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Tucker Carlson listening to Putin during the interview Tucker Carlson/YouTube
From Russia With Love

Tucker Carlson labelled 'useful idiot' after 'softball' interview with Putin

The two men discussed the war in Ukraine and Russian relations with the West.


PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN has given his first interview to Western media since 2019 – to one Tucker Carlson.

The far-right host was fired by Fox News in April 2023 – amid claims of sexism, a hostile work environment and Rupert Murdoch’s apparent concerns about Carlson’s view that the 6 January 2021 attack on Congress was instigated by the US government.

Carlson is one of the most recognisable conservative TV personalities in the US – he’s close with former president Donald Trump – and in recent weeks boasted about bagging the Putin interview.

He falsely claimed other journalists were uninterested in talking to the Russian leader, saying “not a single Western journalist has bothered to interview” Putin since the invasion of Ukraine almost two years ago.

image (2) Photo released by Sputnik news agency of Tucker Carlson and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

Many reporters from Western countries have sent the Kremlin repeated interview requests, but none have been granted, as outlined by BBC News here. In fact, the Kremlin itself said Carlson’s comments were incorrect. 

The two-hour interview, which was recorded in Moscow on Tuesday, was posted on Carlson’s website and X, formerly known as Twitter.

The two men discussed the war in Ukraine, Russian relations with the West, and the ongoing imprisonment of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

During the interview Putin speaks in Russian and his remarks are dubbed into English.

‘A useful idiot’

As expected, Carlson didn’t hit the Russian leader with many hard questions.

Politico’s post-interview analysis noted: “It was never going to be a hard-hitter… Carlson met those expectations with his softball interview, failing to extract any stirring insights into the Russian president’s actual war aims, or hold him to account for his brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Putin, however, took full advantage of the opportunity to plant seeds of doubt about America’s aid for Ukraine and the US political system.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was, unsurprisingly, pretty scathing in her review. In an interview with MSNBC, Clinton labelled Carlson “a useful idiot”.

“If you actually read translations of what’s being said on Russian media, they make fun of him. I mean, he’s like a puppy dog,” she said. 

He is a useful idiot, he says things that are not true, he parrots Vladimir Putin’s pack of lies about Ukraine.

Clinton added that she wasn’t surprised Putin gave Carlson the interview “because through him, he can continue to lie about what his objectives are in Ukraine”.

Ukraine and US

During the interview Putin defended his decision to invade Ukraine in February 2022. He said the West now realises that Russia will not be defeated, despite US, European and Nato help to Ukraine.

“Up until now, there has been the uproar and screaming about inflicting a strategic defeat to Russia on the battlefield.

“But now they are apparently coming to realise that it is difficult to achieve, if possible, at all. In my opinion, it is impossible by definition,” Putin said.

He also aimed a message at the US Congress, where Trump-dominated Republicans are increasingly reluctant to keep backing Ukraine with weapons and other military aid.

“I will tell you what we are saying on this matter and what we are conveying to the US leadership. If you really want to stop fighting, you need to stop supplying weapons,” he said.

image (3) Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking during the interview

Asked about a possible change in leadership after the US election, where Joe Biden is expected to face off against Trump in a rematch of their 2020 contest, Putin indicated he would see little change.

“You just asked me if another leader comes and changes something? It is not about the leader. It is not about the personality of a particular person.”

Putin also said a deal “can be reached” in relation to the detainment of journalist Gershkovich, but wouldn’t be drawn on it.

“There are certain terms being discussed via special services channels,” he said, while insisting the reporter is a spy – something the Wall Street Journal and US government vehemently deny.

Contains reporting from © AFP 2024