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Carlson’s Trip to Russia Stirs up Controversy, and Here’s Why

Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson is stirring up controversy in journalism with his trip to Moscow, Russia, where he is set to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin. This historic moment marks the Russian President’s first interview with Western media since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war two years ago. Tension between the two nations remains high, leaving many Western journalists and political figures worried about the interview's potential impact.  


After being removed from Fox News last year for undisclosed reasons, the famous journalist and face of conservative media made a splash in global news this week with his trip to Russia. The now-independent Journalist expressed his desire to interview President Putin multiple times in the past but accused the U.S. Government of intervening. According to an announcement by the Kremlin on Wednesday, February 7, that dream is now a reality. 


Carlson, in a video on X, said he’s interviewing Putin because Americans are paying for a war that they don’t understand. He added that Western media outlets are “corrupt” and “Lying to their readers and viewers,” and it’s his job as a journalist to tell the truth. 


The Putin interview is set to be released on Carlson’s streaming network and X on February 8, 2024, according to Justin Wells, head of Programming at Carlson’s streaming network. 


As anticipation builds, Americans have taken to social media to voice their opinions on Tucker Carlson’s motives and the ethics of journalism.  


“Interviewing a genocidal dictator like Putin isn’t contributing anything but more lies and propaganda, nothing but poison. It’s only revealing about Tucker, in case anyone still doubted he’s a willing Kremlin tool like his idol Trump,” tweeted Garry Kasparov, author and founder of the Human Rights Foundation. 


Like the United States's political climate, Tucker’s critics are receiving their fair share of opposition. Journalists and Carlson’s supporters are coming together on social media, arguing in support of the interview. 


“You owe no one an explanation for doing journalism. Supposed Journalists who have an issue with you doing this owe the world an explanation why they won’t do actual journalism," tweeted right-wing talk show host Robby Starbuck. 


But it’s not all red vs. blue. Former Fox News contributor and Conservative Radio Host Erick Erickson posted to Twitter condemning Carlson’s actions. "It is kinda gross that Tucker is doing this truth-teller thing in Russia. The truth-tellers are all in the Gulag with Evan Gershkovich. The Russians invaded Ukraine, and Tucker is talking about that war like the Hamas supporters talk about the Gaza situation."


Even Gershkovich is a journalist for the Wall Street Journal who is currently in a Russian jail awaiting a 20-year sentence if convicted after Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) launched a felony espionage case against him.


Gershkovich isn’t the only foreign journalist being held prisoner in Russia. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, one of their veteran journalists, Alsu Kurmasheva, has been in Russian custody since October 18, 2023. 


Russian authorities have cracked down on media since the start of the war in 2022, forcing many independent media outlets to close and kicking foreign journalists from Russia. 


Russia’s purge of foreign and independent media in 2022 leaves many wondering why he accepted an interview with Tucker Carlson. 


Before leaving Fox News, Carlson constantly questioned the validity of the United States’ support for Ukraine. Carlson stated on numerous occasions that he wondered why U.S. citizens opposed Putin, a commentary that gained him airtime on Russian State Media. 


Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that Carlson offers a different perspective than other English-speaking media outlets. Although the independent journalist has climbed to the top via his bold personality and unique perspectives on American politics, the statement raised eyebrows.  


In his statement on X, Carlson stated that Western media outlets have “spoken to scores with Ukrainian President Zelekensy,” adding that these interviews are “fawning pep sessions specifically designed to amplify Zelensky’s demand that the U.S. enter more deeply into a war in Eastern Europe and pay for it.” 


Carlson went on to say that not a single Western journalist has bothered to interview President Putin, a statement proven false by Peskov. The Associated Press and numerous other Western outlets have attempted to interview Russia’s president but were rejected because they were “one-sided,” he told reporters.


 “It's absurd — we'll continue to ask for an interview, just as we have for years now,” said CNN's Christiane Amanpour on X.


Putin held his annual news conference, for the first time since the war began, in December 2023. Western Journalists were allowed to attend the event. However, only two Western journalists had the chance to ask questions.


In his video, Carlson said he reached out to Zelensky for an interview but is still awaiting a response. Ukraine has yet to address any of Carlson’s actions at this time. 


Popular Russian television show host and Western media critic Vladimir Solovyev said that Carlson’s interview would “break through the blockade and the narrative that exists,” arguing that Western media has created a false narrative surrounding the invasion of Ukraine.  


He then supported Carlson, saying Western media “fears” him.


The outcome of Tucker Carlson’s highly anticipated interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin remains unclear, but Westerners and Ukrainians remain sceptical.


Carlson is commonly referred to as a Putin sympathizer and conspiracy theorist by Western media. Some rumours attribute that to his removal from Fox News. There is little to no evidence that supports these rumours. 


Still, the media remains sceptical of his methods, especially surrounding Putin. Western media outlets including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press won’t pass up on the opportunity to be the first to fact-check the debate, but nothing is confirmed. 


 


The questions remain: Will Putin’s first interview with Western media be a propaganda-filled attack on NATO and Ukraine, or will accused Russia sympathizer Tucker Carlson shed light on unheard voices, showing a new side of the conflict through ethical and objective journalism?


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