It appears Tucker Carlson enjoyed being a superstar in Moscow. In return, he even put his free time in the Russian capital to the function of Kremlin’s propaganda. He visited a Russian restaurant that, until recently, belonged to McDonald’s.
The small gesture might have been part of the agreement with the Kremlin, according to which he got an interview with Vladimir Putin, even if it did not fit perfectly with Carlson's mission of promoting Russian war goals.
A broad smile on his face while posing with takeaway food from the restaurant "Vkusno" (Delicious) was supposed to mean that Russia was far from collapse, as has been reported in the West for 2 years.
Russia gave love to Tucker Carlson because he came to Moscow as a vassal who was allowed to appear to be in control of the situation. He played a role that Russians expected of him - an American who trusted them - with great enthusiasm.
Vladimir Putin loves disloyal Americans who camouflage their disloyalty in permissible criticism of their government. To Vladimir Putin, Tucker Carlson is a man who camouflages freedom of speech with a willingness to lie.
An old acquaintance
Carlson, whose views have been broadly reported by the major media for 2 years, enjoyed star status during his visit to Moscow as an old acquaintance of the domestic patriotic audience.
For Russians, Carlson is living proof that their version of the world is just and justified, even when fighting for it by attacking a neighbouring country and its people.
Carlson's views were consistently reported and praised on state TV networks, leading everyone to believe he was accurate
Carlson's views were consistently reported and praised on state TV networks, leading everyone to believe he was accurate. The interview with Putin served as the final state seal, confirming this.
The former FOX News star claimed that his interview with Putin was an opportunity for the American people to hear the other side.
The Kremlin stated the same as the reason why Carlson was allowed to interview the president, as the only journalist from the West since the start of the aggression against Ukraine.
What the president said to Carlson was insignificant to Russians
For Tucker Carlson, his American countrymen, who appreciated his work, were the audience for this interview. And Putin counted on the same audience because he needed it as a means for effectively attacking the US.
However, at the same time, Putin had one more target audience - Russia.
The interview was presented to the Russian audience as evidence that the free and democratic world recognised Vladimir Putin's vision of Russia and its place in the world.
The interview was placed in a context in which the West wanted to accept Vladimir Putin's reasons for attacking and invading Ukraine and even accept Putin as the benefactor of the American people and the entire mankind.
For the Russian audience, the content of the 2-hour interview did not matter at all
For the Russian audience, the content of the 2-hour interview did not matter at all. They have already heard what the president had to say many times.
Vladimir Putin's fake storytelling was not surprising or new to those who follow his public appearances and speeches.
The only thing that mattered was an interlocutor on the other side who had a reputation in the US, and not just any, but in the part of the population that Putin already manipulated once in 2016, helping Donald Trump become president.
On the kidnapper's side
The Russian propaganda extracted everything it could out of the interview. The Kremlin used Tucker Carlson as a "mailman" regarding the case of the arrested journalist of The Wall Street Journal Evan Gershkovich, whose release price was clearly announced by Putin.
This segment was more like negotiating with the kidnappers, having the negotiator on their side.
After the interview, it was more than clear that Evan Gershkovich was just a hostage Russia has been using to get real Russian spies, or worse, assassins affiliated with Russian intelligence, out of American or European prisons.
From the point of view of the war mode in which the entire Russian state structure, led by Putin, works, the interview with Tucker Carlson was a huge success.
This was expected in this episode of war propaganda, which its co-author (Tucker Carlson) considered to be journalism and a conversation with the other side. Unfortunately, so did thousands of his fans in the US.