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The American far-right's Russian embrace

Tucker Carlson poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio, in New York, Thursday, March 2, 2107. (Richard Drew/AP)
Tucker Carlson poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio, in New York, Thursday, March 2, 2107. (Richard Drew/AP)

Some of the loudest voices trumpeting the Russian government’s line right now are in the United States — on the far-right and on TV.

Example: Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov says the U.S. is helping Ukraine develop bioweapons.

“Those laboratories are created by the United States all over the world. Ukraine is probably the biggest project for the Pentagon,” Lavrov said.

Then, Tucker Carlson picks it up.

“Secret biolabs? Like the secret biolabs Ukraine definitely doesn’t have? Ukraine has those? Yes, it does,” Carlson said.

Journalism fact checks and formal denials from the United States government make no difference. Influential voices on the far-right still say:

“They reported that this story about these bio research facilities in Ukraine was a conspiracy theory. When USA Today and Snopes say it’s … a hoax, you almost know it’s true,” Dan Bongino said.

Today, On Point: The American far-right and its tight Russian embrace.


Jason Blazakis, senior research fellow at the Soufan Center, a non-profit research center. Director of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies’ Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism. (@Jason_Blazakis)

Natalia Antelava, editor-in-chief of the online news platform Coda Story, which focuses on disinformation and authoritarian technologies. She writes the weekly newsletter Disinfo Matters. (@antelava)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

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Jessica Brandt, policy director for the Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology Initiative at the Brookings Institution. (@jessbrandt)

Related Reading

Coda Story: “Russian State TV replaces entertainment with war propaganda” — “Disinfo Matters is a weekly newsletter that looks beyond fake news to examine how manipulation of narratives, rewriting of history and altering our memories is reshaping our world. We are currently tracking the war in Ukraine. Also in this edition: we look at disinformation networks beyond Western bubbles and pups for Putin.”

Brookings: “Popular podcasters spread Russian disinformation about Ukraine biolabs” — “In recent weeks, Russian officials and state media have seized on a fresh piece of disinformation to justify the invasion of Ukraine: that the United States is funding the development of dangerous biological weapons in Ukraine. This claim, which has no basis in fact, has not been confined to Kremlin propaganda. Popular podcasters in the United States have repeated and promoted it for their own purposes.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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