A reporter tried to get retired Admiral John Kirby to say that ousted Fox News host Tucker Carlson had been trafficking in pro-Russian propaganda until the network let him go on Monday.
Kirby, who is currently serving as the National Security Council’s Strategic Communications Coordinator, briefed reporters via Zoom on Wednesday — and Mediaite reporter Tommy Christopher used the time to attempt to tie Carlson to Russia.
Mentioning that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had already responded to the popular Fox News host’s ouster — calling the news “curious” and suggesting that Carlson was being silenced — Christopher asked Kirby to weigh in on his reaction.
“I also wanted to ask you about the reaction in Russia to the firing of Tucker Carlson. Russian state television called it a disgrace. The foreign minister seemed pretty disappointed as well,” Christopher began, adding, “I’m wondering if you have a reaction to their reaction, and if there’s like an equal and opposite reaction given the effect of the firing, possibly, on the spread of Russian propaganda here.”
“Those are two very different questions,” Kirby replied. He went on to say that he had not seen any of the reactions from Russian officials, but that even if he had, he would not have a comment on what they thought of Carlson’s exit.
“This was, this was obviously not a decision that we certainly had anything to do with. It’s for the network to see to. And we certainly wouldn’t weigh in one way or the other,” Kirby continued, adding that he had nothing to say about the development either.
“Like nothing, nothing about it?” Christopher tried again. “I mean, when he was on the air, he was spreading Russian propaganda. You don’t have any opinion on him not being able to do that now?”
Kirby shut the question down once more, saying, “Again, I think it’d be much, much better for us to simply let the network speak to their decision-making. We’re — well, I think I’m just going to leave it there. I think I’ll just leave it there.”
Christopher was not the only one to make that suggestion — largely based on Carlson’s repeated questioning of U.S. support for Ukraine in the ongoing conflict with Russia. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia (2012-2014) Michael McFaul implied it as well.
“Saying it out loud — Lavrov praises Tucker Carlson,” McFaul tweeted.
Saying it out loud — Lavrov praises Tucker Carlson. https://t.co/2BkNj17FZl
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) April 26, 2023
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” mentioned it as well, with both hosts and guests suggesting in a panel discussion that Carlson had “done the bidding” of Russia and China and asking why Lavrov had an opinion on his departure at all.
Why does Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, have an opinion on Tucker Carlson's Fox News departure? https://t.co/nKXG6bzIlB
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) April 26, 2023