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Gotta watch it
Tucker Carlson’s Putin interview gave Russian leader a platform to boost his own cause – and that of Donald Trump
By Inderjeet Parmar, City, University of London
Former prime time Fox News host Tucker Carlson – long known as a public cheerleader for Donald Trump – has conducted a wide-ranging two-hour interview with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Carlson, who has consistently argued Russia’s case for its invasion of Ukraine, posted his interview on both his own site and on Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter). There – according to Kremlin mouthpiece Pravda – it chalked up more than 90 million views within hours of being posted.
As the pair faced each other in a large, virtually empty Kremlin office, Putin immediately put Carlson on the defensive, demanding: “Are we having a talk show or serious conversation?” He then gave his interlocutor a 25-minute history lesson – a mix of mythical and actual history going back over a millennium – to show both how Ukrainians and Russians were not really separate peoples.
He also took pains to assert from the start who was running the interview early on. It was a classic Putin powerplay. After that, it was plain sailing for Putin.
The interview was wide-ranging: Ukraine, China, multi-polarity, Putin’s opinion of several former US presidents as well as his predecessors Lenin, Stalin and Yeltsin. Discussing US politics, Putin touched on Elon Musk, Donald Trump and what he called the warlike “mindsets” of US foreign policy elites.
Nato slammed, Maga boosted
When it came to the war in Ukraine, predictably the Russia president blamed what he identified as Nato expansionism and threats to his country’s security. He recounted how he had offered a hand of friendship to the US: “Please don’t [expand Nato eastward]. We are as bourgeois now as you are. We are a market economy, and there is no Communist party power. Let’s negotiate.” But his overtures were spurned by the US elites.
Also predictably, both interviewer and interviewee took the opportunity to boost Donald Trump and his Make America Great Again (Maga) voter base.