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Analysis | Tucker Carlson: red carpet in Russia for «

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Tucker Carlson is a star journalist-host of the American right.

  • François Brousseau (View profile)François Brousseau

The speech synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, allows you to generate spoken text from written text.

“Not a single Western journalist has bothered to interview the president of the other country in this conflict. » Words – misleading, as we will see – of Tucker Carlson, star journalist-host of the American right, to whom Vladimir Putin granted a rare interview this Tuesday, February 6, which was to be posted online two days later.

Even before its broadcast, the announcement of this interview – beyond its predictable content – ​​caused a certain stir, particularly in Moscow where the character received superstar treatment. Quite the opposite of a humble passing interviewer.

The Russian president almost never grants interviews to Western journalists. So why is he doing it today with Tucker Carlson?

For Carlson, it is a political act more than a journalistic one from a character who is both radical columnist and super-activist of the American right, influential in Donald Trump's MAGA movement.

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An act likely to have repercussions in American domestic politics and even in foreign policy, at a time when United States support for Ukraine is being questioned by many Republican congressmen who listen attentively to Trump and Carlson.

Why him, why now? Response on the website of the Moscow Times – English-speaking Russian newspaper, now published in the Netherlands, but which maintains contacts in Moscow and presents itself as independent, in a context hostile to press freedom.

The newspaper published an article online which cites official and semi-official sources in Moscow, on condition of anonymity. One of these sources says for example: It's to piss off the United States! And another emphasizes that in this election year, access to the American public through Carlson […] is an opportunity to once again exercise this famous influence on American elections, given the interviewer's huge audience.

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Tucker Carlson during a television interview from Moscow. We can read in the subtitle: We ourselves have submitted a request for an interview with Zelensky.

Because Tucker is already a well-known figure in Russia. He is regularly quoted by the Russian media, both on TV, in newspapers and on websites.

His visit to Moscow over the past few days has been closely followed. From the Russian official point of view, here is a friend, a rare American friend, what we can call a good American, who is coming to visit us today. And Tucker Carlson, even if he no longer has his daily column at Fox News since last April – a dismissal that has never been well explained – remains influential on social networks: he is assured that this interview will be well broadcast and widely watched.

The event is a publicity stunt for both sides: Carlson is looking for an increased audience. Even though it remained strong, this audience has declined since he left Fox News. And Putin seizes the opportunity to speak directly – without filter, because Tucker, here, is not a filter – to an American audience.

Vladimir Putin wants to benefit, in some way, from a microphone holder that is friendly to him and what's more, an American microphone holder. This is true, even if Carlson maintains that he is not a pro-Moscow propagandist and that it is, on the contrary, the major Anglo-Saxon media which have been producing pro-Ukrainian propaganda since February 2022.

In his pre-publicity video announcing the interview, he talks about the corrupt and lying Western media whose wrongs he claims to correct.

All of the character's interventions over the past two years, when it comes to Ukraine and Russia, have gone in one and the same direction, often in a virulent tone. He is not virulent, however, when the person interviewed expresses a point of view that pleases him.

Eloquent precedent: last August, Tucker Carlson interviewed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, friend of Putin and well-known black sheep of the European Union. Orban to whom the American had, for half an hour, served soup without asking the slightest embarrassing question. At one point in the interview, both interviewer and interviewee state in unison: It would be great if Trump was president again!

An example that lets you guess what this new interview will look like.

Carlson says he took the trouble and had the courage to speak to the Russian president, which he did not do not other Western media.

Here's another typical example of the boastful Tucker Carlson, who twists reality.

This to which the BBC, or even CNN, through the voice of Christiane Amanpour, retorted: But let's see, we regularly try to obtain interviews with Putin! But the Kremlin refuses!

Crucial detail: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov himself refuted Carlson's claim, saying in essence that the Kremlin does indeed receive a lot of interview requests, but carefully chooses those to whom it says yes.

A bit like he chose, in 2015, the filmmaker Oliver Stone for a long-winded interview (Conversations with Mr. Putin, 2017, 240 minutes) in which Stone – but from a left-wing point of view – asked questions like: But what does it matter to you, Mr. Putin, when you hear all the bad things that are said about you elsewhere in the world? To which the interviewee could respond that he was a tough guy capable of taking it.

(We pass here on the fact that foreign journalists, like the American Evan Gershkovich of the Wall Street Journal since March 30, 2023, can find themselves behind bars overnight for perfectly arbitrary reasons, like any Russian.)

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Ex-President Donald Trump is a known admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, writes François Brousseau. (Archive photo)

A word on the trend that Tucker Carlson represents in the United States, and his increasingly visible links with Russia.

Just as the Kremlin, for decades in the 20th century, maintained close ties with communist parties in Europe, in the 21st century its privileged networks and support abroad have migrated towards the populist right and the far right.

Examples: Viktor Orban in Hungary (but not the Polish right of Jaroslaw Kaczynski), Matteo Salvini in Italy (but not the current Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni) or even Marine Le Pen in France, received at the Kremlin during her 2017 campaign (but who did not do so again in 2022).

Today, this is also true in the United States, where ex-President Donald Trump is a known admirer of Vladimir Putin, and where a significant fraction of his Republican Party troops – influenced by Tucker Carlson – lean more more often towards Moscow.

For geopolitical reasons, but also on social themes, with an ultraconservative side. Example: the affirmation of masculinity, the fight against feminism and homosexuality, of which Vladimir Putin has become a positive symbol for part of the American right.

The result of these new Philorussian orientations is visible these days in the American Congress, where most Republican elected officials are on the verge of blocking the renewal of aid to Ukraine, to the great dismay of Joe Biden and by Volodymyr Zelensky.

This interview comes precisely in this context, in a very timely way, to give a boost to this whole movement.

  • François Brousseau (View profile)François BrousseauFollow

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