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Tucker Carlson’s Lesson within the Perils of Giving Airtime to an Autocrat

Tucker Carlson’s Lesson within the Perils of Giving Airtime to an Autocrat


Tucker Carlson left Moscow greater than every week in the past, driving excessive from an interview with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that returned him to the highlight after his abrupt cancellation by Fox News final spring.

But the interview with the wartime autocrat, mocked in varied corners of the political-media world for its comfortable contact, continues to have an extended and tortured afterlife — turning into a trending subject another time on Friday after Mr. Putin’s most vocal home opponent, Aleksei A. Navalny, turned up dead in a Russian jail.

“This is what Putin’s Russia is, @TuckerCarlson,” Liz Cheney, the previous Republican congresswoman from Wyoming, wrote on X after the information of Mr. Navalny’s dying broke on Friday. “And you might be Putin’s helpful fool.”

Naomi Biden, President Biden’s granddaughter, additionally weighed in, pointing to a video that Mr. Carlson had just lately posted through which he contrasted the supposed splendors of Russia below Mr. Putin’s management with the “filth and crime” of the United States. “Has something aged so poorly, so rapidly earlier than?” Ms. Biden wrote on X.

In a press release to The New York Times on Friday, Mr. Carlson mentioned: “It’s horrifying what occurred to Navalny. The complete factor is barbaric and terrible. No first rate particular person would defend it.”

The remark represented a notable change in tone from earlier this week, when he appeared to supply a blasé opinion relating to Russia’s therapy of Mr. Navalny, who was first imprisoned three years in the past on prices of corruption and “extremism” that the United States referred to as baseless.

Asked at a convention in Dubai on Monday why he had not questioned Mr. Putin about Russia’s free speech crackdown, Mr. Navalny’s jailing or suspected political assassinations, Mr. Carlson mentioned these had been “the issues that each different American media outlet talks about.” (Mr. Carlson was, in truth, the primary Western media determine to interview Mr. Putin in additional than two years.)

But, Mr. Carlson mentioned then, “management requires killing individuals — sorry, that’s why I wouldn’t wish to be a frontrunner” — feedback that got here below nonetheless extra criticism after Mr. Navalny’s dying.

Mr. Carlson mentioned in a press release on Friday that his remarks about management “had zero” to do with Mr. Navalny. “I wasn’t referring to him, which is apparent in context. I’m completely against killing.”

Though Mr. Carlson did press Mr. Putin through the interview on Russia’s detention of the Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich, he sat silent for lengthy stretches as Mr. Putin carried out a historical past lecture that offered a one-sided and infrequently false narrative about Ukraine.

Mr. Carlson’s followers and supporters on X portrayed criticism of his interview as bitter grapes from mainstream journalists who didn’t get to interview Mr. Putin themselves.

But on Wednesday, a brand new pundit joined the refrain of those that mentioned Mr. Carlson had gone too simply on Mr. Putin — Mr. Putin himself.

Speaking with a state tv host, Mr. Putin mentioned he was disenchanted that Mr. Carlson had not requested “so-called sharp questions” as a result of he wished the chance to “reply sharply” in his personal solutions.

“He turned out to be affected person and listened to my prolonged dialogues, particularly these associated to historical past, and didn’t give me motive to do what I used to be prepared for,” Mr. Putin mentioned. “So, frankly, I didn’t get full satisfaction from this interview.”

Justin Wells, one among Mr. Carlson’s prime producers, responded on Friday that viewers ought to “judge for themselves.”

Mr. Putin’s mockery of Mr. Carlson got here as the previous Fox host was basking within the aftermath of his interview by providing a gentle stream of reward for Russia and Mr. Putin, whose management he has extolled as superior to Mr. Biden’s.

On Wednesday, Mr. Carlson posted a brief video recorded at a Russian grocery retailer, saying its choice and costs supplied an instance of Russia’s superiority over the United States, which he described as rife with “filth and crime and inflation.”

“Coming to a Russian grocery retailer, the center of evil, and seeing what issues price and the way individuals dwell, it should radicalize you towards our leaders,” he mentioned within the video. “That’s how I really feel, anyway — radicalized.”

(Russia has greater than twice the speed of inflation because the United States, and its residents spend the next share of their family budgets on groceries.)

The video drew a bipartisan rebuke: from Naomi Biden and, earlier than her, Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina.

As a polemicist who has lengthy dabbled in pro-Russia narratives and now depends on subscriptions from these drawn to only such content material, Mr. Carlson operates in a sphere the place the criticism he has obtained this week might be a catalyst for nonetheless extra assist.

“He’s simply measured by a wholly completely different yardstick,” mentioned Nicole R. Hemmer, an affiliate professor of historical past at Vanderbilt University who research conservative media. “Tucker below assault is nice for Tucker.”



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