(Tucker Carlson Network)

Last week, Tucker Carlson’s (Right bias) interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin prompted widespread coverage across the media spectrum. Many mainstream outlets framed coverage around topics Carlson and Putin discussed, including the history of Russia and Ukraine, NATO, the bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines, and imprisoned Wall Street Journal (Center bias) reporter Evan Gershkovich.

But one of the biggest storylines came from a February 7 report by Newsweek (Center bias), in which it quoted former and current EU officials who said Carlson could face sanctions as a result of his travel to Moscow to interview the Russian president.

The report was picked up by many outlets on the Right, while the Left and Center largely ignored it, displaying bias by omission

The EU then refuted the idea that it was considering sanctions against Carlson, yet very few media outlets covered this update, including the outlets that covered Newsweek’s initial report.

Newsweek Reports EU Officials’ Comments on Sanctioning Carlson

Former Belgian Prime Minister, and current Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Guy Verhofstadt “called for the EU to explore imposing a ‘travel ban’ on Carlson” and “described Carlson as ‘a mouthpiece’ of former President Donald Trump and Putin,” according to Newsweek. He added, "As Putin is a war criminal and the EU sanctions all who assist him in that effort, it seems logical that the External Action Service examine his case as well."

MEP Urmas Paet, who also formerly served as Estonia’s foreign minister, like Verhofstadt, was bullish on the idea of sanctioning Carlson: "Carlson wants to give a platform to someone accused of crimes of genocide—this is wrong. If Putin has something to say he needs to say it in front of the ICC… for such propaganda for a criminal regime, you can end up on the list of sanctions.”

Lopsided Coverage from the Right on Newsweek’s Report

In this instance, it appears outlets on the Right found Newsweek’s report to be more compelling for their audiences, while outlets from the Center and Left did not, causing a lopsided distribution of coverage across the spectrum.

Breitbart (Right bias), The Daily Caller (Right bias), Daily Mail (Right bias), The Daily Signal (Right bias), The Daily Wire (Right bias), National Review (Lean Right bias), The Post Millennial (Right bias) RT (Lean Right bias), Townhall (Right bias), and ZeroHedge (Right bias) all covered Newsweek’s report. 

Despite the story being covered by almost entirely sources on the Right, notably absent from the bunch were several major conservative outlets like Carlson’s former employer, Fox News (Right bias), Fox Business (Lean Right bias), New York Post (Lean Right bias), Newsmax (Right bias), Washington Times (Lean Right bias), and Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias).

AllSides found only one additional Center-rated outlet and one Left-rated outlet that covered the report. The Hill (Center bias) featured it as part of its video program, Rising, and The Mirror (Left bias) ran news coverage on its website.

Carlson speaks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (Viktor Orbán/Facebook via Breitbart)

The EU Adds Context; Says ‘No Discussions’ to Sanction Carlson

A few days after Newsweek’s report sparked coverage and dialogue on social media, reports surfaced that the EU was not currently considering bringing sanctions against Carlson.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on February 8, European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano said, “Currently there are no discussions in the relevant EU bodies linked to this specific person… the American person who is in Moscow.”

He added, however, that the EU can sanction "propagandists" who have "a continued track record" of manipulating information to “undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and to promote the illegal and brutal aggression by Putin.”

Stano’s rebuttal was not widely covered by mainstream media outlets, but Politico (Lean Left bias) and The Independent (Lean Left bias) did pick the story up. Newsweek also updated its story on February 8 to reflect Stano’s comments.

Some notable European outlets that AllSides does not have rated for media bias like Euronews and AFP also covered Stano’s remarks.

Moreover, AllSides did not find any of the outlets that picked up Newsweek’s initial report to update their coverage with Stano’s comments. This means no outlet covered both the initial report of potential sanctions and the EU’s rebuttal, except Newsweek, which did so via an update.

AllSides did not review further video content from Rising to see if its hosts mentioned Stano’s comments.

A Notable Update, but Sanctions Unlikely

While the EU didn’t fully close the door on the idea of banning Carlson from its member states, it appears unlikely, as spokesperson Stano pointed out that an EU-wide ban would need to be ratified by all 27 members. Even if the idea were brought to the table, Hungary, an EU member with a conservative government, has already expressed opposition to the idea.

When looking for potential holes in media coverage, the AllSides Balanced Search can be a useful tool for dividing online search results by bias. Additionally, utilizing social media sites and other search engines can help paint a full picture of why certain media outlets may elect to cover or pass on a specific story that may appear newsworthy.

Andy Gorel is a News Editor and Bias Analyst at AllSides. He has a Center bias. 

This piece was reviewed by Julie Mastrine, Director of Media Bias Ratings and Marketing (Lean Right), Joseph Ratliff, AllSides Content Designer and News Editor (Lean Left bias), Malayna Bizier, Content Intern (Lean Right bias), and Henry Brechter, Editor-In-Chief (Center bias).