Caitlin Johnstone: Smearing US Critics as ‘Russian Agents’

Here’s what imperial propagandists achieve by framing Fox News host Tucker Carlson and others as a treasonous foreign intelligence operative.

Consortium News Also Smeared 

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article:

Mass media pundits have recently insinuated or outright asserted that Fox News host Tucker Carlson is literally an agent of the Russian government.

Carlson, who is being made an example of, has been accused of promoting Russian propaganda by mainstream narrative managers for frequently criticizing the Biden administration’s hawkish posture toward Russia regarding the entirely unsubstantiated claim that Moscow is preparing to launch an unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine.

We’ve been seeing things like Anderson Cooper innocently musing that “It is striking how neatly Kremlin propaganda seems to dovetail with Carlson’s talking points” and this CNN segment from December with Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter and tinfoil hat Russiagater Julia Ioffe wondering aloud about why Russian state media seem to be so fond of Carlson.

By mid-January, Democratic Party operatives were openly demanding that Carlson be investigated for violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

“This isn’t journalism, it’s an ongoing FARA violation. Tucker Carlson needs to be prosecuted as an unregistered agent of the Russian Federation and treason under Article 3, Sec. 3, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution for aiding an enemy in hybrid warfare against the United States,” tweeted former DNC official Alexandra Chalupa, best known for colluding with the Ukrainian government in 2016 on opposition research against Donald Trump.

The accusations and insinuations increased, eventually leading to Carlson outright denying being a Russian agent in a recent interview with The New York Times saying,

“I’ve never been to Russia, I don’t speak Russian. Of course I’m not an agent of Russia.”

Spinning the Denial

As you would expect, this denial was then spun by the same demented mainstream pundits who’ve spent the last five years being wrong about Russia as evidence that Carlson is a Russian agent.

“Tucker Carlson told The New York Times he’s not a Russian agent amid controversy over his pro-Kremlin stance,” blares a headline by Business Insider.

“What would a Russian agent say if asked if they were a Russian agent?” tweeted former FBI special agent Clint Watts in response to Carlson’s denial.

“They are pushing the belief that anyone is suspicious and sinister for questioning the official narrative about Russia.”

“Tucker Carlson Denies Being Russian Agent After Taking Kremlin’s Side,” says a viral tweet by former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi.

“Narrator: After he helped destroy American Democracy, it turned out he was, indeed, a Russian agent … though a rather silly one,” added MSNBC’s cartoonish “intelligence” expert Malcolm Nance.

“Tucker Carlson is walking proof that you don’t need to be an agent to be a useful idiot,” former FBI agent Peter Strzok told MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace, apparently less willing to commit to the bit than his FBI peers.

“Why hasn’t Tucker Carlson registered as a foreign agent?” reads a viral tweet from the notorious Lincoln Project. 

[Consortium News was similarly attacked on the weekend by PropOrNot, the anonymous group that smears U.S. critics as Russian agents, as well as by Louise Mensch, the former British MP and current right-wing provocateur. CN was on PropOrNot’s original 2016 list, and its founding editor Robert Parry was repeatedly smeared as a “Kremlin stooge” for his independent reporting. The Washington Post called PropOrNot “experts” but allowed them to anonymously attack websites.]

I’ve never gotten used to the insane McCarthyite accusations which U.S. liberals will hurl without a second thought at anyone who disagrees with them. Every time it happens it startles and alarms me, and this latest trend of claiming that opposition to U.S. military posture toward a nuclear superpower constitutes evidence of being a treasonous foreign intelligence operative is a marked uptick in the madness.

I’m highlighting this deranged behavior not to defend the odious Carlson, but to point out that it works very much in the U.S. empire’s favor to have a bunch of influential narrative managers aggressively manufacturing the consensus that anyone who criticizes America’s posture toward Russia is suspicious and untrustworthy.

Anyone Can Be Suspect

The mass media, whose primary job is to propagandize the masses and who have an extensive history of lying to the public to manufacture consent for war, are not pushing the belief that Carlson is suspicious and sinister for questioning the official narrative about Russia. They are pushing the belief that anyone is suspicious and sinister for questioning the official narrative about Russia.

