It would be one thing if the much-hyped sit down from the Kremlin was merely fawning, but instead Carlson abdicated any sense of being a significant participant in the interview to let the internationally-scorned Russian president deliver what is for all practical purposes a stump speech. On the handful of occasions when Carlson actually did try to get a word or a question in, Putin knocks him down faster than a shot of vodka at a wedding banquet.
Name-dropping Stalin, Dostoyevsky, the slow fall of Roman Empire, and “how Russian people think more about the eternal,” Putin rambled on and on for much of the interview with little interjection or fact checking from the bemused-looking Carlson. In fact, for all Carlson’s incorrect claims that American media aren’t interested in talking to Putin since his invasion of Ukraine two years ago, this near monologue is reminiscent of Oliver Stone’s 2017 reverential Showtime documentary on Putin.
At least Oscar-winner Stone had some good movie recommendations for Putin, with Dr. Strangelove, and a mild sense of humor and mischief. Also, even Oliver Stone wouldn’t be able to sit there so passively while Putin said Ukraine actually started the war back in 2014 and the 2022 invasion was Russia’s effort to stop the conflict.
“We haven’t achieved our aims yet, because one of them is de-Nazification,” Putin told Carlson in language aimed at the domestic audience (and bending history). “This means the prohibition of all kinds of neo-Nazi movements,” Putin continued.
At no point did Carlson challenge Putin, or counter with even the basic fact that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish and had members of his family killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Putin also said that the bitter war can be over quickly if America would “negotiate.” The frustrated warlord, who saw his own mercenaries revolt at one point, actually claimed here that the war could have been over a while ago. Instead, according to Vladimir Putin, Zelensky’s government “threw away all these agreements and obeyed the instructions of Western countries, European countries and the United States to fight Russia to the bitter end.”
Having set off a firestorm of criticism since he revealed earlier this week that he was in Moscow to talk to Putin ahead of Russia’s latest preordained election, perhaps Carlson was only after the attention the interview has garnered him and his new-ish TCN platform. Much smarter than he commonly lets on, one has to assume that’s one of the main reasons Carlson fumbled most of his opportunity to speak directly with the isolated dictator.
Whether or not the Kremlin actually had final cut over this pre-recorded interview or not, they needn’t have worried. Carlson has taken the contrarian stance to praise Putin for a number of years, and this was a continuation of that practice.
It took about one hour and 55 minutes of the two-hour sit-down before Carlson came to life.
However, by that point, his attempts at pressing Putin over the imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich proved inadequate. “He was receiving classified confidential information, and he was doing it covertly,” Putin insisted of the journalist, who has been charged with espionage and behind bars for almost a year. “He was caught red-handed when he was receiving this information,” Putin went on to say.
Still, never one to miss a chance to play human pawns in the grand game of statecraft, Putin also said that a deal to spring Gershkovich is possible. “At the end of the day, it does not make any sense to keep him in prison in Russia,” the former spy told Carlson of the Russia-based WSJ journalist. “We want the U.S. Special Services to think about how they can contribute to achieving the goals our special services are pursuing. We are ready to talk. Moreover, the talks are underway.”
It’s clear from the praise Putin’s interview is receiving from state media in Russia is that Tucker Carlson has proved to be a useful idiot – to note that old Russian expression for someone easily manipulated – to amplify the Kremlin’s version of reality.
In that sense, Carlson may be thankful to the DOJ’s damning report today on the probe into Joe Biden’s use of classified documents while out of office; It pulled attention from Carlson’s embarrassing Putin interview. Painting the 81-year-old POTUS as an “elderly man with a poor memory,” the report exonerated Biden’s handling of the top secret material. At the same time, spotlighting the reelection-seeking Biden’s greatest electoral vulnerability, it forced the admittedly elderly president to come out before the press tonight to prove he knows what’s going on.