Tucker Carlson’s trip to Russia came as a shock to many, except for the Russian propagandists who have been lobbying for the fulfillment of his long-standing wish to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin. In recent years, the head of RT Margarita Simonyan pleaded with the Kremlin to make appropriate arrangements, and state TV host Vladimir Solovyov offered Carlson a job on his channel, Solovyov Live. Like many Putin propagandists, Simonyan realized that Carlson’s softball sit-down with Putin would be even more of a propaganda boon than his pro-Russian, anti-Ukrainian, and borderline anti-American rhetoric over the years.
While Solovyov had to settle for Scott Ritter, it seems like Simonyan may have finally got her wish. State media reported that Carlson’s minivan, full of TV equipment, had left his hotel and traveled to the presidential administration Monday evening. During the same timeframe, Putin’s motorcade reportedly traveled towards the Kremlin.
On Tuesday, Alexei Venediktov, former editor of Ekho Moskvy radio station, hinted in a post on X (formerly Twitter), “As I understand, Tucker Carlson got what he wanted.”
The timing was quite obviously chosen to coincide with Russia’s upcoming presidential election. This event is merely one of the performances in the Kremlin’s Kabuki theater of democracy, where even Putin’s rivals acknowledge they have no hope of actually winning, and merely hope to stay alive and remain out of prison. However, being able to show that a well-known American figure is willing to bend the knee to an international pariah is a great opportunity for Putin to re-assert his dominance and standing.
There is still no confirmation of an interview between Carlson and Putin, but a Russian government official anonymously told The Moscow Times, “The boss [Putin] will win the election without Tucker’s help, but access to an American audience through Carlson during the heated struggle between Biden and Trump is again an opportunity to exert that proverbial influence on the U.S. election, given Carlson’s huge audience.” He also noted, “our propaganda will blast Carlson’s words criticizing the Democrats, which means he will confirm our hawks’ line up to the tiniest detail.”
A source close to the presidential administration told The Moscow Times, “Tucker has been expected here for a long time. He is welcome here.”
Carlson’s arrival in Moscow threw Russian state TV media into a frenzy of detailed coverage, showcasing Carlson’s visit to the ballet, his luncheon, visiting a Kamchatka stand at the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy, and going for a ride on a subway. During Monday’s broadcast of the state TV show 60 Minutes, host Evgeny Popov gleefully declared that during his exploration of Moscow, Carlson “charged his smartphone via a USB port and connected to a fast and free WiFi internet.” Popov proudly added, “American citizens can’t even dream about such wonders of civilization!”
To underscore the depth of Carlson’s commitment to the Russian cause, state media programs pointed out that in America, he is called out as a traitor and his trip is being compared to Jane Fonda’s visit to Vietnam in 1972. During Sunday’s broadcast of a show At Dawn on channel Solovyov Live, former New York Times correspondent John Varoli feverishly exclaimed that Carlson could be “liquidated” at any moment, describing him as “Joe Biden’s enemy number one.” In Russia, where the killings or imprisonments of journalists and dissidents are quite routine, an absurd assertion that the Biden administration is trying to hunt down Tucker Carlson might sound believable.
During Monday’s broadcast of The Evening With Vladimir Solovyov, the host claimed, “The main problem in America right now is what to do with Tucker Carlson!” Solovyov alleged that previous interviews American journalists conducted with Putin were “chopped up,” re-edited, and used “out of context.” He fumed, “In our journalism, this sort of thing is unacceptable by definition… it’s taboo!” Solovyov assumed that this wouldn’t happen with Carlson and Putin’s potential interview which he thought would be showcased in its entirety.
Earlier on Monday, recognizing the fired host of Fox News as one of their own, the Russian Union of Journalists offered Tucker Carlson to join the organization, pay the dues, and abide by its rules.
During The Evening With Vladimir Solovyov, political scientist Sergey Mikheyev noted, “A few words about Tucker Carlson, since he is a popular figure. Lately, when I see him, I think there is something wrong with his psyche, because everyone is pressuring him. His eyebrows are raised, he constantly looks worried. He used to look better than this.”
Mikheyev said, “If Tucker dares to broadcast this interview in the United States, first and foremost, this will blow up their informational blockade from within.” Mikheyev predicted that Putin’s interview would be more interesting than anything that is uttered by American politicians, claiming that both the Democratic and the Republican elites are “uninteresting and stupid.”
Mikheyev said he was shocked to discover how many Americans believe that Michelle Obama was born a man. He intimated that if they were gullible enough to believe something like that, Tucker’s interview with Putin is bound to have some “interesting” consequences. Solovyov chimed in to add, “It will blow them up into pieces!” During a discussion about the United States, Mikheyev wistfully noted, “God willing, there will be a civil war!”