On Tuesday, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking a wide range of questions over the course of over two hours.
It appears that he saved the most contentious part of the interview — perhaps wisely — for last.
About 15 minutes shy of the end of their meeting, Carlson started a new line of questioning, one that appeared to make the Russian strongman visibly uncomfortable, and he received a fair amount of praise on social media for doing it.
“I appreciate all the time you’ve given us,” Carlson started. “I just got to ask you one last question, and that’s about someone who’s very famous in the United States, probably not here: Evan Gershkovitz, who’s the Wall Street Journal reporter. He’s 32 and he’s been in prison for almost a year.”
Carlson wasted no time, however, in asking for what he wanted: the release of Gershkovitz into Carlson’s custody, to be returned to the United States, “as a sign of [Putin’s] decency.”
Listening to the translation of Tucker’s ask, Putin sighed and furrowed his brow, then answered: “We have done so many gestures of goodwill out of decency that I think we have run out of them.”
Putin claimed that no other country had ever released a Russian prisoner in a similar manner, but then allowed that, “In theory, we can say that we can do that if our partners take reciprocal steps.”
The Russian president said that “special services” — i.e., intelligence and diplomatic personnel from both the U.S. and Russia — were already having discussions about repatriating Gershkovitz and that he believed the two sides would eventually make a deal.
That, apparently, wasn’t enough for Carlson, who said Gershkovitz should receive different treatment.
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“He’s a kid,” Carlson said, “and maybe he was breaking your law in some way, but he’s not a super spy and everybody knows that. … So maybe he’s in a different category.”
Putin shifted in his seat before, unsurprisingly, disagreeing with Carlson’s description of Gershkovitz and smiling while he claimed the journalist had been caught “red-handed.”
Pressed again by Carlson, Putin at first said that he didn’t know who Gershkovitz had been working for, but then said he was working for U.S. “special services.”
“He’s not just a journalist, I reiterate,” Putin said. “He’s a journalist who was secretly given confidential information.”
Putin insisted again that talks were already underway and that he expected them to be successful — and Carlson once again pressed him.
“I hope you’ll let him out,” he said, to which Putin appeared to chuckle.
“I also want him to return to his homeland at last,” the Russian president replied. “I’m absolutely sincere.”
Then he took what appeared to be a jab at Carlson’s doggedness.
“But let me say once again, the dialog continues. The more public we render things of this nature, the more difficult it becomes to resolve them,” he added in apparent warning.
You can watch the entire interview below, but we’ve queued it up to begin with Carlson’s questions about Gershkovitz.
A number of people on social media were quick to praise Carlson for asking the question in the first place, and then for pushing back on Putin’s responses.
Tucker Carlson is a ROCK STAR!! BRAVO!! @TuckerCarlson
That took a lot of guts ????
Putin does not suffer fools. But I bet he has a HUGE respect for Tucker after this interview. https://t.co/YsmW9Ql3lx
— Proud CO Patriot ????Conservative ???????????????? FJB (@ProudPatriot60) February 9, 2024
Not only did Tucker press Putin for the release of the WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich, which US pundits prematurely attacked him for not doing, the entire interview was actually way more adversarial — and tactfully so — than most of the pundits would ever be able to pull off
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) February 9, 2024
The New York Post’s Miranda Devine, however, may have summed up public sentiment better than most.
Good on you, Tucker. More than any other journalist has done for Evan Gershkovich https://t.co/MyGDp7p30q
— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) February 9, 2024
“Good on you, Tucker,” she wrote in an X post that also included an excerpt from the end of the interview. “More than any other journalist has done for Evan Gershkovich.”
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