Tucker Carlson has announced he will interview Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming days – a move which has drawn both fierce criticism and commendation.
A resounding question on social media since Carlson confirmed the interview has been, quite simply, ‘Why?’
Carlson said in a video filmed from a high-rise in the Russian capitol: ‘There are risks to conducting an interview like this – obviously – so we’ve thought about it carefully over many months.’
He went on to say that he is ‘doing his job’ in journalism to inform people, calling out Americans who are ‘not informed’ but should know more about the Russia-Ukraine War.
The United States has allocated more than £60,000,000,000 in military aid for Ukraine since February 2022 – a point which Carlson has criticised in the past.
Carlson made the announcement yesterday (Picture: Reuters)
Patrick Fox pointed out that the interview will still have ‘conditional guardrails’ put up by Putin (Picture: AP)
Carlson did stress that he paid for the trip to Russia himself, and also criticised other Western journalists who interviewed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but not Putin.
He referred to the interviews with Zelenskyy – whom Carlson has previously referred to as a ‘dictator’ – as ‘fawning pep sessions’ for Ukraine to receive further military aid, and added: ‘That is not journalism – it is government propaganda.’
In a further remark that has sparked debate, Carlson said: ‘Meanwhile, not a single Western journalist has bothered to interview Vladimir Putin.’
The claim has enraged other Western journalists, who have been repeatedly denied an audience with Putin since the beginning of the Ukraine war.
BBC Russia editor Steve Rosenberg said Carlson’s claim about Western journalists was ‘interesting’, and posted: ‘We’ve lodged several requests with the Kremlin in the last 18 months. Always a “no” for us.’
The Kremlin came out today to counter Carlson’s claim, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling reporters: ‘We receive many requests for interviews with the president. He [Tucker] has a position that differs from the rest [of Western media].
‘It’s not pro-Russian by any means, and it’s not pro-Ukrainian; rather, it’s pro-American.’
Western journalist Evan Gershkovich is in prison in Russia now (Picture: AP)
Alsu Kurmasheva is also in prison for working as a journalist in Russia (Picture: Reuters)
Putin critic and journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered on Putin’s birthday in 2006 (Picture: Getty)
Peskov may be referring to Western outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and Radio Free Europe – two publications whose reporters have been arrested in Russia while trying to report on the war.
But despite Russia’s contentious past with allowing press freedom, Carlson’s primarily conservative followership has praised his decision to post an ‘unedited’ interview with Putin.
Republican representative Marjorie Taylor Greene posted on X: ‘Democrats and their propagandists in the media are spasming at the prospect of Tucker Carlson interviewing Putin… They HATE when someone like Tucker goes “off script”.
‘We have a free press in this country and it’s people like Tucker Carlson who we depend on to speak the truth!’
Critics of Carlson have shared worries that he will become a mouthpiece for Putin, rather than ask genuine questions during his high-profile interview.
Carlson previously referred to Zelenskyy as a ‘dictator’ (Picture: Reuters)
Marjorie Taylor Green (left) has come to his defence for interviewing Putin (Picture: Shutterstock)
Earlier this week, Keir Giles, an expert with the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, told Metro.co.uk: ‘If Tucker Carlson does interview Vladimir Putin, he has made clear whose side he is on – and it is not that of the United States.’
After his interview is shared, Carlson said he hopes viewers can ‘like a free citizen and not a slave, you can decide for yourself.’
Carlson would not be the first to interview a leader as blood-soaked as Putin – who has been directly linked to the murders, poisonings, and imprisonments of many Russian critics and foreign journalists.
Patrick Fox, a foreign policy and military analyst at University College London pointed out on X: ‘This used to be normal for journalists.
‘They’ve interviewed terrorists, dictators, and serial killers. In the grand scheme of things they make headlines and are sensational, but rarely have lasting impact.
‘This is not the uncontrolled environment Carlson insinuates that it is. Putin has no qualms about imprisoning or killing journalists, or anyone else who draws his ire by openly and effectively dissenting from his actions.
‘This interview will have had conditional guardrails put up by Putin before he agreed to it. Some things will not be asked, or will only be asked in certain ways. What is and isn’t asked and how, will be interesting.’
It remains unclear when exactly Carlson’s interview with Putin will air.
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