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Tucker interviewed Mr. Mean. No the other one!

What do Vlad and Donald have in common? Drum roll!

I don't like them and they're both going to win. I guess Leo Durocher wasn't wrong when he said that "nice guys finish last". Or Ricky Bobby when he said "if you're not first your last".

And the Spritzler Report? Number one baby!

Tucker Carlson Has Interviewed Putin, Kremlin Says

Moscow did not say when the interview would run. It is Mr. Putin’s first formal interview with Western news media since the start of his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

By Anton Troianovski, Jim Rutenberg and Paul Sonne, NY Times

Published Feb. 6, 2024

Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host, has interviewed President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the Kremlin said on Wednesday, a sign that the Russian leader is seeking to make a direct appeal to American conservatives as U.S. aid to Ukraine hangs in the balance.

Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, said Mr. Carlson had conducted the interview on Tuesday. He did not say when it would be released.

Mr. Carlson has been in Moscow for several days, according to Russian state media, which has delivered a blow-by-blow account of his visit, raising anticipation of a potential interview by Mr. Carlson of Mr. Putin. On Tuesday night, he revealed that he was interviewing the Russian leader.

“We’re here to interview the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin,” Mr. Carlson said in a video apparently shot from a high-rise building in central Moscow and posted to the social media network X. “We’ll be doing that soon.”

Mr. Carlson, whose show appears on X, did not specify the timing of any upcoming interview. It would be Mr. Putin’s first formal interview with a Western media figure since the start of his full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and his first with an American outlet since he spoke with CNBC in 2021.

Mr. Putin’s government has drastically reduced the ability of Western journalists to cover Russia, and has imprisoned a Wall Street Journal correspondent, Evan Gershkovich, for more than 10 months on espionage charges that he, his employer and the United States government vehemently deny. The Kremlin has referred to Western countries as having been “stupefied” by anti-Russian propaganda.

The E.U.’s $54 Billion Deal to Fund Ukraine

E.U. leaders have agreed to create a 50-billion-euro fund to support Kyiv against Moscow and help alleviate a potentially severe financial crisis in Ukraine.

Unpacking the Aid Package: Opposition from Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary had been the primary obstacle to a deal — until he reversed his position. Here’s what was decided.

Good Cop-Bad Cop: To make the deal happen, Europe’s most important leaders each assumed varied roles to push Orban into line.

Waiting for the United States: Ukrainian officials were quick to thank the E.U. for the funds. But President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine also alluded to uncertainty over future American support.

A Longer Game: For Orban, aid to Ukraine has never been a question of immovable principle. It is just one of many issues on which he has sought to establish himself as the leader of a populist and nativist pan-European movement.

The interview comes at a critical time for the war in Ukraine, with American aid to Kyiv stalled in Congress. A vote in the Senate on an aid package on Wednesday is almost certain to fail after an increasing number of Republicans said they would not support it.

In speaking with Mr. Carlson, Mr. Putin would most likely be seeking to seize a unique opportunity: a chance to reach a potentially sympathetic audience in the United States.

Mr. Carlson, like the Republican presidential front-runner, Donald J. Trump, is skeptical of further American support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion, and has embraced Mr. Putin’s efforts to position himself as a global standard-bearer for “traditional values,” like opposing L.G.B.T. rights.

Mr. Putin’s calculus, in good part, appears tied to the war in Ukraine. The interview could inflame political divisions over Ukraine inside the United States, especially if Mr. Putin signals that he is open to a negotiated end to the war.

In promoting the expected interview, Mr. Carlson falsely asserted that he was alone among Western media figures in trying to interview Mr. Putin. Various Western news organizations, including TV networks as well as The New York Times, have asked for interviews.

“Does Tucker really think we journalists haven’t been trying to interview President Putin every day since his full scale invasion of Ukraine?” Christiane Amanpour, the CNN and PBS journalist, wrote on X, adding that Mr. Carlson’s claim was “absurd.”

Mr. Peskov addressed that point on Wednesday, saying: “Mr. Carlson is not correct, but he couldn’t have known that. We receive a lot of requests for interviews with the president.”

Mr. Peskov said that Western newspapers and television networks “cannot boast of attempts to even look impartial in terms of covering what is happening” and that “there is no desire to communicate with such media.” Mr. Carlson, he said, takes a position that “contrasts the position of the traditional Anglo-Saxon media.”

An interview at the Kremlin could be mutually beneficial for Mr. Carlson and Mr. Putin. Mr. Carlson lost the most prominent platform in conservative media when he was pushed from Fox’s lineup last year, while Mr. Putin lost the most prominent promoter of his anti-Ukraine talking points in the United States.

Mr. Carlson’s arrival in Moscow, and speculation that he was there to interview Mr. Putin, drew a mix of condemnation and praise from prominent X users.

“He is a traitor,” former Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican of Illinois, wrote in a message, referring to Mr. Carlson. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Trump-aligned Republican congresswoman from Georgia, lauded the news, saying: “Democrats and their propagandists are spasming at the prospect of Tucker Carlson interviewing Putin.”

Mr. Carlson said in his video that the interview would be posted on X — formerly known as Twitter — and that the social network's owner, the billionaire Elon Musk, had promised “not to suppress or block this interview.”

That may not be the case, however, for the Russian government, which has restricted access to Twitter starting in March 2022, claiming the platform was hosting false information about the war in Ukraine.

While Mr. Carlson continues to provide Kremlin media with pro-Putin commentary for consumption in Russia, he has become a diminished figure in the United States since leaving Fox News, where he averaged an audience of more than 3 million a night.

Western officials and Russians close to the Kremlin have said in recent months that with Russia retaking the initiative on the battlefield and further American aid for Ukraine stalled in Congress, Mr. Putin appears to see an opening for negotiations that could play into his hands. But many supporters of Ukraine say that seeking a deal with Mr. Putin now would amount to a capitulation, because it would almost certainly require Ukraine to relinquish the roughly one-fifth of Ukraine that Russia now controls.

In breathless coverage of Mr. Carlson’s movements around Moscow in recent days, Russia’s pro-Kremlin media appeared to be working to build up chatter about a possible Putin interview. On television and online, Russian state media has treated Mr. Carlson as a visiting celebrity, offering a stream of photos and videos of his various stops — arriving at the airport, dining at a restaurant and taking in the “Spartacus” ballet at the Bolshoi Theater.

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