Ukrainian Americans should be appalled by the statement made by television personality Tucker Carlson during his November 26 broadcast on the Fox network when he stated: “Why do I care what’s going on in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia? And why shouldn’t I root for Russia, which I am.”
Mr. Carlson later walked back this comment (weakly and unconvincingly) as a “joke.” This too is inexcusable. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is no joking matter. Its 2014 invasion of Ukraine’s Donbas region has caused the deaths of 13,000 people, wounded thousands more and forced more than 1.3 million people from their homes. Mr. Carlson’s shameful ignorance and callous disregard for the human cost of this war is outrageous. It should provoke us to action.
Since Fox claims to provide “fair and balanced” coverage of important world issues, we should demand that Fox News and other networks devote a specific and significant amount of airtime to current events in Ukraine. Five hours of prime time coverage would not be too much to ask. We should insist on thorough exposure of Russia’s campaign of genocide against Ukrainians dating back to Stalin’s purges, including the Holodomor of 1932-1933. Fox should also highlight Russia’s persecution of the Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches, as well as its persecution of Crimean Tatars and other religious minorities. This should all be presented in the context of Vladimir Putin’s ongoing campaign to whitewash Stalin’s legacy and to revive Stalinism as a palatable ideology.
While Mr. Putin continues to smear the Maidan as a “fascist coup,” he himself is financing neo-fascist parties in Western Europe in an attempt to destabilize Western democracies. It would not hurt American news networks to balance this disinformation by highlighting the vibrant civil society in Ukraine, its spiritual and cultural diversity, and the serious reform efforts that Ukrainians have launched since the Revolution of Dignity in 2014.
Russia has invested vast amounts of money on global disinformation and cyberwarfare, so we should warn Fox not to be deceived by RT’s brand of fake news. Any feature on Ukraine should be based on extensive interviews not with demagogues and bloviating “talking heads,” but with reputable experts and insightful Ukraine scholars, including Timothy Snyder, Anne Applebaum, Ambassador John Herbst, Serhii Plokhy, and former Soviet political prisoner and renowned author Myroslav Marynovych.
Clearly, Fox viewers and American voters need to be enlightened about Ukraine’s crucial strategic importance to the United States, its heroic struggle to maintain its independence, and its commitment to resist Russian aggression and tyranny. It would be highly appropriate for Mr. Carlson and other Fox hosts to receive a nasty earful, especially from loyal Fox viewers and irate Twitter followers: @TuckerCarlson.