The claim: Tucker Carlson suggested photos of bodies in Bucha, Ukraine, could have been staged
A made-up quote falsely attributed to Tucker Carlson has spread widely on social media, where politicians and media figures claimed the Fox News host was parroting Russian falsehoods about potential war crimes in Ukraine.
the confusion began with a tweet in which former Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., appeared to quote Carlson on photos depicting the bodies of numerous civilians in the streets of Bucha, Ukraine.
“.@TuckerCarlson tonight: ‘What if these bodies of tortured, dead civilians were staged?'” the April 4 tweet reads. “‘What if they’re fake? What if the Ukrainian military killed them & then blamed Russia? I’m not saying any of this is true, I’m just asking the questions. Why can’t we ask these questions?’ “
Walsh’s tweet referred to graphic images published April 4 that show Bucha residents who had been shot at close range or allegedly otherwise executed. Satellite imagery and intercepted calls indicate the photos are real, but the Russian government claims the deaths were “staged” by Ukrainian forces and Western media after Russian troops left the city.
Thousands of people – including MSNBC hostJoy Reid, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif. – shared the tweet as if it were a real quote. walsh later clarified the tweet was a “prediction” of what Carlson would say on his show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” and Lieu deleted his quote-tweet of the post.
However, the tweet also appeared as a screenshot in hundreds of posts on other platforms, such as Facebook.
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“Fox News and the Murdoch family have a responsibility here!” Amy Siskind, a Democratic activist and podcast host, wrote in a Facebook post April 4. “Tucker Carlson should not be allowed on air in a time of war to spread Russian propaganda!”
But Carlson has denied saying the quote in the tweet, and Walsh told USA TODAY it’s made-up. The claim also surfaced before Carlson would have had a chance to comment on the Bucha images.
USA TODAY reached out to Reid, Kinzinger, Lieu and Siskind for comment.
Carlson didn’t say quote
Carlson responded to Walsh’s tweet on air, calling the quote “disinformation” and noting that his show hadn’t broached the topic.
“It’s completely made-up – utterly,” Carlson said on his show April 5. “We didn’t say that, we didn’t say anything like that. We didn’t even address the topic on the air in any way. So everything about Joe Walsh’s tweet is a manufactured lie. It’s pure disinformation, as they now say.”
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Walsh told USA TODAY he “stands behind” his tweet. He said he has previously posted “predictions” of Carlson’s scripts on Twitter in advance of his shows, but that none had been misinterpreted in the way this tweet was.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Carlson suggested photos of bodies in Bucha could have been staged by Ukrainians. The claim stems from a Twitter post the author acknowledges was made-up.
Our fact-check sources:
- Joe Walsh, April 7, Phone interview with USA TODAY
- Joe Walsh, April 4, Tweet (archived)
- The Center for Public Integrity, updated Feb. 7, 2020, 9 things to know about Joe Walsh
- Tucker Carlson Tonight via SnapStream, April 5, 8:33:57 pm – 8:40:26 pm segment
- Fox News, accessed April 8, Tucker Carlson Tonight
- USA TODAY, April 7, War in Ukraine: Wake of violence revealed as Russian troops withdraw
- USA TODAY, April 7, UN usts Russia from Human Rights Council; Germany reportedly intercepts chatter on atrocities: April 7 recap
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