Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host, has secured an interview with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, marking Putin’s first formal engagement with Western news media since the onset of the Ukraine invasion, as reported by The New York Times. This move is interpreted as Putin’s attempt to directly appeal to American conservatives, at a time when U.S. support for Ukraine is under scrutiny in Congress.
Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, confirmed that Carlson conducted the interview, emphasizing the significance of this dialogue amid the current geopolitical tensions. Carlson’s trip to Moscow and his interactions there have been closely monitored by Russian state media, highlighting the anticipation surrounding this interview.
The choice of Carlson as an interviewer by Putin is not coincidental. Carlson has been a vocal critic of further American intervention in Ukraine and has previously echoed some of Putin’s sentiments regarding “traditional values.” This alignment in viewpoints offers Putin a unique platform to address and possibly sway a segment of the American population that is skeptical of continued U.S. involvement in Ukraine.
The timing of the interview is critical, as it comes when American aid to Kyiv faces obstacles in Congress. The stalled aid represents a contentious issue, with increasing division among U.S. lawmakers regarding the extent of support for Ukraine. Putin’s discussion with Carlson could potentially influence the American public opinion and, by extension, the political discourse on this matter.
Moreover, the interview underscores the Kremlin’s strategic media outreach. By engaging with Carlson, Putin aims to disseminate his narrative to an audience that might be receptive to his views, especially on issues like opposing LGBT rights, which have been pivotal in Putin’s portrayal of Russia as a bastion of conservative values.
This outreach comes at a cost. The Kremlin has been criticized for its crackdown on Western journalists and the suppression of independent media coverage within Russia. The arrest of Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges, vehemently denied by him, his employer, and the U.S. government, highlights the risks faced by journalists in Russia.
Carlson’s claim of being the sole Western journalist attempting to interview Putin has been contested, with numerous Western media outlets, including The New York Times, having sought interviews with the Russian president. This assertion, along with the Kremlin’s selective engagement with the media, reflects the broader challenge of impartial coverage in today’s polarized media landscape.
The interview’s potential impact is manifold. Besides offering Putin a direct line to American conservatives, it could exacerbate the political divide within the U.S. over support for Ukraine. The negotiation of such interviews, especially with figures like Putin, who has restricted media freedom in Russia, raises important questions about the balance between newsworthiness and the ethical considerations of providing a platform to authoritarian leaders.