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Russia’s flagship state news channel is advertising a new programme hosted by Tucker Carlson, apparently without the firebrand rightwing US TV host’s knowledge or consent.
Since last week, Rossiya 24 has run ads with a montage of Carlson repeatedly saying “Russia” and promising: “The high-profile American presenter is moving to another level. Here.”
The ad then cuts to a screen showing a logo: “TUCKER ROSSIYA 24.”
But Carlson told the Financial Times that he was unaware of the planned show, which Rossiya advertised on Friday as debuting “at the weekend”, according to BBC Monitoring.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve never heard of this, or the channel. Of course I’m not hosting a show on Russian television. That’s absurd. Please,” Carlson said in a text message.
“I’ve never seen this. I have no clue what it’s about. More Russia-related bullshit. There’s so much I can’t keep up,” he added.
Once among the highest-rated stars on conservative channel Fox News before he was fired in April, Carlson has since resumed hosting a show on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, criticised Fox’s decision at the time, saying: “Clearly the diversity of views in the American information space has suffered as a result.”
It is unclear whether Rossiya 24 was planning to rebroadcast Carlson’s show on X without authorisation or feature different content by the conservative host. A spokesperson for the channel told the FT to contact Carlson and did not respond to further requests for comment.
During the Russia-friendly presidency of Donald Trump, Carlson emerged as a favourite voice on Kremlin-run television, which regularly rebroadcast his comments dismissing allegations that Moscow had intervened in the US presidential election.
More recently, Carlson has echoed some Kremlin talking points on president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which he has described as “a regime-change war” led by the US against Russia.
He has also given credence to evidence-free Russian justifications for the invasion, such as claims that the US set up biological weapons research labs in Ukraine. Carlson has also accused the White House of involvement in blowing up the Nord Stream gas pipeline last year.
Those statements have found a welcome audience on Russian television, which has enthusiastically replayed them on its news programmes and the bellicose political talk shows that fill the country’s airwaves.
“We will be blamed, but they don’t even believe that in the US,” Vyacheslav Nikonov, a senior Russian lawmaker, said before showing a lengthy clip from Carlson’s show about Nord Stream last year. Artyom Sheinin, host of another prominent talk show, said Carlson was “reaching some interesting conclusions” in suspecting US involvement in the attack on the pipeline.
Carlson told the FT: “Since you run Russia coverage, who sabotaged Nord Stream? That seems like a story worth covering. I notice that no one does.”
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