The Kremlin confirmed Wednesday that an interview between Tucker Carlson and Vladimir Putin had already taken place, with a spokesperson for the Russian president also explaining what makes the former Fox News host special, in Putin's eyes, compared to d other Western journalists whose requests for access are systematically rejected.
Dmitry Peskov refused to reveal when the interview would be published, saying only that it would be published “as soon as it is ready.” He also contradicted a claim Carlson made in his own video confirming Tuesday's interview, in which the conservative claimed that “not a single Western journalist bothered to interview” Putin during his war in Ukraine.
“Mr. Carlson is wrong. But he couldn't have known that,” Peskov said, noting that on the contrary, Western media frequently request interviews with Putin, but these requests are refused. “Regarding the countries of the collective West, we are talking about major online media, traditional TV channels, major newspapers, which cannot boast of trying to appear at least impartial in terms of coverage,” Peskov said, according to TASS. “These are all media outlets that take an exclusively one-sided position.”
He added that Putin has “no desire to communicate with such media” because it is “unlikely that he will benefit from it.” Carlson, on the other hand, is different, Peskov said, because he takes a different stance from the rest of the “Anglo-Saxon media.” Peskov characterized Carlson as neither pro-Russian nor pro-Ukrainian, but simply pro-American.
The Kremlin spokesperson also said a purported transcript of the interview shared online was an “absolute fake.”
On Tuesday, Carlson acknowledged that there were “risks” in conducting such an interview, but still justified doing so by arguing that he is a journalist whose “duty is to inform people.” He claimed that most English-speaking countries are not informed about how Russia's war in Ukraine is reshaping the world order because “the media in these countries are corrupt.” “They lie to their readers and viewers, and they do it mainly by omission,” he added.
He also said that interviews US media have given to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are not journalism but “flattering pep sessions” and “government propaganda” intended to draw America further into the conflict.
The prospect of a meeting between Carlson and Putin was warmly welcomed by Russian government propagandists. The endorsement from state media and the Kremlin stands in stark contrast to the media coverage given to other Western journalists in Russia, some of whom are currently facing even more serious consequences simply for doing their work in the country.
Evan Gershkovich, an American Wall Street Journal journalist, has already spent more than 10 months in detention for espionage charges that the Newspaper and the US government vehemently denied it. The Biden administration considers him wrongly detained. Alsou Kurmasheva, a Russian-American journalist with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, is also behind bars on remand for allegedly violating a law regarding “foreign agents.” Her employer also denounced the allegations against her, calling them baseless and politically motivated.