Updated Feb 5, 2024, 12:34pm EST
Speculation mounted Monday morning that former Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s next sit-down interview for his primetime show on X could be Russian President Vladimir Putin, a controversial interview Carlson teased even as he continues to raise eyebrows for expressing sympathy toward Russia in its nearly two-year war with Ukraine.
When asked by a Russian journalist from the Russian state-led outlet Izvestia if he planned to interview Putin, Carlson said “we’ll see,” according to a video obtained by Financial Times reporter Max Seddon, with Carlson saying he wanted to visit Moscow because he had “read so much about it” but “never seen it before.”
Arthur Schwartz, a representative for Carlson, would not confirm to Forbes whether Carlson plans to interview Putin, while Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov would not comment on a potential interview, saying the Kremlin “should hardly give any information on the movements of foreign journalists,” according to a Financial Times translation.
While Carlson has repeatedly sympathized with Russia—questioning U.S. military support to Ukraine, speculated that the U.S. might be responsible for the explosion of the Nord Stream pipeline that feeds Russian natural gas to Europe and once suggested he was “rooting for Russia” in the war before saying he was joking—an interview with Russia’s president could be one of Carlson’s most controversial moves since relaunching his show on X (formerly known as Twitter).
A possible interview comes as Russia’s reputation as a hospitable place for western journalists flounders, with Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich detained in the country on allegations of espionage last March, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty editor Alsu Kurmasheva arrested in Russia for allegedly failing to register as a foreign agent in October 2022 (the Post and Radio Free Europe have both condemned the detentions, and neither journalist has been returned, while a Russian court extended Kurmasheva’s detention last week).
The interview would also be Putin’s first with a western journalist since Russia launched its invasion into Ukraine nearly two years ago, though it would not be Carlson’s first shot at an interview with Putin, after Carlson told Swiss outlet Die Weltwoche in September that he had tried for one before he was stopped by the U.S. government.
Rumblings of Carlson’s media presence in Moscow are nothing new. In September, Carlson was speculated to be working with Russian state television on a partnership to broadcast his Twitter show on Russian TV, after an ad dubbed “Tucker” TV appeared on Russia’s state-owned outlet Rossiya 24. Carlson denied the agreement, telling the Financial Times the speculation was “more Russia-related bulls**t,” with Schwartz telling Forbes that Carlson knew “nothing about this.” Carlson had also been approached by Russian outlet RT (formerly Russian Today) shortly after his departure from Fox last April, with the outlet tweeting at Carlson to “question more with” RT. Channel One, another Russian state-run outlet, also told Carlson to “come join us” after his ousting from Fox, saying Carlson does not “have to be afraid of taking the piss out of Biden here.”
Carlson was suddenly fired from Fox last April, after 14 years at the right-wing network, including seven years as the prime-time host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Fox released a statement saying it had “agreed to part ways” with its highest-rated host, though the breakup appeared to be a surprise to Carlson, who ended his final show on Fox saying he would “be back Monday.” The departure followed months of souring tensions between the host and the network, reaching a boiling point one month before Carlson’s ouster when court filings in Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation against Fox revealed Carlson privately ripped into the 2020 election fraud theories surrounding the voting machines as “absurd” and “insane,” despite him bringing guests on his show who peddled the claims (Fox later settled the case for $787.5 million). Those court filings also showed Carlson privately labeled former Trump attorney Sidney Powell—who pushed the claims—as “poison,” and called former President Donald Trump a “demonic force,” adding that he “hate[s] him passionately.” In May, Carlson announced he would relaunch his show as a prime-time series on Twitter, now called X, branding his new show as an expansion of free speech, saying he had faced “limits” in the stories he could tell on TV.
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