Tucker Carlson, the controversial conservative television host, has made a comeback to the center of American politics with his exclusive interview with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. This two-hour interview, which was released on X and Carlson’s own streaming site, Tucker Carlson Network, gave him a platform to address a wide American audience, coinciding with congressional Republicans’ efforts to block military aid to Ukraine.
Despite being dismissed by Fox News, Carlson has managed to recapture the spotlight with this high-profile interview. His streaming site, which he founded in December, is an attempt to replicate the business model of other conservative personalities like Megyn Kelly and Ben Shapiro, who have built stand-alone digital platforms outside traditional media. The interview with Putin is also expected to serve as an advertisement for his streaming site, costing subscribers $9 a month.
However, Carlson’s waning power has been evident, as his self-produced interviews on X lack the same influence on the national debate that he once wielded on Fox News. His involvement in a defamation lawsuit against Fox and the discovery of a text conveying inflammatory views influenced the decision to cut his show. This led to Elon Musk, the owner of X, quickly stepping in to make Carlson the first host of a long-form video show on the platform.
Opinions on Carlson’s interview with Putin are divided, with some seeing it as a shrewd move to regain relevance, while others view it as propagandistic and controversial. Critics argue that Carlson’s interview with Putin and his association with X, which has received backlash for allowing content that goes against traditional journalistic standards, raises ethical concerns and normalizes misinformation.
Despite the backlash, the interview seems certain to attract a big audience. The test will be whether it results in more subscriptions and interest in his show – and, if not, how Mr. Carlson will try to outdo himself for his next splash.