Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host, has announced plans to interview President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, marking what could be Putin’s first formal interaction with a Western media figure since the onset of the Ukraine invasion in February 2022.
This development, reported by The New York Times, hints at a deliberate attempt by the Russian leader to directly communicate with American conservatives at a time when U.S. aid to Ukraine faces congressional hurdles.
Carlson’s Moscow visit and the prospective interview underscore a nuanced diplomatic play. While the Kremlin has yet to confirm the interview, Russian state media’s extensive coverage of Carlson’s activities in Moscow fuels anticipation. This interaction could serve dual purposes: offering Carlson a significant media moment following his departure from Fox News, and providing Putin a platform to disseminate his narrative to an American audience potentially receptive to his “traditional values” stance.
The context of this interview is critical, coming at a juncture when U.S. support for Ukraine is politically contentious. With a pivotal Senate vote on Ukrainian aid looming, the timing suggests a strategic effort to influence American public opinion and political discourse. Putin, having lost a key conduit for his views in the U.S. with Carlson’s Fox News exit, appears poised to leverage this opportunity to sway American conservatives, many of whom, like Carlson and former President Donald Trump, express skepticism about further U.S. involvement in Ukraine.
Carlson’s alignment with Putin on issues like opposition to L.G.B.T. rights further illustrates the ideological synergy between certain American conservative factions and Putin’s vision. This planned interview could amplify divisions within the U.S. over its Ukraine policy, especially if Putin hints at a willingness to negotiate an end to the war. Such a message, delivered through Carlson, could resonate with a segment of the American populace and politicians who advocate for a reevaluation of U.S. involvement in Ukraine.
The reactions to Carlson’s proposed interview with Putin are polarized, reflecting the deep political and ideological fissures within the United States. While figures like former Representative Adam Kinzinger condemn Carlson’s actions as traitorous, others, such as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, celebrate the initiative as a counter to pro-Ukraine sentiments supported by a majority of Americans.