That’s the message that people are receiving from this line that’s being pushed by narrative managers and ex-federal agents. Anyone who is successfully indoctrinated with this belief will become inoculated against wrongthink about that nation because they will reflexively distrust the motives of anyone who says anything that differs from the officially authorized line.

That’s the real value of this framing for the imperial propagandists. They don’t care about Carlson, who serves their agendas more often than not. They care about making sure that current and future establishment narratives about Russia will be swallowed hook, line and sinker by the mainstream public without the slightest twinge of gag reflex. You don’t even need to silence dissent if you can simply render it impotent.

It’s worth considering the possibility that all the artificially manufactured Russia hysteria we’ve seen over the last five years has been geared toward building public support for the exact escalations we are seeing today. After all, it says a lot that Russiagate began with unevidenced claims by U.S. intelligence agencies who have an extensive track record of lying, resulted in the reignition of a new cold war against a nation long targeted for destruction by the U.S. intelligence cartel, and now there are tons of weapons being flown in to Ukraine and U.S. troops are being moved to Eastern Europe in response to a threat we’ve still seen no evidence is actually real.

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. If you can control what people believe about a certain thing, then you can control what they will do and what they will allow in response to that thing. Controlling people’s beliefs about reality is controlling their reality. If you can convince people that anyone who disputes what you’re saying about a government you don’t like is suspicious and not to be trusted, then you can keep them believing everything you say about that government.

It’s clear that it is very, very important to the narrative managers that we believe what we are told about Russia. Now we’re just waiting to find out toward what specific end that agenda is being driven.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.  Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix, Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

29 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Smearing US Critics as ‘Russian Agents’

  1. David Duret
    February 2, 2022 at 21:47

    Do you know why the over priced marketing firm for the techie geeks finally went with the name “Smart Bombs?”
    Because otherwise there would be nothing smart about them.

  2. robert e williamson jr
    February 1, 2022 at 21:21

    I am not trying to be flippant, not at all. But honestly isn’t this exactly how fascism works?

    Be wary. All journalists maybe be next!

  3. jon nelms
    February 1, 2022 at 19:23

    I’m surprised he hasn’t been accused of being unpatriotic which is of course the equivalent of treason whenever you dare to not support your country no matter how misguided it might be.

  4. vinnieoh
    February 1, 2022 at 13:28

    “Whoever controls the narrative controls the world.”

    You and I have been on the same page about narrative creation/propagation/management for quite some time. However, it is at times like this that the limits of narrative and its control are exposed.

    Such as: if the US forces the issue here and really does precipitate a shooting war I doubt that Russia will care much about the narrative or appearances of any sort. What they want is not to have missiles – strategic or tactical – sitting in neighboring countries pointed at them, and standing armies fully indoctrinated into the Russia hatred so rampant in DC and many of their European apologists, ready to repeat Napolean’s and Hitler’s mistakes.

    Don’t misunderstand. Of course I know whose narrative we’re talking about here. Russia should remind the US (and the world) that it was US missiles in Turkey and Italy that prompted them to send missiles to Cuba, and so to get the JFK administration to quietly remove same from T & I. But here I’ve proved your point I guess, because the “official” narrative of the “Cuban Missile Crisis” seldom seems to mention those missiles in Turkey and Italy, nor JFK’s quiet removal of them.

    I’ve forgotten the pundit that pondered history rhyming vs. repeating.

    Saw the crawler on mah teevee screen this morning about Russian disinformation on the internet. Of course I knew that CN would be so accused. To any spooks and spies employed by the hegemon lurking here –


    Have a nice day.

  5. February 1, 2022 at 12:48

    I confess I listen to Tucker Carlson and I would agree some of his claims can be hyperbolic but ever since I began watching him, he is the only consistently anti-war commentator with a large audience out there. He does not carry messages for the establishment. His commentary on equity versus equality rings true as well, equity is divisive, equality the opposite.

    Yes, his behavior can seem weird at times but it’s part of the package.

