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5 Feb, 2024 09:58

Tucker Carlson coy on rumored Putin interview

The conservative US journalist declined to say whether a one-on-one with the Russian president is in the works
Tucker Carlson coy on rumored Putin interview

US political commentator Tucker Carlson, who is currently in Moscow, has refused to confirm or deny that he plans to interview President Vladimir Putin, merely answering the question with “we’ll see.” 

The former Fox News host, who now has a show on X (formerly Twitter), was approached by a fan at a Russian hotel, the newspaper Izvestia reported on Monday, publishing a video of the short encounter. The two exchanged pleasantries, with Carlson saying it was his first visit to Russia. 

“I wanted to talk to [people] and walk around and see how it was doing. And it was doing very well,” he said, giving his impressions of the country.

Images of Carlson in Moscow first appeared online last Saturday, sparking speculation about his trip. The TV personality made no secret of his wish to interview the Russian leader, and claimed that his backchannel efforts to organize such a meeting a few years ago made him the target of US surveillance.

Carlson’s presence on Russian soil has been criticized by some public figures in the West. Bill Browder, a controversial Russia-based financier who eventually fled the country, declared on X that Carlson was “remarkably stupid or consciously evil” to make the trip.

Neoconservative writer Bill Kristol suggested banning the American citizen from returning to the US “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” and said he disapproved of the trip the same way he didn’t like “Jane Fonda going to Hanoi in 1972”.

The actress and anti-war activist suffered a backlash in the US for her two-week tour to North Vietnam at the peak of the conflict. Kristol was a student at Harvard at the time, eyeing a political career.

Others have supported Carlson. The man “has every right to interview Putin,” independent presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. said, adding that people in the US need “more transparency instead of less”.

During the filmed encounter in Moscow, Carlson suggested that the strong reaction to his trip was “crazy.”

When asked about Carlson’s visit on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was not the role of his office to comment on the movements of foreign journalists. If Putin is interviewed by one, the press will be informed accordingly, he added.

Putin’s office previously said a Carlson interview with the Russian president had not been ruled out.