Tucker Carlson's Vladimir Putin Interview Is Just Wrong

Tucker Carlson Putin
February 7, 2024 Topic: Politics Region: Americas Blog Brand: Politics Tags: Tucker CarlsonDonald TrumpMAGARussiaUkraineWar In Ukraine

Tucker Carlson's Vladimir Putin Interview Is Just Wrong

Will Tucker Carlson query Putin about the ongoing genocidal war in Ukraine? Will he ask the Russian tyrant why he’s killing thousands of civilians and destroying a country he claims is populated by Russians?

The timing really couldn’t be better. Fittingly for the occasion, Russia launched one of its largest missile attacks on Ukraine—killing four and injuring 38 in Kyiv alone—just as Tucker Carlson, Kremlin apologist extraordinaire, was gallivanting around Moscow and announcing that he would interview Vladimir Putin, Kremlin dictator extraordinaire.

Will Tucker, as his website refers to him, query Putin about the ongoing genocidal war in Ukraine? Will he ask the Russian tyrant why he’s killing thousands of civilians and destroying a country he claims is populated by Russians? Will he follow up with tough questions or will he simply let Putin repeat the nonsense he’s been spewing for most of his 34 years in office? Will he make Putin squirm in the manner that the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci made her interviewees squirm?

Fat chance. To expect Tucker to be an honest journalist is like expecting Putin to be a liberal democrat. Putin knows that Tucker is his stooge, that all he needs to do is smile at the American and repeat platitudes about Russia’s fear of NATO and Ukrainian “neo-Nazis” to win his undying fealty.

One is tempted to compare Tucker with the notorious New York Times journalist, Walter Duranty, who concealed the extent of the Soviet-engineered famine in Ukraine in 1932-1933 to retain access to his Putin, Joseph Stalin. Except that Duranty knew he was lying. He knew he was concealing mass murder for the sake of his career. Is Tucker lying, or does he really believe that he gets Putin better than scores of experts the world over?

What makes a seemingly normal, well-educated, and reasonable person admire a genocidal war-monger who’s responsible for the death of democracy in his own country and for countless human deaths in Ukraine?

Historically, there have been four reasons for such self-effacingly slavish, embarrassingly apologetic, and profoundly immoral behavior: the desire for money, the need for glory, the attractiveness of ideology, and the feeling of powerlessness.

Traditionally, many intellectuals and artists have served all manner of affluent masters who’ve ensured their well-being by providing them with houses, servants, and cash. Putin is far richer than Carlson—having reportedly squirreled away some $75 billion in assets—and he could easily afford to buy his media empire, but, even though an extra buck never hurts, Tucker is obviously doing quite well and doesn’t need Vlad’s monetary support.

If it isn’t pecuniary, perhaps the reward of consorting with a monster comes from Tucker’s need to be in the limelight, even if it’s only the glow that Putin’s divine persona casts on him? Could be, but Tucker appears to have achieved solid celebrity status and doesn’t need Vlad to make him more popular with his audience.

Maybe Tucker admires Putin’s ideological stance? That rings true. The Kremlin’s resident-in-chief believes in making Russia great again, even if that entails the deaths of close to 400,000 Russian soldiers, the destruction of huge swathes of the Ukraine he claims to be liberating, the genocidal murder of tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians, and the kidnapping of thousands of Ukrainian children (a crime for which the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin). Putin’s is a no-holds-barred commitment to Russia’s—and not incidentally his own—greatness.

Tucker appears to be in the same ideological camp, as his support of Donald Trump and his excesses attests. Indeed, Tucker’s obscene comparison of Ukraine’s mild-mannered, though flawed President Volodymyr Zelensky to Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik despot who ordered the deaths of hundred of thousands (in anticipation of Stalin’s murder of millions), is proof of his inability to see reality except through the twisted lens of Putinite and Trumpite ideology.

Finally, does Tucker admire Putin because, in contrast to himself, Vlad knows how to get the job done, because Putin has the power Tucker would just love to have? Very probably, although only the God he continually invokes (and thereby slanders) and his shrink can answer that question with certainty.

In any case, it’s clear that Tucker loves Vlad because they’re ideological birds of a feather. Carlson’s claim that he’s interviewing Putin because the American public lacks information about the war isn’t just misleading. After all, there is a ton of information about Ukraine, Russia, Putin, and his genocidal war on hundreds of sites and in thousands of publications. All one needs to do to be informed is open one’s eyes and click on a button.

What’s at issue with the interview is thus something entirely different from information and truth. It’s all about Tucker and Putin’s obsession with greatness and their resultant justifications for Russia’s destruction of Ukraine. Tucker is, in a word, a propagandist, who claims his lies, and those of Putin, are the truth.

But Tucker is more than that. In lionizing a genocidal war-monger, Tucker is endorsing his genocide and his war. Like it or not, that makes Tucker Carlson, rumored to be Trump’s choice for Vice President, a genocidaire and a war-monger, too.

About the Author

Dr. Alexander Motyl is a professor of political science at Rutgers-Newark. A specialist on Ukraine, Russia, and the USSR, and on nationalism, revolutions, empires, and theory, he is the author of 10 books of nonfiction, including Pidsumky imperii (2009); Puti imperii (2004); Imperial Ends: The Decay, Collapse, and Revival of Empires (2001); Revolutions, Nations, Empires: Conceptual Limits and Theoretical Possibilities (1999); Dilemmas of Independence: Ukraine after Totalitarianism (1993); and The Turn to the Right: The Ideological Origins and Development of Ukrainian Nationalism, 1919–1929 (1980); the editor of 15 volumes, including The Encyclopedia of Nationalism (2000) and The Holodomor Reader (2012); and a contributor of dozens of articles to academic and policy journals, newspaper op-ed pages, and magazines. He also has a weekly blog, “Ukraine’s Orange Blues.”

Image Credit: YouTube Screenshot/Tucker Carlson.