According to current and former members of the European Parliament, Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin could lead to the independent journalist being targeted for sanctions by EU parliamentarians.
Carlson visited Moscow this week and announced on Tuesday that he will “soon” release an interview with the Russian president
Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and current member of the European Parliament, told Newsweek that Carlson’s work in Russia may land him in hot water with the EU.
The lawmaker, who has called for the EU to consider imposing a “travel ban” on Carlson, described him as “a mouthpiece” of former President Donald Trump and Putin, adding: “As Putin is a war criminal and the EU sanctions all who assist him in that effort, it seems logical that the External Action Service examine his case as well.”
Carlson explained his motivation for the interview in a video statement released on Tuesday.
Why I’m interviewing Vladimir Putin. pic.twitter.com/hqvXUZqvHX
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) February 6, 2024
“Most Americans have no idea why Putin invaded Ukraine or what his goals are now,” he said. “We are not here because we love Vladimir Putin….We are not encouraging you to agree with what Putin may say in this interview, but we are urging you to watch it. You should know as much as you can.”
The External Action Service (EAS) is the EU’s diplomatic arm in charge of foreign policy. To be added to the EU’s sanctions list, an individual must provide evidence to the EAS for evaluation. If considered sufficient, the EAS can next propose the case to the European Council, a group comprised of EU state leaders who make the final decision on whether to apply penalties.
As a result, any possible punishment against Carlson may be some time off, even if the move obtains enough backing among European MPs and heads of state.
Members of Parliament cannot impose punishments on their own. Given the Council’s heated debate over multiple rounds of sanctions, particularly those targeting Kremlin-linked persons, adding Carlson to that list would be a tall assignment.
One European diplomatic official, who did not want to be identified because they were not permitted to talk publicly, told Newsweek that any further travel restrictions would likely require proof that he is tied to Moscow’s actions, which “is absent or difficult to prove.”
Still, former MEP Luis Garicano told Newsweek he agreed with Verhofstadt’s position. “He is no longer a newsman, but a propagandist for the most heinous regime on European soil and the one which is most dangerous to our peace and security,” Garicano said of the journalist.
“First of all, it should be remembered that Putin is not just a president of an aggressor country, but he is wanted by the International Criminal Court and accused of genocide and war crimes,” MEP Urmas Paet, who previously served as Estonia’s foreign minister, told Newsweek.
“Carlson wants to give a platform to someone accused of crimes of genocide—this is wrong. If Putin has something to say he needs to say it in front of the ICC. At the same time Carlson is not being a real journalist since he has clearly expressed his sympathy for the Russian regime and Putin and has constantly disparaged Ukraine, the victim of Russian aggression.
“So, for such propaganda for a criminal regime, you can end up on the list of sanctions. This concerns primarily travel ban to EU countries.”
Here is a list of journalists who have interviewed Vladimir Putin in the past:
1. Megyn Kelly – NBC News
2. Fareed Zakaria – CNN
3. Charlie Rose – PBS
4. Chris Wallace – Fox News
5. Oliver Stone – Filmmaker and director
6. Anderson Cooper – CNN
7. Larry King – Former CNN host
8. Bill O’Reilly – Former Fox News host
9. Matt Lauer – Former NBC News host
10. Wolf Blitzer – CNN
11. David Letterman – Former late-night talk show host
12. Christiane Amanpour – CNN
13. Tom Brokaw – Former NBC News anchor
14. Dan Rather – Former CBS News anchor
15. Sean Hannity – Fox News
16. John Dickerson – CBS News
17. Bob Costas – NBC Sports
18. Joe Scarborough – MSNBC
19. Greta Van Susteren – Former Fox News host
20. George Stephanopoulos – ABC News
There is one strong reason why the mainstream media is objecting to Tucker Carlson interviewing Putin: They cannot control the narrative.
For example, an NBC interview in June 2021 went sideways when Putin began pointing out the U.S. media’s propaganda and the Biden administration’s oppressive behavior.
If you want to know why the U.S. media is flipping out over Tucker’s interview of Putin, this clip will explain it all 👇pic.twitter.com/lIDEqgoObj
— Kyle Becker (@kylenabecker) February 7, 2024
“You portray it as protest and hostility towards dissent in Russia. We see things completely differently,” he remarked in the interview. He then referred to the Capitol riots in Washington D.C., when extremist groups were allowed to disrupt the 2020 election challenges.
“Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress?… They came there with political demands,” he said.
Putin also made the dubious claim that the Kremlin had nothing to do with the poisoning of dissident Alexander Navalny with a nerve agent that nearly killed him.
“We don’t have this kind of habit, of assassinating anybody,” Putin claimed.
“Did you order the assassination of the woman who walked into the Congress and who was shot and killed by a policeman?” Putin said, referring to Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot by Capitol Police officer Michael Byrd.
No wonder the U.S. media doesn’t want independent journalists going anywhere near Vladimir Putin.
Even if Putin isn’t to be trusted, his ‘whataboutism‘ can hold a mirror up to the Democratic Party and its media mouthpieces in a way that can make Americans uncomfortable.