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‘Documenting every step and sneeze’ Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s Moscow visit has Russia’s media in a frenzy

Source: Meduza
Brian Cahn / ZUMA Press Wire / Scanpix / LETA
Update: Tucker Carlson confirmed on X that he will interview Vladimir Putin.

American political commentator Tucker Carlson has long aspired to interview Vladimir Putin. Now, months after accusing the U.S. government of blocking his efforts to talk to the Russian president, Carlson may have finally accomplished his goal, according to former Echo of Moscow chief editor Alexey Venediktov.

Carlson himself hasn’t commented publicly on his trip to Russia, but if he intended to stay under the radar, the secret didn’t last long. On Saturday evening, the Russian Telegram channel Mash reported that Carlson had been spotted boarding a flight from Istanbul to Moscow three days earlier. From that point on, the seemingly starstruck Russian media has been tracking the Western pundit’s every move.

On Sunday morning, the pro-Kremlin channel Bezgranichny Analitik confidently reported that Carlson’s intention of interviewing Putin had been confirmed, citing the fact that this was being repeated “practically everywhere”:

It’s safe to say that, without any exaggeration, what awaits us will be an epochal event. It’s not often that Putin speaks with Western journalists in the format of a video interview. If memory serves, the last time this happened was in 2021, when the president answered the questions of NBC journalist Keir Simmons. […] At that point, Russia wasn’t conducting a special military operation, and NBC wasn’t a platform that’s going to familiarize a significant number of Americans with the Russian leader’s perspective. Moreover, the TV company had an interest in presenting Putin in an unfavorable light, not in bringing the truth to Americans.

In contrast, the channel said, Carlson is a “cornerstone of modern American journalism” who enjoys “unequivocal support from the overwhelming majority of Republicans.” An interview between him and Putin, it wrote, would be an “information bomb of monstrous power” and a “tremendous blow to the positions of America’s Democrats.”

Pro-Kremlin political commentator Sergey Markov gave a similar assessment on Monday, saying the United States is “trembling in anticipation” of the rumored interview between the country’s “most popular journalist” and its “most popular enemy”:

It’s believed that Putin might say something through Tucker Carlson to the American people that could lead Americans to throw Biden into the political landfill of presidents and elect Trump as president again. And Trump would then throw Biden’s gang in prison for election fraud.

Carlson’s visit also garnered reactions far beyond Russia’s capital. After an Amur leopard at Moscow’s VDNKh exhibition park reportedly caught Carlson’s attention during a visit, the government of the big cat’s native Primorsky region, in the Russian Far East, proudly shared the “story” on Telegram.

In total, according to one of Ksenia Sobchak’s Telegram channels, Russian state media outlets mentioned Tucker Carlson more than 2,000 times between January 29 and February 5. They reported on the following events, among others:

  • Tucker Carlson was spotted in a Russian hotel
  • The Russian Union of Journalists invited Tucker Carlson to join (if he pays the membership fee)
  • Tucker Carlson left his hotel and headed towards the presidential administration building
  • Tucker Carlson’s car left the presidential administration after spending over an hour there
  • Tucker Carlson’s car returned to the presidential administration
  • Tucker Carlson was invited to visit Russian-annexed Crimea

Additionally, Carlson was reportedly invited to make an appearance on comedian Pavel Volya’s talk show on the channel TNT. After this was announced, Anton Anisimov said he had invited Carlson to come on his show on the Match channel first.

Other Russian Telegram accounts poked fun at the frenzied media reaction to Carlson’s visit. “WHITE MAN ARRIVES TO SEE THE NATIVES. EVERYONE ORDERED TO KISS THE GROUND HE WALKED ON,” one user wrote. “BREAKING: Tucker Carlson poops,” said another.

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In a similar vein, pro-Kremlin journalist Andrey Medvedev criticized his compatriots for taking such an interest in Carlson’s visit:

[I’m amazed by] how people who mock Ukrainians for their kowtowing to European politicians and public figures are now meticulously documenting Tucker Carlson’s every step and sneeze in Moscow. He arrived, he ate, he drank tea. How wonderful that an American has come to see us! […] Comrades, do you not feel bipolar?

Propagandist and pro-Kremlin youth movement creator Boris Yakemenko took issue with this idea, responding sarcastically:

I agree. It’s much more correct and important to record every sneeze of the “patriotic riffraff.” The ‘milbloggers.’ Where they draw people’s privates, where they launch into obscenities, where they gave up Klishchiivka. […] This is what needs to be monitored, this is what needs to be written about. They’re the people who will defend us before the world. Not some Tucker Carlson, who’s only listened to by a measly tens of millions of people around the world.

The Kremlin, meanwhile, has not confirmed or refuted the speculation that Tucker Carlson interviewed or will interview Vladimir Putin. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that he “cannot comment on the movement of an American journalist here.”

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