May 2, 2023

Fox Owner Rupert Murdoch Spoke With Zelenskyy Weeks Before Firing Tucker

Ukraine has a history of trying to silence American dissent on the Ukraine-Russia war.
Fox Owner Rupert Murdoch Spoke With Zelenskyy Weeks Before Firing Tucker
Rupert Murdoch, 2015

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The scoop: Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reportedly held private calls in March, where they discussed the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the anniversary of the deaths of Fox News journalists last year in the region. Zelenskyy also mentioned in a March 15 broadcast that he had a similar conversation with Rupert’s son, Lachlan Murdoch, who is now the executive chairman of Fox.

Why it matters: These discussions took place weeks before the Murdochs dismissed Tucker Carlson from Fox, the network’s most prominent star and critic of American support for Ukraine. Senior Ukrainian officials had expressed concerns about Carlson's coverage to Fox executives, but Zelenskyy did not address this issue during his calls with the Murdochs, a source familiar with the details told Semafor.

Tucker and Ukraine: Carlson was the only Fox News host to consistently questioned the mainstream narrative about the war in Ukraine. Rupert Murdoch was reportedly troubled by Carlson's position, especially after his show displayed a graphic labeling Zelenskyy as a "Ukrainian pimp.” As journalist Glenn Greenwald commented, by ousting Carlson, Murdoch removed “the most influential anti-war voice from TV.” Semafor notes that Carlson’s firing will also “relieve pressure on key Capitol Hill Ukraine supporters” who were scrutinized by him. And pro-war Pentagon officials were pleased with Carlson’s dismissal.

Between the lines: While no direct evidence links Carlson’s removal to Zelenskyy, it is worth noting that, less than a year ago, Ukraine's Center for Countering Disinformation targeted several high-profile Americans who expressed skepticism about the war efforts. The Ukrainian government agency accused these individuals of "promoting Russian propaganda," and the FBI pressured social media platforms to censor users based on these claims. Among those targeted were Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and Greenwald.

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