INTERVIEW WITH CARLSON: PUTIN HARANGUES THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
The main message is the usual – but in English, so that everyone understands it: it is the West, in support of the Ukrainian Nazis, that attacks, Moscow defends itself. Everyone wants first humiliation, then the wiping of Russia off the map. But the Kremlin’s army is winning, Zelenskyi only survives thanks to American weapons. If these stop coming, peace will return, and the neighbouring countries have nothing to fear from a friendly, kind, reliable and generous partner like Russia. The centre of the argument is one: every American citizen who does not vote to stop Kiev’s rearmament is complicit in death and destruction. Biden and the Democrats must be stopped, otherwise the war will never end and will spread to the rest of Europe.
We are talking about the exact two-hour interview American supremacist Tucker Carlson obtained with the president of the Russian Federation. It was from 5 July 2019, when Lionel Barber, until 2020 editor of the Financial Times, interviewed Putin for one hour and thirty minutes, that the Russian leader was not talking to a Western journalist. From then on, before and after 24 February 2022, the date marking the beginning of the conflict with Ukraine, nothing more. Until today. At midnight on 09 February 2024 (6 p.m. on 8 February, New York time) Tucker Carlson, a US journalist and former face of the pro-Republican TV station Fox News, broadcast on his own web channels (the website and the X account) the full interview he conducted in Moscow on Tuesday 6 February.
It is an event of extraordinary importance, it goes without saying, given the Kremlin’s reticence to grant interviews to Western journalists and the not easy conditions under which correspondents from Russia operate: Evan Gershkovic, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, is arrested in Yekaterinburg on 29 March 2023 on charges of espionage and is still held in pre-trial detention (the terms of which have been extended four times) pending the start of a trial that could cost him a sentence of up to twenty years in prison. Russian-American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva has been detained since 18 October 2023 in Kazan prison on charges of failing to register her passport when she entered the country, to which she had returned to visit her mother. Following this, Kurmasheva is also accused of spreading false information about the Russian army. Currently in pre-trial detention, she faces a total of twenty years in prison.
Tucker Carlson, on the other hand, interviews Putin. In the days leading up to the broadcast, the former anchorman spreads a video on his X account in which he explains the reasons for a job for which, he says, he has been preparing for months: informing is his job, his duty is to inform the Americans (and us, by extension) about what is really happening in the region affected by two years of a conflict that is profoundly changing global alliances, in commercial and military terms, and the sanctions attached to them, as well as overturning the world economy.
The economic order that emerged from World War II and guaranteed the West eighty years of prosperity is fast falling, along with the supremacy of the dollar; everyone is aware of this, says Carlson, except the inhabitants of the English-speaking nations. Because no one tells them the truth: the media is corrupt and lies by omitting important news. The interviews with Zelensky conducted by US newspapers are, according to Carlson, servile government propaganda to push the US to engage more deeply in the ongoing conflict. While the enslaved politicians and media do this, they do not bother to listen to what the leader of the other faction involved, Putin, has to say.
According to Carlson, many Americans have no idea why he invaded Ukraine, and what his goals are. They do not know his voice. Carlson and his team, like true Americans, are exercising their right to tell the truth they believe in, despite certain politicians trying to prevent them from doing so: almost three years ago, Carlson says, the Biden administration illegally spied on private messages from Carlson and his team, then leaked them to the syndicated media (reference is made to racist text messages sent by Carlson that, when made public, contributed to his dismissal from Fox).
Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson
This would have served, according to the journalist, to prevent an interview with Putin that Carlson was planning. He is now in Moscow to carry out that work. And not because he loves Putin, he says, but because he cares about the US remaining free and prosperous. No remuneration will be paid for this work: the whole operation is self-financed. About the broadcast on X, Musk promises not to block or suppress the interview once posted on the social network.
Carlson links his recent fame to his strenuous proximity to Trumpian populism, and makes no secret of his sympathy for the Russian version of the origins of the conflict in Ukraine, showing dislike for President Volodymyr Zelensky and his policies. Putin agreed to be interviewed knowing that he would not have a hostile interlocutor.
