Tucker Carlson joked about feeling like he’s “betraying” the US as he was mobbed by journalists in Moscow during his trip to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Carlson’s interview with Mr Putin is set to be released at 6pm ET (11pm GMT) on Thursday on the former Fox News host’s website.
As he interacted with members of the Russian media in what appeared to be a Moscow parking garage this week, Mr Carlson said he liked the city, adding: “I really do like it, I’m not just saying that.”
He continued: “Why do I feel guilty, like I'm betraying my country for saying that, I'm not, I love America. This is a really nice city. And I don't care. It's true. So thank you.”
Carlson said he has “really enjoyed” being in Moscow. “I’ve never been here before. I think the city is really pretty – this is the only place I’ve been in Russia ... I want to go to Siberia ... I want to go to St Petersburg.
“I'm hardly an expert. I mean, culture is a complicated thing. And I don’t speak the language. So I know very limited amounts about the culture other than what I've read and experienced the past week.”
He once again repeated his newfound fondness for Moscow.
“But I think this is a beautiful city. I can say that. And I don't know if I'm allowed to say that. But it's just true. And again, I'm 54 – I'd never been here before. So I had no idea what to expect. And I expected it to be very different ... I'm amazed by the amount of 19th-century architecture you have.”
Mr Carlson’s interview with Mr Putin comes after he spent years on Fox News and subsequently on X – following his firing from the network – denigrating the Ukrainian cause and pushing Kremlin talking points regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Last summer, following his removal from Fox News, Mr Carlson started his new show on Elon Musk’s X with a pro-Russia rant in which he wildly claimed Mr Zelensky is “sweaty and rat-like” and “a persecutor of Christians”.
As a result, Mr Carlson has been heavily used in Russian state propaganda, as a way to push Russia’s distorted view of the conflict, which was started under the baseless pretence that Ukraine was being led by neo-Nazis – a galling claim as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish and lost relatives in the Holocaust.
Mr Carlson’s support for Russia has been so ferocious that, after he left Fox, he was offered a job on Russian state TV.
“Hey @TuckerCarlson, you can always question more with @RT_com,” state broadcaster RT wrote on X on 24 April last year.
When asked directly why Mr Putin granted an interview to Mr Carlson, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the American’s position contrasted with much of the rest of the Western media.
“His position is different from the others... it is pro-American, but at least it contrasts with the position of the traditional Anglo-Saxon media,” Mr Peskov said.
Mr Carlson gave his own lofty reasons for interviewing the Russian president.
“There are risks to conducting an interview like this, obviously,” Mr Carlson said in a video posted on X on Tuesday afternoon.
“So we thought about it carefully over many months. Here’s why we’re doing it. First, because it’s our job. We’re in journalism. Our duty is to inform people, two years into a war that’s reshaping the entire world. Most Americans are not informed. They have no real idea what’s happening in this region, here in Russia or 600 miles away in Ukraine, but they should know. They’re paying for much of it in ways they might not fully yet perceive.”
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