy, and smart for taking some great land. Who wouldn’t want that land? 

This did not go well. And I think that many people underestimated, myself included, the degree to which essentially the world, 99% of the world, would unite behind Ukraine. 

Now Ukraine is not a perfect country. Ukraine has issues with corruption, and Russia has more issues with corruption. Ukraine has issues with hate crimes. Russia has more issues. 

Uh, that being said, either way, those would not be justifications for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but if you wanna play the freedom and democracy game, in every serious democracy index, Ukraine scores way higher than Russia. But either way, Ukraine is Ukraine and its borders should be respected.

So what this has led to has been a sort of two steps back on the full throated defenses of, uh, uh, of Vladimir Putin from people like Tucker Carlson and, uh, and, and Tulsi Gabbard and others. 

But instead they’ve started sort of softly justifying or minimizing the degree to which Putin’s behavior is completely unacceptable. 

And they do this a few different ways. 

One way has been to focus on supposed bio weapons labs in Ukraine, supported by the United States. 

And often with these, what makes these conspiracy theories so pernicious and so sticky is that there’s a kernel of truth. And I’ll tell you what that is. We, we shouldn’t deny that there’s a kernel of truth. 

Are there biolabs in Ukraine that research dangerous pathogens and how to respond to a bioweapons attack? Yes, there are. They they’re there. 

are they unique to Ukraine?

No, they’re all over Europe. They’re all over the world. 

Are they supported by an American program through the Department of Defense? Yes. Not unique to Ukraine either. 

Do they justify Putin’s invasion? Of course not. Of course not. And further there is nothing particularly pernicious about them. There are some like Tulsi Gabbard who have said, we’ve gotta shut down all of these labs, which seems outrageous. We’re going to let the people making the bio weapons keep making the bio weapons, but we’re not going to have labs that would research what to do in the case of a bio weapons attack? That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, but it’s all meant to sew doubt about, well, maybe Putin’s not quite so bad?

Tucker Carlson has been doing this. Tucker Carlson has also hosted people like a UFC fighter named Bryce Mitchell, who admittedly said during a UFC press conference, I don’t know what’s going on in Russia and Ukraine.

And then went on to give his opinion about it. Despite saying he doesn’t know anything about it. 

Tucker hosted Bryce Mitchell to again, softly promote the idea that it’s certainly not worth Americans going over to fight in Ukraine to defend it against Russia. 

Now, again, that’s a completely reasonable position to have. I want Joe Biden to stand by his promise that there will not be boots on the ground in Ukraine. 

I don’t want the US involved in that way in another military conflict. So there’s nothing wrong with saying I wouldn’t go and fight to defend Ukraine, but no one’s asking him to. And it’s another soft way to say it’s not really that worth fighting for Ukraine. 

These are soft ways of either fomenting or repeating Russian propaganda or minimizing the value of Ukraine and its borders. 

When these are a lot of the very same people that when it comes to the United States and the US- Mexico border say the defense of that border is the number one most important thing we could possibly do. That No matter what else is happening in the us or in Mexico, that border must be defended at all costs.

It is a sovereign and sacred border, but when it comes to Russia and Ukraine, it’s like, well, Ukraine’s not that democratic, and it’s not really that worth defending and there’s dangerous biolabs anyway. So this is a form of soft pro-Putin propaganda. 

Now, do I think these are literal pro Putin propagandists who love Putin?

No, I think many of these people are essentially, uh, reactionary, contrarians who feel out what’s going to get me attention and what’s going to get me clicks, and I’m not gonna name every single one of them, but many of them have seen diminished public profiles and less attention paid to them. 

And so they feel around and if the contrarian opinion they can take is about vaccines, they’ll do it.  And if the contrarian position they can take about Ukraine is what will get them the attention they will do that. 

They shouldn’t be paid attention to other than to understand what it is they’re doing.


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