The uncertain situation regarding the military aid package to Ukraine, with a Republican and Trumpist minority blocking the resolution in the US Congress, creates a situation where this interview may prove useful for Putin – increasing the number of those opposed to the new package – who spoke as a reasonable and resolute leader, eager to find agreements that avoid further bloodshed. The meeting point for peace will be found, Putin said, as soon as the West stops sending aid to the Ukrainian army.
All the Russian president’s reassurances about the hypothesis of aggression against Poland and Lithuania (he will not attack them except in response to hostile actions) and his openness to discuss with the US about the release of Evan Gershkovich (the only time Carlson actually appeared to be a journalist) on terms to be agreed between the special services of the two countries, are part of the Putin strategy to weaken Biden and the Democrats through the megaphone of one of his most influential supporters in the West. Open-minded and willing to change his mind, Carlson, who in 2005 openly called Putin a dictator in cahoots with the enemies of the United States, while from 2015 to the present, including his ousting from Fox News (where he hosted his own show) in spring 2023, he has been on a crusade in favour of Russian motives, of Donald Trump (even mystifying the evidence relating to the storming of the Capitol on 6 January 2021), of Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán, in the name of a supposed Americanism made up of contempt for immigrants, portrayed as criminals, that make the United States poorer, dirtier and more insecure.
Putin thinks so too, on immigration. The liberals, the object of his screeching, are allegedly guilty of threatening him for his positions, of creating the pandemic that destroyed the American economy, of teaching racial discrimination (sic!), of manufacturing Fentanyl, of trying to extinguish Christian religious fervour. Who is worse at this point, them or Putin?
In addition to the racially motivated text messages, what cost him his job as Fox’s top anchorman were his attitudes described as ‘toxic’ towards his colleagues and, above all, the scandal of the lawsuit that the voting company Dominion filed against Fox after several personalities at the station spread false information that the voting machine company was involved in a plot to overturn the 2020 general election, awarding victory to Joe Biden instead of the real winner, Donald Trump. In April 2023, Fox and Dominion reached an out-of-court settlement of $787.5 million, which the company received as compensation for knowingly spreading falsehoods.
Tucker Carlson and Hungarian dictator Viktor Orban
Returning to the interview, Putin explicitly proposes an agreement with the West, instead of a military victory, as the conclusion of the Ukrainian conflict, given the fact, now clear to all, that Russia will not be defeated on the battlefield. Earlier he spent a good part of his two-hour interview with Carlson reviewing the last thirteen centuries of Russian history to ultimately justify his own actions from 2014 to the present, with the inevitable references to European lies about NATO’s eastward enlargement and a generalised Western ostracism towards Moscow, which after the collapse of the Soviet Union would be treated as a second-class ally, to be kept away from the tables that matter, limiting its meddling in Western affairs in military and common defence matters. Nevertheless, the president does not criticise Western society, which he describes as pragmatic and successful in production and science.
The interview, in the tenor of the questions and Putin’s conciliatory attitude, seems to have been specially packaged for the US public, which, guiltily, knows nothing – or almost nothing – about the Ukrainian conflict and the president, imagines him to be evil but has little idea why, is ill-informed and his political ideas are vague and easily oriented. In the two-hour interview with Carlson, this audience got to appreciate the human face of a vicious dictator who crushes dissent and free information, internal and external, with imprisonment, torture, and murder, deliberately attacks a foreign country, and uses his own intelligence services to rig the results of elections in at least one foreign state (United States 2016). In the age of the eternal present all this, of course, does not count.
Only one weakness, from the point of view of media efficiency. This is the week of the Superbowl, the final of the NFL championship of American football. Already, almost the entire population is talking about it. How much of Putin’s two boring hours with Carlson will remain in the subconscious of the average American citizen, closer to illiteracy than interest in accurate information, remains to be seen.