Tucker Carlson has been a little confused about how to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He’s long praised Vladimir Putin and even said the other year that he was rooting for him against Ukraine. Putin has since waged a war that has resulted in thousands of deaths, muddling Carlson’s messaging. The Fox News host last month called the invasion “horrifying” and a “tragedy” for which Putin is “to blame,” before wondering how the U.S. should respond.
He’s turned to Douglas MacGregor — a former Army colonel and Trump appointee with a history of racism — to help answer that question and generally make sense of what’s happening overseas.
McGregor has been popping up on various Fox News programs since the invasion, mostly to shill for Putin at a time when he’s unleashing hell on one of America’s allies. He did so again Monday night, arguing on Tucker Carlson Tonight that slapping sanctions on Russia is useless. “The sanctions … will do a lot of damage to us,” he told Carlson. “They’re not going to make much difference to Russia. China will stand with Russia. It knows it has to. Russia has an abundance of food and energy. China will take it all. Russia will not suffer as a result of our sanctions. In fact, it may break down the financial system that we have set up to punish everyone in the world we don’t like.”
Macgregor: Russia will not suffer as a result of our sanctions pic.twitter.com/gewaMXQfBW
— Acyn (@Acyn) March 8, 2022
JPMorgan estimated recently that Russia’s GDP will decline by 12 percent, that the country’s exports will decline by 13 percent. “What is clear … is that Russia’s growing economic and political isolation will lead to lower growth in the long run,” said Anatoliy Shal, an economist at JPMorgan.
MacGregor’s appearance on Monday comes just days after he told Stuart Varney of Fox Business that Russia’s forces were “too gentle” during the first days of the invasion, that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a “puppet” who shouldn’t be resisting Russia’s incursion, and that everything that’s been coming out of Ukraine is propaganda.
Varney could barely believe what he was hearing. “I’m inclined to disagree with you, Colonel,” he said
US Colonel MacGregor says:
1)Russian army was “too gentle”, but now “will complete everything” within 10 days
2)Zelenskyy is “delusional” & a “puppet”. He should’ve kept Ukraine neutral instead of trying to join NATO
3)Almost all Ukrainian claims are propaganda pic.twitter.com/69oAHQ5m31
— Alexei Arora (@AlexeiArora) March 5, 2022
Varney shouldn’t have been so surprised. A few days earlier, Macgregor said on Fox News that America needs to stop demonizing Putin and refrain from sending any aid to Ukraine. When he was asked if America should just let Russia take whatever it wants from Ukraine, Macgregor said “absolutely,” adding that it shouldn’t be a big deal because “the population there is indistinguishable from their own.”
Former Trump Advisor Douglas MacGregor says we need to stop demonizing Putin, lift all sanctions, stop providing weapons and aid, that it’s “hopeless,” and just let Putin take whatever part of Ukraine that he wants. pic.twitter.com/HBnLWVdVgD
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) February 28, 2022
Macgregor is about as pro-Putin as it gets, and, unlike others in the Republican Party, hasn’t backed off as the authoritarian has invaded a neighboring democracy. Nevertheless, Carlson introduced him last week as an “honest man,” after which Macgregor pushed more Putin propaganda, arguing he is simply trying to prevent “further attempts to influence or change Ukraine into effectively a platform for the projection of U.S. and Western power into Russia.”
His subsequent comments about Russia being “too gentle” — which Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) used to highlight the “Putin wing of the GOP” — didn’t dissuade Carlson from having him on again on Monday. His argument against sanctioning Russia is basically another way of saying Putin should be able to do whatever it wants to Ukraine.
Macgregor isn’t just a Putin apologist, either. He’s a staunch anti-interventionist to the point that, like former President Trump, he’s questioned America’s participation in NATO, the West’s primary military counterbalance against Russia. In a 2016 presentation his group delivered to the Command General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Macgregor wrote that “old alliances like NATO may vanish,” and argued that it’s “time to reexamine U.S. investment in ‘allies’ that are doing too little to secure their own sovereign interests,” noting that the “Cold War ended 27 years ago.”
I just dug up an old presentation by Douglas Macgregor, Tucker's favorite analyst on the Russian invasion. He's been forecasting — and banging the drum for — the death of NATO for quite a while. More here: https://t.co/3V66QC8uqQ pic.twitter.com/ZYtsMCikNu
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) March 8, 2022
Media Matters recently dug into his past appearances on Fox News, including several on Carlson’s show, and found that Macgregor’s nationalism very much extends to immigration issues. He advocated for instituting martial law at the U.S.-Mexico border, adding that the military should “shoot people” if necessary, as CNN reported in 2020. He’s also argued that Democrats are trying to “transform the United States” by replacing white people with immigrants. Macgregor’s comments align with the Great Replacement theory, which is prevalent in white nationalist circles and is particularly associated with anti-Semitism. Macgregor has a history of trading in anti-Semitic tropes, as well. CNN reported that he has on multiple occasions claimed that U.S. support for Israel is due to the “Israeli lobby” making top officials “very, very rich.”
Carlson is also, of course, a leading proponent of the Great Replacement theory, and Media Matters notes that Trump “repeatedly” considered Macgregor for jobs in his administration after his appearances on Carlson’s show. Trump nominated him in the summer of 2020 to be the U.S. ambassador to Germany, with the White House describing him as a “decorated combat veteran, author, and a consultant,” as well as a “frequent radio and television commentator on national security affairs.” The nomination didn’t pan out after CNN reported on Macgregor’s history of racism. Trump was undeterred, though, appointing Macgregor as a Pentagon senior adviser shortly after the 2020 election.
He apparently hasn’t slipped out of the good graces of Carlson and Fox News, either.