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Western Leaders Need to Engage Tucker Carlson and Russian Propaganda

Western leaders continue to ignore anti-Ukrainian viewpoints in the West creating a stronger echo chamber against their policies.

While President Putin gave a two-hour lecture on why Russia is committed to its actions against Ukraine, President Biden stayed silent and EU leaders were considering sanctioning Tucker Carlson for interviewing with the Russian president.

Only views such as those held by National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby, were made to provide a rebuttal that discussed why American people should not trust President Putin, reiterating that Russia invaded Ukraine without provocation. However, none of President Putin’s points from the interview were addressed by Kirby or others. 

This was a missed opportunity for Ukraine and the West to counter President Putin's allegations to delegitimize Russia and its propaganda. Instead, by not engaging with Tucker Carlson or the interview’s claims, the West and Ukraine have yielded a victory to President Putin and the anti-Ukraine circles. This is because most Western leaders have continued to try to delegitimize Russia and its claims through the use of emotions (pathos) and trust (ethos), similar to John Kirby’s rebuttal. 

The pathos and ethos appeal has worked to convince a majority of the Western world to side with Ukraine, but it continues to fail to convince the anti-Ukraine crowd, whose support is crucial. This is especially important in the U.S., which despite being the largest supporter of Ukraine’s efforts, also has one of the largest anti-Ukrainian crowds.

This crowd is strongest in the conservative right among Donald Trump’s supporters, forming its most influential members. Therefore, if former President Trump wins the 2024 election, further Ukrainian support is unlikely to come from the U.S. To address this, Western leaders must try to convince this group rather than those who already agree with them.

To do so, Western leaders must engage with anti-Ukrainian conservative sources and their assumptions. 

The anti-Ukrainian right believes the U.S. and West provoked and instigated the war through CIA-backed revolutions and NATO expansion. They also believe that the West's refusal to negotiate with Russia makes them complicit in Ukrainian killings and is prolonging the war. These views were expressed by President Putin in his two-hour interview and could easily be contested on Tucker Carlson’s channel in future interviews if Western leaders would engage this sector of the conservative right.

Hence, logic (logos) needs to be used in the argument against Russian propaganda. Ukrainian supporters can aid this effort by appearing on shows like Tucker Carlson’s to discuss these very topics. The pro-Ukrainian Western world cannot appeal to its opposition through pathos and ethos when they view Western institutions as causing suffering and as untrustworthy. They also cannot appeal to the opposition without appearing on media the opposition watch.

The use of logic and engagement were on full display this week on social media where social commentators discussed claims by Tucker Carlson which has aided the U.S. and West in their support.

For example, Tucker Carlson visited a Moscow grocery store and bragged about the lower prices alluding to how much better Russia’s leadership is and portraying Western leadership as “abandoning its citizens” by supporting others like Ukraine, leading to inflation.

Rebuttals came in to dispel this myth by showing that while it is true prices are cheaper in Russia, Russians have immensely less income, and thus spend more on food in relation to their earnings compared to Americans, effectively making groceries more expensive for Russians in Russia. Now, imagine taking that evidence to the Tucker Carlson show to display for his viewers. 

Another claim made by Tucker Carlson this week was that Russian cities like Moscow are much nicer than American cities, again alluding to the idea that U.S. leaders care more about Ukraine than about helping their own people, unlike Russia.

Commentators once again were quick to point out that while Moscow is nice and advanced, most Russian cities are poor and lack modern amenities, proving that American cities tend to be nicer across the board. 

People who followed the discussions were quick to view the U.S. camp as victors in this propaganda battle showing why Western leaders need to engage in these pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian debates because they truly can gain support for Western causes.

However, if Western leaders continue to ignore these debates, they will continue to see growing anti-Ukrainian sentiments. 

Thus, these leaders need to engage people like Tucker Carlson or risk losing support for Ukraine if President Trump wins the 2024 election. 


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.

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