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Putin walked away with a publicity victory after a polite interview with Tucker Carlson

(CNN) — Why Vladimir Putin gave an interview to Tucker Carlson is now clear.

During the more than two-hour meeting, the former Fox News host, now a commentator on an online show, largely avoided challenging the Russian dictatorship, whose brutal war against Ukraine has caused thousands of needless deaths. of the people. Those expecting a forceful confrontation must have been sorely disappointed by the long and rambling interview, which Tucker himself lost at times.

Instead of pressing Putin on a number of issues, including credible allegations that Russia has committed war crimes and the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Karlsson has given free rein to manipulate the public and tell his side of the story. Misleading it can be. At times, amid aired complaints, Putin appeared to lecture Carlson on historical events while the host looked on in amazement. Or to put it more bluntly, Carlson provided Putin with a platform to spread his propaganda to a global audience with little scrutiny of his claims.

“What you see from watching the first 45 minutes of this is that this is President Putin’s platform,” said Clarissa Ward, CNN’s chief international correspondent, adding that it was “obvious from the very beginning” of the interview that Carlson “wasn’t in my control.”

Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson interviews Vladimir Putin, airing on February 8, 2024. (Credit: Tucker Carlson Network)

In some cases, Karlsson even fed Putin stories. For example, Putin proposed an absurd deep state-style conspiracy theory that the US government is controlled not by its elected leaders but by the unelected powers of the Central Intelligence Agency who operate the president like a puppet from behind the scenes.

“So you’ve twice described American presidents as making decisions and then being undermined by their agency heads,” Carlson said after claiming Putin, summing up the Russian leader’s vicious narrative in a sobering way. “So it sounds like you’re describing a system that isn’t run by elected people, by your reckoning?”

“That’s right, that’s right,” Putin replied.

Carlson never asked a counter-question to challenge the absurdity.

It was a huge publicity win for Putin, who can now – and will – distort the meeting for his own purposes. If there was any doubt that Putin did not consider the meeting with Carlson a great victory, one should take a look at how his own state media covered the matter. Soon after Carlson posted this online, Putin’s spokesperson rushed to elaborate.

TASS featured the meeting as the top story on its home page, amplifying Putin’s claim that Ukraine is an “artificial state” and devoting an entire section of its website to exclusive coverage of the interview. RT, an English-language outlet now exiled from most of the Western world, aired significant portions of the interview.

“Vladimir Putin interview gets more than 20 million viewers in first two hours,” RT boasted in an on-screen graphic.

None of this should surprise us.

While Carlson was once a critic of the Russian government, in recent years he has become more sympathetic to the Putin-led state, pulling the Republican Party along with him. Karlsson’s comments on Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine are favorable to Kiev, but the right-wing extremist last year compared Volodymyr Zelensky to a worm.

That is why Putin agreed to an interview with Carlson, while genuine journalists who would have pressed the Russian leader on a number of critical issues have been denied access for years. You don’t even have to take our word for it. Putin’s own spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters this week that Carlson was chosen because “he has a position that is different from the rest” of the Western media.

However, there was a moment when Carlson gently pushed Putin. At the end of the interview, Carlson asked Putin if he was willing to “free” imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Ivan Gershkovich. Putin now refused to release Gershkovich, to which Carlson said: “He’s a boy, and maybe he was breaking your laws in some way, but he’s not a super spy and everybody knows that.”

While Carlson advocated for Gershkovich’s immediate release, his comments in The Journal were not well received. Ted Mann, newspaper reporter wrote

“I wasn’t doing it,” Mann added. “Carlson knows it. Ivan is a decent, law-abiding journalist held hostage by geopolitical influence. He must be released immediately.”

The Wall Street Journal also released a statement after the interview.

“Ivan is a journalist and journalism is not a crime. Any narrative to the contrary is pure fiction,” the newspaper said. “Ivan was falsely arrested and wrongfully detained by Russia for nearly a year for doing his job, and we continue to demand his immediate release.”

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