Images of US talk show host Tucker Carlson in Moscow have been published by Russian media outlets, causing critics to slam the journalist as a “traitor” amid rumours that he will conduct a “sit-down interview with Vladimir Putin”.
The former Fox News host, 54, reportedly arrived in the capital on February 1 after flying in from Istanbul.
The Russian news site Mash published an image of the commentator allegedly in the Bolohio Theatre, attending a performance of Spartacus.
If the rumours are true, then Carlson will be the first Western journalist to interview Putin since the Ukrainian war began in February 2022.
A picture of Carlson appears to show him at a Spartacus performance at the Bolshoi Theatre
Reacting to the photos, Bill Kristol, former chief of staff to the vice president of the United States during the Reagan administration, suggested a temporary ban for Carlson re-entering his home country.
He said: “Perhaps we need a total and complete shutdown of Tucker Carlson re-entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Adam Kinzinger, the former Republican Illinois representative, chimed in on the rumours, stating on social media that Carlson was a “traitor”.
The Kremlin has declined to comment on whether Carlson was in Moscow to interview the Russian President.
Tucker Carlson left Fox News in April 2023Twitter/Tucker Carlson
“We can hardly be expected to provide information on the movement of foreign journalists,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“Many foreign journalists come to Russia every day, many continue to work here, and we welcome this.
“We have nothing to announce in terms of the president's interviews to foreign media.”
Ukrainian officials doubted the likelihood of Carlson being in Russia to interview Putin.
Former advisor to the internal affairs ministry in Ukraine, Anton Gerashchenko wrote on social media: “Putin doesn’t sit down with journalists one on one too often. The last time it happened in 2021, when Putin talked to NBC’s Keir Simmons.”
However, Republican congresswoman Majorie Taylor Greene has defended the prospect of Carlson interviewing the Russian President.
Posting on social media, she said: “We have a free press in this country and its people like Tucker Carlson who we depend on to speak the truth.”
Robert F. Kennedy Jr also supported an interview between the journalist and Putin. He said: “Traditional media is in decline because we have learned to catch them in lies and propaganda. Tucker Carlson has every right to interview Putin. The more transparency the better. It used to be normal for journalists to talk to world leaders, including those we fought with.”
Carlson is known to be sympathetic to Putin and is popular with the Russian state-controlled media. Vladimir Solovyov, an anchor on the Russia 1 channel, urged him to “come join us” after he departed Fox News in April 2023.
Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said last year that he believes that the “time will come” for a Western journalist to speak with the Russian president.
He added: “Whether Carlson will be among those who will be considered for an interview, well, let’s wait and see.”