Putin complains about Tucker Carlson’s lack of ‘aggressive’ and ‘sharp’ questions in interview

Putin said he was surprised the former Fox news anchor did not interrupt him more in the highly stage-managed sit-down

Arpan Rai
Thursday 15 February 2024 10:36 GMT
Hillary Clinton dubs Tucker Carlson a ‘useful idiot’ ahead of Putin interview

Vladimir Putin has criticised ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson for his lack of “sharp” questions in his interview last week in Moscow, in the latest example of the Russian president hitting out at Carlson over what was essenitally a Kremlin propaganda exercise.

The Kremlin has undertaken a crackdown on dissent over the war in Ukraine, with prison sentences being handed out to many of those who criticise the army or Russian leadership. The Kremlin said Putin agreed to an interview with Carlson because his lack of criticism of Russia’s invasion during his Fox News run was different from the “one-sided” reporting of the Ukraine conflict by many news outlets, with Western nations having spent billions of pounds to help Ukraine fight off Putin’s forces.

Despite the stage-managed nature of the interview, talking to pro-Kremlin journalist Pavel Zarubin, Putin said he wanted Carlson to behave more “aggressively”, giving him at least a chance to reply just as pointedly. Mr Putin subjected his host to a half-hour lecture on history as he sat down for a rare first interview with an American journalist since before Russia invaded Ukraine nearly two years ago.

"To be honest, I thought that he would behave aggressively and ask so-called sharp questions. I was not just prepared for this, I wanted it, because it would give me the opportunity to respond in the same way," the Russian president said in his first comments after the interview.

Putin said he was surprised the former Fox news anchor did not interrupt him more.

“Frankly, I did not get full satisfaction from this interview.”

Many have criticised Carlson’s conversation with Putin on the Tucker Carlson Network, a new streaming platform that launched after the TV show host was fired from Fox News last year.

Speaking on his new CNN show, The Chris Wallace Show, Wallace said: “Tucker Carlson showed up in Moscow this week to interview Vladimir Putin.

“It turned out to be anything but an interview. Putin droned on for two hours and seven minutes while Tucker sat there like an eager puppy”.

Occasionally but rarely, the host said, “he got in a question”.

Mr Wallace criticised Carlson’s line of questioning, including that the right-wing TV show host did not ask why Putin invaded Ukraine, why his military is targeting civilians in the ongoing conflict or about the country’s war crimes.

“A reporter can ask Putin a tough question if he wants a real interview,” Wallace said before the programme cut to a clip of him interviewing Putin and asking, “Why is it that so many of the people that oppose Vladimir Putin end up dead or close to it?”

He continued: “But apparently that’s not why Tucker went to Moscow. During the Cold War, gullible westerners who spread Soviet propaganda were dismissed as useful idiots but calling Tucker that is unfair to useful idiots.”

The term “useful idiot” – a term used during the Cold War for Westerners who spread Kremlin propaganda of their own accord – was used by Hillary Clinton to refer to Carlson in a separate MSNBC interview before his sit-down with Putin aired.

Carlson has been heavily used in Russian state propaganda as a way to push Russia’s distorted view of the conflict, which was started under the baseless pretence that Ukraine was being led by neo-Nazis, a particularly galling claim as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish and lost relatives in the Holocaust.

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