How Tucker Carlson’s two-hour interview of Russia’s Vladimir Putin went : NPR

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Former Fox News star Tucker Carlson flew to Moscow to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin, becoming the first American to do so since Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago.

From left: Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images; AlexanderKazakov/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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From left: Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images; AlexanderKazakov/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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Former Fox News star Tucker Carlson flew to Moscow to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin, becoming the first American to do so since Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago.

From left: Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images; AlexanderKazakov/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Right-wing TV provocateur Tucker Carlson interviewed Vladimir Putin in Moscow in an exchange that fueled both the Russian president’s anti-Ukrainian rhetoric and Carlson’s push for renewed relevance in his post-Fox career.

In a video recorded after the interview, Carlson told viewers that he considered Putin to be sincere, if not adept at making his case to an American audience. “He denied it, but it’s obvious that he is very hurt by the rejection from the West,” Carlson said. “Like many Russians, he hoped that the end of the Cold War would be an invitation from Russia to Europe.”

It is the first interview Putin has given to an American since the Russian invasion two years ago.

The pairing shouldn’t be a surprise. Carlson has been routinely adored by the Kremlin’s propaganda media; Clips of him attacking the Biden administration’s support for Ukraine have been routinely broadcast, for example. Russian media has fawned over Carlson this week, giving her comings and goings in Moscow similar treatment to American media coverage of Taylor Swift.

Carlson filmed a video to promote the interview on the rooftop of the Ritz Carlton Hotel near Red Square, a location that, according to Russian journalist Yevgenia Albats, spoke volumes about the respect the Kremlin had for Carlson.

“Its roof is controlled by one of the KGB’s successors, the Federal Security Service,” he says. aware on X, formerly known as Twitter. “None of us, nor any other foreign journalist, except Oliver Stone, had the luxury of reporting from the roof.”

Few have done more than Carlson to elevate the Russian leader as a figure of admiration in Republican circles, just as he has boosted the otherwise relatively obscure Viktor Orban, Hungary’s autocratic leader, will have star status.

In that promotional video, Carlson had said that he wanted to interview Putin about the war in Ukraine to learn the truth, and because other American journalists were too biased against Russia to want to do so.

This was clearly false; Reporters from CNN and BBC and executives from NPR and Fox were among those who said their networks would be eager to interview Putin without conditions. Even the Kremlin contradicted Carlson’s claims, saying he had received and rejected “exceptionally one-sided” U.S. media requests.

So, was it a compelling interview to hold a wartime leader to account?

A retelling of the story

Putin dominated the conversation, which lasted more than two hours, with long discursive asides based on propaganda themes to argue that Russia’s right to eastern Ukraine dates back centuries. (Ukrainian leaders and many historians question his interpretation of the region’s history.)

The Russian leader blamed the Ukrainians for the 2022 invasion. Carlson did not question Putin’s framework. He also did not use the word “invasion” to describe the deployment of Russian troops and missiles into Ukraine that started the war.

“We were protecting our people, ourselves, our homeland and our future,” Putin told Carlson, according to the interpreter of the exchange.

Putin seemed to have conducted opposition research worthy of the KGB agent he once was. At points, he criticized Carlson for having studied history and applying (unsuccessfully) for a position at the Central Intelligence Agency.

At the end of the interview, Carlson pressured Putin to release Evan Gershkovichto Wall Street Journal reporter imprisoned by Russian authorities almost a year ago accused of espionage, accusations that the newspaper strongly rejects. He suggested that Putin should not use Gershkovich as a pawn in exchange for, say, the release of a Russian spy.

“The guy is obviously not a spy, he’s a kid,” Carlson said of Gershkovich. “And maybe he was breaking the law in some way, but he’s not a super spy and everyone knows it. And in return they keep him hostage, which is true. With respect, it’s true. And everyone knows it’s true “.

Carlson did not mention the fate of Alsosu Kurmasheva, with dual American and Russian citizenship, a reporter for the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty network. She was detained and charged last year with failing to register as a foreign agent.

And Carlson, notably, did not press Putin on the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court for him and his child welfare commissioner over war crimes allegations.

“I’m from La Jolla, California. I’m not criticizing Putin. Please,” Carlson said in the post-interview video. She later said that “professional liars in Washington” want to convince the public that Putin is a modern-day Adolf Hitler, and called State Department officials idiots for thinking Russia has expansionist ambitions in Poland or other countries.

“We are governed by madmen: the president and that poisonous imbecile, [Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria] Nuland,” Carlson said.

Carlson has spent years attacking those who argued that the Russian regime sought to sow discord in the 2016 election through online disinformation, that former President Donald Trump’s campaign took advantage of the chaos and that some of Trump’s key allies had ties to the Russians. . Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, give up after it was revealed that he had lied about specific political discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States before taking office.

Carlson has also spent much of his time trolling both his former network and Trump critics, while launching into defense of those who laid siege to the US Capitol in January 2021 in an effort to prevent certification of victory. of President Biden in 2020, despite the protests of some. from his colleagues at Fox.

A new beginning at X after Fox News

Fox News fired Carlson, then the network’s top star, last spring. Her key role in amplifying baseless allegations of fraud in the 2020 election was revealed in a defamation lawsuit against the network that led to a $787 million deal; Fox paid another $12 million to resolve accusations from a former producer that Carlson had created a sexist and intolerant workplace. The evidence that became public demonstrated Carlson’s widespread disdain: for his viewers, Trump, his journalist colleagues and, in particular, the executives who ran his network.

After being ousted from Fox, Carlson moved his operation to Twitter, saying it was the last great bastion of free speech. He then launched the Tucker Carlson digital network.

Carlson has used that platform to interview subjects such as extremist conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who declared bankruptcy after the families of schoolchildren murdered in a Connecticut massacre won a billion-dollar settlement against him; Martin Shkreli, former pharmaceutical executive convicted of securities fraud; US Representative Majorie Taylor-Greene, known for embracing conspiracy theories; and the right-wing social media troll who calls himself Catturd.

For a former cable TV star looking to insinuate himself once again into the national conversation, Carlson was thwarted Thursday by two current presidents and one former president. News about President Biden being accused of memory lapses by a special prosecutor overshadowed the fall of Carlson’s video. The Russian president’s tendentious historical statements took over the interview. And, of course, there was Trump, whose ability to appear on the Colorado ballot dominated a historic Supreme Court argument that same day.

It’s hard to gauge how wide an audience Carlson now has. (Statistics on opinions about

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