ENTERTAINMENT

Russia says former Fox News host Tucker Carlson has interviewed Vladimir Putin

Feb 7, 2024, 12:13 PM

Tucker Carlson speaks during 2022 FOX Nation Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock...

HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 17: Tucker Carlson speaks during 2022 FOX Nation Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood on November 17, 2022 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been interviewed by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the Kremlin confirmed Wednesday. It is Putin’s first interview to a Western media figure since his full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

Carlson had released a video from Moscow on Tuesday in which he said he would be interviewing Putin. Carlson claimed that Western journalists had interviewed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy multiple times but could not be “bothered” to interview the Russian president.

The interview will be posted Thursday, according to Justin Wells, head of programming at Carlson’s streaming network. It’s not known what was said in the interview.

Putin has heavily limited his contact with international media since he launched the war in Ukraine in February 2022. Russian authorities have cracked down on media, forcing some independent Russian outlets to close, blocking others and ordering a number of foreign reporters to leave the country. Two journalists working for U.S. news organizations — The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Alsu Kurmasheva — are in jail on charges they reject.

Western journalists were invited to Putin’s annual press conference in December — the first since the war began — but only two were given the chance to ask a question.

WHY TUCKER CARLSON?

Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that Carlson was chosen for the interview because “he has a position which differs” from other English-language media.

Before his exit from Fox, Carlson repeatedly questioned the validity of U.S. support for Ukraine following the Russian invasion, and he’s wondered why Americans are told to hate Putin so much. His commentaries were frequently circulated on Russian state-run media.

In his video this week, Carlson denounced “corrupt” American media outlets for “fawning pep sessions” with Zelenskyy that he said were designed to get America into a war with eastern Europe and pay for it.

Peskov also rejected Carlson’s suggestion that no Western journalists had submitted requests to interview Putin. He said the Kremlin has received many requests from large Western television channels and newspapers which, he asserted, “take a one-sided position.” Carlson’s position, Peskov said, “is in no way pro-Russian, nor pro-Ukrainian, but rather pro-American.”

The Associated Press is among the outlets that has requested an interview with Putin.

“Does Tucker really think we journalists haven’t been trying to interview President Putin every day since his full scale invasion of Ukraine?” CNN’s Christiane Amanpour said on X. “It’s absurd — we’ll continue to ask for an interview, just as we have for years now.”

Carlson’s trip comes as he has planted himself on former President Donald Trump’s side in a growing split in the Republican party over Putin and the Ukraine war. Trump has pushed to cut off aid to Ukraine, and the GOP majority controlling the House of Representatives has complied.

While many Republicans are critical of the Russian president and his invasion, Trump and others have argued the United States has no interest helping Ukraine defend itself.

Carlson has also traveled to interview Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has fashioned himself into an icon for conservative populists across the globe and been Putin’s closest ally in the European Union.

HOW THE INTERVIEW WILL BE DISTRIBUTED

The interview with Putin, Carlson said in his video, will be distributed for free on his website and on X, formerly known as Twitter. Carlson, who was fired by Fox News in April, announced he was starting his own streaming service in December.

Fox has offered no explanation for firing Carlson, who was its top-rated personality at the time. Like many people who leave the network that is conservative America’s most popular news outlet, he has struggled to remain in the public eye.

Carlson worked at Fox News for more than a decade and hosted a show where he discussed conspiracy theories about Russia and the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Russian state media on Wednesday extensively covered Carlson’s visit.

Vladimir Solovyev, one of Russia’s most famous television hosts, said the interview would “break through the blockade and the narrative that exists” in Western media which, he said, focuses on “Putin’s unprovoked, brutal invasion of Ukraine.”

Solovyev, whose show is often critical of Western media, said Carlson is “feared” because he does not align with that narrative.

___

Associated Press writer Nicholas Riccardi contributed to this report.

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Russia says former Fox News host Tucker Carlson has interviewed Vladimir Putin