  6. rick
    February 1, 2022 at 11:53

    In the UK MSM and state narrative propaganda and lies on Russia have worked a treat no one literally dares to question any aspect of UK foreign policy its taboo. The two party system is bipartisan and programmed to exclude the likes of Corbyn and others who dare criticise the prevailing consensus. Fear is the resultant enforced by an overwhelmingly right wing MSM who assisted by organs of the UK Security State will smear and destroy any non conformist in public
    This repression leads the UK to act as the most energetic and dangerous mouthpiece of anti Russia propaganda and misinformation in Europe. Conditioning the population with fear and loathing for all things Russian is an obsession of the UK ruling class (likewise its intelligence agencies) witness their frenetic efforts to whip up anti Russian sentiments by tracing the thread of the Iraq War WMD Chemical and Biological attack scare in 2003, the alleged Syrian Government chemical weapons attacks from 2012 to 2018, to the alleged polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and culminating in the alleged Novichok poisonings of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the UK and Alexei Navalany in Russia. The object here is to literally dehumanise Russia and can be viewed coincident with the historic support and manipulation by M16 of Nazis and fascist formations before and after WW2 to fight Bolshevism in Russia and Eastern Europe. The Brits are intent on militarising Eastern Europe under the NATO gumboot to both contain Russia and ultimately subvert its internal security by creating a league of virulent anti Russian states on its west and southwest borders and to provide ‘material aid for anti-Russian counter-espionage and paramilitary operations’. The militarisation of Ukraine in progress (UK MOD continues to airlift weapons to Ukraine since the 17/01/2022) is synonymous with this revived Cold War hostility to Russia and indicative of UK warmongering in Eastern Europe. Expect no less of a provocation from UK intelligence whose old boys’ Etonian network has promised our truculent tin pot leader Boris a baptism in fire to solidify his grip on power!

  7. Vera Gottlieb
    February 1, 2022 at 10:32

    Depending from which side the wind is blowing…this is how the flag will fly. Anything goes…

  8. Matthew Buckley
    February 1, 2022 at 09:50

    The Stolen Election 2020 vs. Russiagate 2016. Tune into your favorite infotainment channel to find out who’s winning. These two heavy weights are battling for your consent. Quick reset of the big fight – In 2016 the deplorable, venal, corrupt career politician loses to the deplorable, venal, corrupt career con man. Blame Russia. In 2020 the deplorable, venal, corrupt career con man loses to the deplorable, venal, corrupt career politician. The election was stolen. I’d say Russiagate is winning right now from the looks of it. Remember it had a four-year head start on The Stolen Election. I suspect The Stolen Election will generate a lot of steam in the coming months and years, though. It’s a formidable upstart to Russigate for sure. It’s getting a lot of help from state legislatures in the gerrymandering/voter-suppression area, so watch out. The propaganda arm in this competitor is strengthening too, and I have my eyes on a Fox News commentator to help. His name is Tucker Carlson and he isn’t a Russian agent. No sir. He’s an anti-democratic, bigoted far-right wing, white nationalist, conspiracy peddling menace. Odious indeed.

    • Surrealisto
      February 2, 2022 at 01:27

      Both parties are engaged in 2 Big Lies. If we keep on belleiving in either one of them, where will that lead us?

  9. susan
    February 1, 2022 at 08:55

    The USA is the biggest propaganda machine in the world – Russia doesn’t hold a candle to us. If any of you out there think otherwise you are complete imbeciles…

    • Vera Gottlieb
      February 1, 2022 at 10:35

      Yes, a good PR machine and most of the world has been fooled (quite successfully) for years.

  10. Edd Anderson
    January 31, 2022 at 21:36

    Even McCaryists would not be able to get away with calling T Carlson a russian agent with a straight face. He is just a shit disturber whose mouth never stops. I hope he never becomes an environmentalist.

    • vinnieoh
      February 1, 2022 at 12:48

      The most astute analysis of the bunch, so far. Haven’t read to the top though… And I agree – the mud would become impossibly opaque if T Carlson ever decided to find an environmental sensibility.

