Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has earned widespread admiration for his response to Russian President Vladmir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Despite plots against his life and heavy shelling of his cities, Zelenskyy has remained in Ukraine, spearheading efforts to secure additional assistance against Russian forces.
But not everyone is singing Zelenskyy's praises. Far-right Representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina decried Zelenskyy to a group of supporters earlier this month.
"Remember that Zelenskyy is a thug. Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies."
While Cawthorn's diatribe against the fledgling democratic nation earned backlash from Americans, Putin-friendly media in Russia can't get enough of it, according to NBC News foreign correspondent Raf Sanchez, who recently returned from three weeks of reporting in Moscow.
In a Thursday Twitter thread, Sanchez described the ways state media is characterizing Putin's war to Russian citizens. Cawthorn's comments describing Zelenskyy as a thug, according to Sanchez, "got played over and over."
Sanchez shared part of a segment in which Cawthorn's comments about Zelenskyy, as well as part of his speech from the most recent Republican National Convention, were dubbed in Russian.
Thousands of Russian citizens, risking arrest, have demonstrated their opposition to Putin's war, whether by marching through the streets or—as in the case of Channel One editor Marina Ovsyannikova—hijacking state media segments to tell Russians that their government is lying.
American support for Putin has been used as a tool to counteract that opposition. In addition to playing Cawthorn's comments, Russian state media channels have also propped up far-right Fox News host Tucker Carlson's segments, in which he suggested that American Democrats pose a greater threat than Putin. He also claimed Ukraine wasn't a democracy, but a "client state" for the U.S. Sanchez said these comments from Carlson are also played "several times a day" on Russian state TV. This is just after a leaked Kremlin memo from earlier this month urged state media channels to play Carlson's pro-Putin rants "as much as possible."
Social media users condemned Cawthorn for boosting Putin's propaganda, including the junior Republican Senator from Cawthorn's home state of North Carolina.
Cawthorn's original comments regarding Zelenskyy generated backlash as well.
Russian forces remain stalled in their attempted takeover of Ukraine.