Fox News personality Tucker Carlson was criticized after he claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy "dressed like the manager of a strip club" when he addressed Congress and asked for more aid to fight the ongoing Russian invasion.
Zelenskyy's address to Congress marked his first foreign visit since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. He gave the speech while dressed in battle fatigues, a style of dress that is not out of the ordinary for him given his propensity for appealing to Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines.
Zelenskyy's rather utilitarian fashion sense is also a matter of optics; he has successfully rallied the Ukrainian people by casting the war as an existential threat to their homeland, and he has dressed like a "man of the people" to best convey his solidarity.
You can hear some of his speech to Congress in the video below.
But an unimpressed Carlson attacked Zelenskyy, suggesting he'd "dressed like the manager of a strip club" when he should have dressed more formally for the occasion.
You can hear what Carlson said in the video below.
Tucker Carlson: Where does Zelenskyy get off talking to us like this?youtu.be
Carlson evoked the image of the often sloppily dressed Sam Bankman-Fried—the disgraced founder and chief executive of the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX—to attack Zelenskyy:
"As far as we know, no one's ever addressed the United States Congress in a sweatshirt before, but they love him much more than they love you. Welcome to Tucker Carlson Tonight."
"Remember when Sam Bankman-Fried showed up in Washington wearing a t-shirt and spouting nonsense, and all the self-described geniuses declared him a hero? The media, the Congress, the White House, they all love this weird little guy called Sam Bankman-Fried. Do you remember that?"
"Somehow we were reminded of it today when the president of Ukraine arrived at the White House, dressed like the manager of a strip club and started to demand money."
Carlson proceeded to criticize Zelenskyy’s request for more money and weapons to aid the war effort:
"Amazingly, no one threw him out. Instead, they did whatever he wanted. American taxpayers declare [Democratic President] Joe Biden will continue to give Zelenskyy whatever he demands for, quote, 'as long as it takes.'"
"Tellingly, Biden never specified what "it" is. As long as it takes to do what? Push the Russian army back to pre-invasion borders? Sounds reasonable."
"That's what most Americans likely assume, those who are still paying attention. But that is not what Zelenskyy means, and it is not what he is asking for. Zelenskyy is demanding regime change in Russia, just like in Iraq and Libya, and a long list of other failed states."
"Except this time, in the heart of the Eurasian landmass, next door to the entire civilized world. That's what Zelenskyy has called for repeatedly, and every dollar we send to him goes toward that end. At this point, he's getting a lot closer to achieving it."
Carlson claimed that the reason Zelenskyy paid a visit to Washington "was not to make the world more stable or make wise decisions, much less to help America."
And of the "bipartisan masochism" that he believes has wrongly elevated Zelenskyy to heroic status in the months since Russia's invasion kicked off the worst humanitarian crisis Europe has seen in decades, he was similarly critical:
"The point was to fawn over the Ukrainian strip club manager and hand him billions more dollars from our own crumbling economy. It is hard, in fact, it may be impossible to imagine a more humiliating scenario for the greatest country on earth."
"And we would love to blame Joe Biden for it. But we can't really, not entirely, at least."
Many have condemned Carlson's remarks.
Zelenskyy has become a globally popular figure in the months since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The last ten months have seen Zelenskyy speak to the United Nations (UN), foreign governments, and other governmental bodies as he's pleaded for financial, military and verbal support to defend his nation from Russian aggression.
But many right-wingers have complained relentlessly about Zelenskyy, stressing that the United States has sent too much humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine already.
Allegations that Zelenskyy is effectively stealing from American taxpayers have thus far energized Republicans, who recently rallied behind Georgia Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who introduced a resolution to audit United States military and economic aid for Ukraine.
The resolution, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was defeated in a 26-to-22 vote because Democrats still control the panel. However, the fact it was introduced indicates, as The Washington Post pointed out, "that the Biden administration will face stricter scrutiny of its support forthe war effort when control of the House shifts next year."