  11. Peter C
    January 31, 2022 at 20:10

    Carlson was critical about US actions in Syria, and his skepticism about the current Russia/Ukraine narrative is sensible. He’s wrong about many other things, but he seems to have a better grasp of US foreign policy than most of his peers.

  12. Victor
    January 31, 2022 at 19:45

    We’re officially living in Clown World.

    Fox News is the only mainstream news outlet speaking truth to power and questioning the need to rush to war.

    While the people who used to accuse Fox of unquestioningly supporting the WMD narrative in Iraq, are busy smearing everyone who doesn’t go along with the White House’s narrative as a “Russian agent”.

    Crazy times!

  13. Working class Brit
    January 31, 2022 at 19:29

    To call Tucker Carson an agent of Russia , is totally ridiculous . The USA government and the Washington think tanks, and the pentagon propaganda war machine, are starting to panic as they are losing the narrative as each day passes and no invasion has transpired. The misinformation is made clearer each passing day.

  14. David Otness
    January 31, 2022 at 18:55

    McCarthyism 2.0. (Or, likely higher in the web-spinning that defines today’s ongoing psyops that barely, just barely, allow the U.S.—but in particular the Dem party—to so ferociously strut and purport its raison d’être as being “I’m more red-blooded than you” against any and all comers when it comes to being the vanguard of Otherism as defined by their Russia bad! as they want all loose and lingering sheep not fully within their sway or in range of their crook (shepherd’s) to flock in a “Baaa!” harmony that protects both their office-holding asses and their Wall Street/MIC benefactors; malefactors to the rest of humanity that they are in tandem.

    To have witnessed the Dems in their flight from FDR and social equality/comity over the decades is a jaw-dropping experience. Now that they are so thoroughly ensconced in the arms (headlock?) of tech and the military/surveillance state, this proves a very hard object lesson in my already long life. Slow learner me.
    As surely as the Republican party revision from being the torch-bearers of anti-slavery to today’s pitiful husk of McConnell and lately of Der Trump, the Dems have proven quite as capable of distortion and delusion in their current iteration of “just wanting to do what’s right for mah fellow Americans” in protecting “our American values.”
    Values du jour, that is.
    Whaddevah keeps the money-dispensing flowing through their hands as primary agents taking their cut, that is.
    Putting the world on nuclear hair trigger status to that end? No problema. Whatsoevah! Point being: as structured, we ain’t gonna ever vote our way out of this one.
    So you tell me: Is this an oligarchy, a plutocracy, a kleptocracy, or a kakistocracy? (Pssst, I looked. It’s all of ’em.)
    I only know one thing regarding those “choices.”
    What it is NOT is a democracy.
    That we lost, and only if we squint can we see it ever further receding in the rear view mirror.

  15. Barbara
    January 31, 2022 at 18:27

    Maybe you coud ditch the “odious” and just refer to him by name. Given the cast of truly oious characters in your fine post – Tucker doesn’t even come close. As far as I know, he’s never advocated starving or droning a foreign country because they don’t play the US war game.

  16. Andrew Nichols
    January 31, 2022 at 17:46

    What would a Russian agent say if asked if they were a Russian agent?” tweeted former FBI special agent Clint Watts in response to Carlson’s denial.

    What would a witch say if asked if they were a witch?” asked the Witch hunter in response to the denial.

  17. phree
    January 31, 2022 at 17:19

    War hysteria generates clicks and clicks generate money.

    Attacking doubters as Russian agents generates clicks.

    A war scare distracts the British public from Partygate and distracts the US public from inflation and the inability of the Democrats to pass their legislation.

    A war scare allows Biden to pose as “strong” after the Afghan withdrawal.

    A war scare makes the military industrial complex happy and rich.

    And who gets hurt? Well, so long as the war scare doesn’t spin out of control.

  18. mgr
    January 31, 2022 at 15:59

    This is also the true evil of facebook. I’ve heard that many people, perhaps as many as 80%, now get their news through facebook. Now that is terrifying. The ultimate evil of facebook is that it curtails your sources so that all you are left with is the preferred mainstream narrative and the illusion of independence and choice. This is narrative and social control. And, just to mention, look where this narrative has led us; to the brink of environmental catastrophe and a new Cold War (while the rich become richer). Truly, the so called “Democratic Party” is now the party of HRC and should be abandoned.

