Former Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson released his interview with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on Thursday evening, and it turned out to be the one thing no one expected: hilarious.
During the two-hour program, Putin spent more than 50 minutes delivering a rambling, inaccurate history lesson that started with the Vikings and included dragging up documents from the 17th century. During this segment, Carlson was left slack-jawed, staring at Putin while he was unable to get in a single question.
If Carlson was expecting to get some justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that didn’t involve events in the ninth century, Putin never gave it. And if Carlson was expected to get ammunition that Republicans could use to defeat the Ukrainian assistance package in the Senate, he came up dry there as well. But if he meant to spawn a thousand memes … the interview was absolutely aces.
Perhaps the least helpful moment of the interview from the perspective of somehow making Russia the good guys in this struggle came with Putin’s extended, passionate defense of Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland.
Yes, Putin blamed Poland for Hitler’s invasion of the country, and it would seem to be all that anyone needed to hear to understand how Putin justified his invasion of Ukraine. And if anyone was wondering about that part where Carlson confronted Putin over Russia’s role in dividing Poland with the Nazis or how Russia slaughtered the Polish resistance … that never happened.
If there were other “highlights” of this incoherent, long-winded, and ultimately boring presentation, one of them was surely when Putin paused in the middle of his droning lesson on history-that-never-happened to poke fun at Carlson for having attempted to join the CIA and getting rejected.
Someone in Russia must have made it clear that bad things would happen if Carlson decided to do any editing because otherwise it’s hard to see why he would have left this in.
When Carlson finally got the chance to talk near the end of the interview, he asked Putin if, “as a sign of your decency,” he would release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. Putin responded by making it clear that he was all out of decency.
That moment might as well be the emblem for the evening. Carlson, when allowed to speak, tossed Putin softballs designed to give the Russian strongman some opportunity to score diplomatic points or at least earn a favorable review in MAGA land. Putin gave him Hitler, no decency, and stories that involved “Yaroslav the wise.”
The closest Putin came to giving Carlson anything to talk about was in complaining that Canada had accidentally applauded a Nazi. But since this came after Putin’s defense of Hitler, it seems the real objection was that this particular Nazi fought against Russia instead of alongside them.
Overall, Carlson came off as a stooge, staring open-mouthed for hours as Putin either ignored his few questions or openly sneered at him. Putin came off, appropriately enough, as a self-important fascist jackass who was willing to justify anything with an hour's worth of “Drunk History.” In terms of providing some reasonable defense of Russia, or something for the right to leverage against aid to Ukraine, Carlson came up bone-dry.
But don’t be surprised if your MAGA friends are eager to tell you a fairytale about how some lesson from Yaroslav the wise proves that Ukraine is not a real country. Or maybe they’ll just go straight to “if it was good enough for Hitler …”
But hey, Sarah Palin liked it.
And now … memes.
Republicans demanded border security, worked on a compromise deal with Democrats, and now want to blow the whole thing up. Biden is promising to remind Americans every day that the Republican Party is at fault for the lack of solutions to the problems they claim are most important.