CV NEWS FEED // Journalist Tucker Carlson released his much-anticipated interview with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on X (formerly Twitter) Thursday evening.
Carlson is the first journalist from a Western country to sit down with Putin since he invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Carlson filmed the interview on Tuesday in Moscow.
While many accused Carlson of supporting the autocratic leader, other observers pointed out that the journalist asked Putin hard-hitting questions during the interview.
“Tucker Carlson spent roughly 10 to 15 minutes imploring Vladimir Putin to release the [Wall Street Journal’s] Evan Gershkovich, vehemently arguing why it’s unjust to keep him,” wrote journalist Glenn Greenwald on X.
Greenwald emphasized that Carlson pressed Putin on Gershkovich’s imprisonment “in a way that no corporate journalist would ever dare do with Biden about Assange.”
Journalist Yashar Ali made a similar point in an X post.
“Tucker Carlson did ask Vladimir Putin about Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich who was arrested by the [Russian Federal Security Service (FSB)] on false charges of espionage and has been wrongly detained for nearly a year,” Ali wrote.
Ali posted a transcript of the exchange between Carlson and Putin in which Carlson defended his fellow American journalist.
“[T]he guy’s obviously not a spy,” Carlson pressed the Russian president:
He’s a kid, and maybe he was breaking your law in some way, but he’s not a super spy and everybody knows that. And he’s being held hostage in exchange, which is true, with respect. It’s true. And everyone knows it’s true.
“He’s a 32-year-old newspaper reporter,” Carlson said later in the interview. “I hope you let him out.”
Conservative commentator Benny Johnson wrote that Carlson “may literally bring peace to the world with this interview.”
“Lies create war and slavery,” he continued on X. “The truth shall set you free.”
Not all conservatives shared Johnson’s sentiment. Attorney Ron Coleman expressed words of caution.
“Pro tip: Most politicians lie routinely. Dictators lie even more,” he wrote.
“Be careful about tweeting things Putin tells Tucker Carlson as if they vindicate some take of yours,” Coleman added.
In an introductory monologue before the interview, Carlson stated that the conversation was “primarily about … the war in Ukraine: how it started, what’s happening, and most pressingly, how it might end.”
“At the beginning of the interview [I] asked [Putin] the most obvious question, which is, ‘Why did you do this?’” Carlson said. “And the answer we got shocked us.”
“Putin went on for a very long time, probably half an hour, about the history of Russia going back to the eighth century,” Carlson explained. “And honestly we thought this was a filibustering technique and found it annoying and interrupted him several times.”
In the end, however, Carlson concluded that Putin was “not filibustering” but “sincere[ly]” asserting his view that “Russia has a historic claim” to a part of Ukraine.
“There are risks to conducting an interview like this, obviously,” Carlson acknowledged in a Tuesday video statement posted to X. “We’ve thought about it carefully over many months. Here’s why we’re doing it.”
“First, because it’s our job,” he stressed. “We’re in journalism. Our duty is to inform people.”
Carlson argued that mainstream media outlets are corrupt and “lie to their readers and viewers … mostly by omission.”
He added that in the two years since Putin escalated the Russo-Ukrainian War, American media have conducted “scores of interviews with Ukrainian President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy.” Carlson added that he had also requested an interview with Zelenskyy and hoped he would accept.
But the interviews [Zelenskyy has] already done in the United States are not traditional interviews. They are fawning pep sessions, specifically designed to amplify Zelenskyy’s demand that the U.S. enter more deeply into a war in Eastern Europe and pay for it.
“That is not journalism,” Carlson said. “It is government propaganda.”
The Daily Caller – a media source Carlson co-founded in 2010 – reported hours before the controversial interview aired that the journalist “could be threatened with sanctions by the European Union [EU].”
Urmas Paet of Estonia, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), commented: “Carlson is not being a real journalist since he has clearly expressed his sympathy for the Russian regime and Putin and has constantly disparaged Ukraine, the victim of Russian aggression.”
MEP Guy Verhofstadt called Carlson a “war criminal” and said it “seems logical” for the EU’s External Action Service consider sanctioning him.
Verhofstadt served as Belgium’s prime minister from 1999 to 2008. The European Parliament is the EU’s legislative body.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro blasted the European proponents of sanctions as “idiots.”
“Guys, way to show that your criticisms of Putin’s crackdowns on the press are totally hypocritical,” he wrote on X.
Shapiro has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine in its war against Putin’s Russia.
The Biden administration dismissed the interview in the runup to its release.
“I don’t think the American people are going to be swayed by one single interview,” White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters Thursday. “I think anybody that watches that interview … remember you’re listening to Vladmir Putin and you shouldn’t take at face value anything he has to say.”
Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. defended Carlson’s decision to bring Putin on his X show.
“The legacy media and Democrat establishment are upset at [Carlson] for simply doing his job,” Kennedy wrote. “Americans can handle thought-provoking conversations. We can handle dangerous thoughts or contrary ideas that don’t fit the MSM narrative. Let us decide for ourselves.”