Far-right MAGA Republicans admire Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine — and try to emulate it: report​

Far-right MAGA Republicans admire Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine — and try to emulate it: report​

The list of far-right MAGA Republicans who have vigorously defended and even praised Russian President Vladimir Putin is a long one, ranging from former President Donald Trump to “War Room” host Steve Bannon, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and QAnon supporter Lauren Witzke (the Delaware Republican who ran against Sen. Chris Coons in 2020). Bannon has praised Putin for not being “woke,” and Witzke recently said, “I identify more with Putin's Christian values than I do with Joe Biden.”

To Kevin Baron, executive editor of Defense One, all of the Putin worship coming from MAGA Republicans speaks volumes about their view of the world. In an article published by Defense One on March 11, Baron warns that the way Putin runs Russia is the way the far right would like to run the United States — and he stresses that MAGA media functions a lot like government-operated pro-Putin media in Russia.

“It’s hard to watch Russia's version of journalism and not think of the American far-right’s version of it,” Baron argues. “Indeed, the connections are both direct and philosophical — and of import to national security leaders. But there’s a deeper connection as well. America’s right-wing partisans wish they had what Putin has: control of the information and messages that flow to the body politic. That’s not an accusation; it is their goal.”


According to Baron, it's no coincidence that Carlson in the U.S. and government-operated media in Russia use the same talking points when discussing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“In the past few months,” Baron explains, “we’ve seen just how closely related the two are: Putin’s propaganda and our own. Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, America’s far-right denied the looming threat as a wag-the-dog conspiracy concocted by deep-state Democrats and centrist Republicans, or tried to blame President Joe Biden. Russian propaganda outlets gleefully put those clips into heavy rotation. Two weeks into the invasion, far-right leaders continue to sow doubt on war reporting, claiming or implying there is an elite conspiracy to keep Americans uninformed, and often parroting Russian propagandists’ distortions and lies.”

Baron cites specific examples of far-right media outlets that conduct themselves like state-owned Russian media.

“While politicians come and go, the lasting damage is in the lingering popularity of Soviet-style agitprop propaganda from loyalist far-right media operations deliberately masquerading as journalism,” Baron observes. “These outlets —designed to look, sound, and feel like journalism — are de facto paid actors, directors, and scriptwriters of a carefully crafted fiction that would make the Kremlin proud. They call themselves reporters and operate in pretend newsrooms like Steve Bannon’s Breitbart, Carlson’s Daily Caller, Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, and upstarts like One America News Network and Newsmax. They are different from older conservative magazines like the National Review and Weekly Standard, whose writers did not try to impersonate straight newsrooms — and, indeed, intermittently opposed Trump’s 2016 election.”

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