An episode of American journalist Tucker Carlson’s show appeared on the Russian State TV channel Rossiya 24 on Monday, May 21. The appearance was categorized by several Russian and Ukrainian mainstream and social media as the launch of a regular program to be hosted by the controversial political commentator.

The “Tucker: Rossiya 24” show was said to be a new joint project between Carlson’s existing YouTube channel and the state broadcaster. In the first episode, the journalist spoke with an expert about the problem of ticks and Lyme disease.

In early 2023 Carlson, once known as the “the most influential conservative in America,” left the Fox News channel after almost eight years as the host of a political show that had more than three million viewers.

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In February, he interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin, which caused much derision because of the way Carlson left most of the Russian leader’s outrageous pronouncements unchallenged. He later argued that the broadcast had been edited by the Russian authorities to remove his “harder questioning.”

Shortly after the Putin interview, Carlson appeared on Lex Fridman’s YouTube podcast and said that he found Russia’s reasons for invading Ukraine “the most stupid thing [he] had ever heard… denazification… [was] the most stupid and unconvincing argument you could ever come up with.”

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An investigation into Carlson’s alleged new Russian TV show by the Ukrainian news site InfoLight.ua, citing the Russian website smotrim.ru, found that Rossiya 24 had in fact been rebroadcasting his YouTube interviews and commentary, dubbed into Russian, since last September.

Screenshot: smotrim.ru listings of Rossiya 24 Tucker shows starting in September 2023

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The US investigative site the Daily Beast also found that the May 21 show on Lyme disease that got everyone so excited, rather than being a new transmission, was a rerun of a May 10 YouTube post.

Tucker Carlson’s representatives were quick to deny the claims that Carlson had launched such a show, telling Forbes that the reports linking him with Russian state TV were “pure nonsense.”

Carlson himself told CNN: “It’s all fake obviously, like most stories in American news media. Of course, I have no partnership with Russia. The first I’d heard anything about this was (this) morning.”

Neil Patel, CEO of the Tucker Carlson Network, said in a post on X that the network “has not done any deals with state media in any country,” and criticized Newsweek for publishing the story without checking with him and his team.

On Tuesday afternoon Rossiya 24 was still advertising more than eight clips of the “Tucker: Rossiya 24” show, in which they said Carlson was an outspoken critic of the US authorities and had been added to Moscow’s database of “the enemies of Ukraine.”

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Questions are now being asked about the intention behind reporting Carlson’s links with Rossiya 24.

Some commentators are certain it is a disinformation exercise. But against whom? Is it an attempt at revenge against Carlson after his negative comments about Putin once the American returned from Russia?

InfoLight.ua suggests it is just an attempt by Russian special services to take advantage of Carlson’s international notoriety to put pressure on the morale of Ukrainians.

Others suspect there might be some truth to the suggested links between Carlson and Russia, but seeing how poorly the news has been received, he and his people are trying to distance themselves from the plan.

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