  19. John Sansone
    January 31, 2022 at 15:58

    Accusing a media comentator of collusion with a foreign government for stating an opinion is so ludicrous. Especially when you have US based lobbies and politicians openly pimping for the Israeli government.

  20. Lois Gagnon
    January 31, 2022 at 15:22

    The narrative managers are getting worried because their war mongering is not working on a majority of their audience. Smears are the only tool left in their box and even that tool only works on the few Dem party loyalists who haven’t already run for the exits. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of greedy ghouls.

  21. renate
    January 31, 2022 at 15:21

    Consortium News helps to keep one’s sanity, and not get trapped by the MSM manipulation of the public. Thank you.

  22. renate
    January 31, 2022 at 15:08

    The media is Putin and Russia bashing for as long as I can remember. Putin has been demonized from the day he became President Putin. We have a president even calling him a killer. For a long time now the Putin bashing is really 24/7. I can not recall any respect for him or his accomplishments. The threats are made by our President and his Secretary of State Blinken against Russia, they and all the members in the state department must be sociopathic Russophobes.
    Journalists never ask pertinent questions of all the Russophobes they invite for interviews. Never any rational analytic thinking by the journalists, which seem to know nothing about the background or history of the subject. As of now, we have not been told what Biden wants to accomplish by beating the war drums. Mr. Putin is a rational man with common sense, with an excellent diplomate Mr. Lavrov on his side, we have nothing like that on our side. That makes the US president a very dangerous warmonger.

    • David Otness
      January 31, 2022 at 19:25

      “… As of now, we have not been told what Biden wants to accomplish by beating the war drums.”
      Nor are we likely to be given what is perhaps the likeliest true reason, renate. I’m inclined to think it the probably irredeemable setting straight of our smoke and mirrors fallacious economy. The USD’s ($) previous primacy is under true threat at a time when our status as a debtor nation has gone into the stratosphere/outer space (or Hell) and how we ever balance our national checkbook again is a real driver of this desperation, imho.
      The only answer I see is an old and vicious one, with victims in the billions this time.
      But take heart, I’ve been wrong plenty of times in my life.

  23. rosemerry
    January 31, 2022 at 14:37

    Nobody ever seems to worry about the actual facts.Check out the words and actions of Russia in recent weeks(or the last 8 years!)and observe.Russian troops are in Russia;No threats or moves into Ukraine have been made.
    For the Russiagaters and Russia Haters;
    If you dare to, watch free online the movie”Crimea-the way back home”.It is 2 hours long and has Russian dialogue and English subtitles and you many even learn something about how people feel about their homeland .

    • Victor
      January 31, 2022 at 19:52

      Part of the problem is the tendency of Democrats to think of themselves as well informed citizens of the world, when in reality they tend to be just as ignorant as “the other side”: The people they tend to look down on as misinformed as easily manipulated.

      And when your news sources are CNN and NYT it’s pretty damn hard to be well informed, since they’re both mouthpieces of the establishment.

      So you’ll never know for example that Putin is fairly popular in Russia, and was elected in fair elections despite his arguably authoritarian tendencies.

      You’ll never know that there never previously was a Ukrainian state, that Crimea has been Russian for centuries, that many in Ukraine are Russian, nor that there was a referendum in the Eastern part of Ukraine.

      • robert e williamson jr
        February 1, 2022 at 19:13

        I know that the Eastern Ukraine populace is predominately Russians who speak Russian. I can’t prove this here and now but word is Putin has been issuing Russian passports to that group. I also know some about Crimea’s tortured history.

        I know the U.S. is not without blame for much of the Ukraine’s recent troubles. I know Putin is very popular among Russians.

        I know I have no clue to what ‘problem’ specifically your reference here , “Part of the problem is the tendency of Democrats to think . . . “, but I do believe Republicans feel the same way with respect to their own attributes both being equally unfounded in thinking so.

        And I know that you don’t know what I’ll never know. And those are the facts.

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