Newsmax host: Is left-wing Fox News pressuring Tucker Carlson to be soft on Russia?

This is a leftover from last week but worth sharing belatedly, as it made me laugh.

If this were any other network, I’d assume Grant Stinchfield was being sly by framing his criticism the way he does. Blaming Fox’s supposedly leftist management for Tucker’s Russia apologias plays like a satire of populist paranoia, in which the populist Carlson is himself accused of being a catspaw for some shadowy elite eager to promote a secret anti-American agenda.

But this isn’t satire. Stinchfield goes out of his way to say how much he respects Tucker, apparently earnestly, despite accusing him in the same breath of being a shill for his bosses willing to mouth loathsome opinions he doesn’t hold if the price is right. What he’s trying to do here, I think, is create a permission structure for Newsmax viewers to disagree with Carlson’s view of who the bad guy is in U.S.-Russia relations. He can’t go at Tucker directly since Tucker’s a bigger fish in righty media; the Newsmax audience will treat that conflict as a test of populist credibility between Carlson and Stinchfield and the bigger fish wins that fight.

If Stinchfield reframes it as a test of credibility between himself and Fox’s RINO executives, though, then Newsmax’s viewers might be willing to hear him out. Loyalty is everything within the MAGA-fied right. Populist activists are more loyal to Carlson than to Stinchfield but more loyal to Stinchfield than they are to the people who called Arizona early for Joe Biden on election night and sent them scrambling to find a “real” conservative news network. So Stinchfield is choosing his enemy here wisely.

Watch the intro.

I’m intrigued by his hypothesis that leftists might be pressuring Carlson to push pro-Russia talking points. We just spent five years watching Democrats howl about Russians under the bed as a theory for every new Trump machination. Consider the possibility, Grant, that the modern American right is more sympathetic to a “strong” revanchist authoritarian ruler like Putin than the left is and that Carlson is articulating those sympathies from a place of sincerity.

Ironically, Stinchfield’s attack on Tucker is reminiscent of hawks accusing doves during the Cold War of harboring Soviet sympathies. Except harboring Russian sympathies is no longer problematic among Republicans; what’s problematic is harboring sympathies for Fox News’s management. You can still float dark conspiracies involving Russia in 2021 just as long the ultimate puppetmaster is Rupert Murdoch, not the Kremlin.

Anyway, no, contra Tucker, NATO doesn’t exist to “torment” poor Vladimir Putin. NATO exists because an alliance was needed to prevent Soviet expansion into Europe doing the Cold War and it survives due to sheer “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” inertia. It’s true that western Europe is now at low risk of conquest by Russia but it’s even truer that Russia is at no risk of conquest by western Europe, a threat it’s faced a few times in the last 200+ years. To those who say Putin feels pressure on his western border: Pressure from what, exactly?

The country with the world’s largest nuclear arsenal won’t have its access to the Black Sea yanked away by a coalition of nations that are either exhausted from warfighting (the U.S.) or completely disinclined to start (Europe). Putin wants Ukraine back for irredentist reasons, because he regrets that Russia no longer enjoys the prestige of having an empire and aims to show that it’s still a formidable power. Stinchfield may be a Trumpified populist but he retains enough of his Cold-War-era moral bearings to grasp which side in this dispute is more of an expansionist threat.

The most Ukraine’s going to get from the west if Russia invades is weapons, not a military alliance. The White House is reportedly mulling that over.

The Biden administration is studying whether and how the United States could support an anti-Russian insurgency inside Ukraine if President Vladimir Putin invades that country and seizes substantial territory.

The weapons the United States might provide include shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles. The CIA’s delivery of such weapons, known at the time as “Stingers,” had a devastating effect on Soviet forces during their 10-year war in Afghanistan, from 1979 to 1989.

The administration task force, which includes the CIA and other key agencies, has been studying how insurgencies were organized against the Soviets in Afghanistan and Russian-backed forces in Syria — and also against the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s an ironic example of turning the tables, weighing whether and how to inflict harm similar to what U.S. forces have suffered in recent years…

In military terms, the Ukrainian army isn’t a match for Russian troops, but it’s 50 percent larger than the force Ukraine had in 2014, when Russia seized Crimea. In addition, sources said that about 500,000 Ukrainians have had some militia training since 2014, and that at least a million weapons are in private hands.

It worked for us in Afghanistan. It worked against us in Afghanistan. It’s the same logic as the Second Amendment: An armed populace is one that a tyrant will think twice about trying to oppress.

I can’t wait for Tucker’s monologue about the supposed threat of Ukrainian militiamen armed with American pistols and Stinger missiles ultimately marching on Moscow. Who knows what crazy Kremlin agitprop Fox’s progressive brain trust will force him to say next.

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