Putin likely chose Tucker Carlson because of his ignorance of Russia, and it showed

  • Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed Russia’s Vladimir Putin. 
  • Putin likely chose Carlson because of his ignorance of Russia and its history. 
  • Putin steamrolled Carlson with two hours of dubious history that he used to justify war on Ukraine. 

Tucker Carlson claimed to be venturing into territory no other Western journalist had dared in interviewing Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin itself had hyped Carlson’s credentials, claiming he was the only Western journalist granted permission to talk to Putin in two years because his position is “in clear contrast to the position of the traditional Anglo-Saxon media.”

But when the interview was released on Thursday, another likely reason Putin chose the former Fox News host for the two-hour interview became clear.

For much of it, Carlson sat in silence as Putin expounded his dubious historical theories about Ukraine, aired his grievances, and pushed MAGA talking points designed to appeal to Carlson’s core audience.

“This is a stage for Big Vlad to showboat,” remarked Ian Garner, an expert on Russian propaganda, on X, as Putin seized control of the interview.

Putin has used these theories to justify his brutal invasion of Ukraine, where, according to the UN Human Rights Council, Russia has used mass killings, rape, and torture in an attempt to subjugate the country. Putin even published an essay on the theories just ahead of the invasion.

It matters because Putin is seeking to erode support for Ukraine among the GOP voters who form Carlson’s core audience, as congressional Republicans continue to block a $66 billion Ukraine aid bill.

Carlson seemed to lack the knowledge, or willingness, to offer even the most cursory pushback. He can perhaps be forgiven for appearing bemused when Putin started lecturing him on obscure historical figures, such as Rurik of Novgorod, but offered no challenge even as Putin discussed more recent events.

For instance, he allowed Putin to claim that the 2014 Maidan protests, in which Ukrainians took to the streets to demand freedom from Russian control, were a CIA plot. There is no evidence of this.

He also allowed Putin to claim, unchallenged, that Russia sought peace with Ukraine before launching the 2022 invasion. There is no evidence of this, with Russia illegally seizing swaths of Ukraine in 2014 and stoking conflict in the east of the country.

Putin was also able to state, unchallenged, that the invasion was a bid to “de-Nazify” the country, and not a campaign of revanchist conquest it is in reality.

Putin was given a two-hour platform to further undermine Republican support for Ukraine, and offer an alternative version of history in which the US and NATO are the true aggressors.

Carlson will likely see a huge boost in his audience from the interview. Since his ouster from Fox News in 2023, he’s been reduced to interviewing fringe figures such as an online conspiracy theorist who goes by the name “Catturd.”

But in increasing his own profile, he’s allowed Putin to present his alternative and vastly destructive historical theories to a whole new audience.

In response to earlier allegations that he’s a pawn of Putin, Carlson told Axios in 2022: “I could care less.”

“It’s too stupid,” he added. “I don’t speak Russian. I’ve never been to Russia. I’m not that interested in Russia. All I care about is the fortunes of the United States because I have four children who live here.”

That ignorance on Russia may be coming back to haunt him.

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