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Op-Ed: Putin Played Tucker Carlson Like a Child

By Chris O’Neill


I am a big fan of Tucker Carlson - or at least I used to be. Tucker’s foray into Putin’s Russia has shaken my faith. I believed Tucker to be a great articulator, but he has damaged his credibility with his Moscow propaganda fest.


His touted interview with Putin is not valuable as a classic source of news; Tucker didn’t even attempt to speak to the elephant in the tea room. All his questions were softball.


The interview was only valuable from the point of view of those interested in studying Putin from a psychopathographic standpoint – his body language, manner of communication and applied manipulative techniques.


But scraps of hard news were mostly reaped through inference – Putin, for example, several times returned with anger to the topic of Poland, an indication that Poland’s front-line support for Ukraine has gotten under his skin. The news, thus, for Poland, is to speed up its military readiness.


One cannot escape the impression that Putin had Tucker completely x-rayed before he sat down. Putin knew that Tucker wanted to understand him and he played with that. He fed him a historical mishmash of truths and falsehoods, and convinced Tucker to believe that he (Putin) believes his own story.


Putin also dangled the lure of the “Russian soul” – the belief that somehow Russians are mysterious and exceptional. He spoke about “...the Ukrainians encircled by Russians who, refusing to surrender, shouted, in perfect Russian: ‘We Russians never give up.’


“You see” Putin continued “You can divide us politically, but you cannot divide the Russian soul.” Knowing that one of the most important parts of an interview is how it ends, he coyly asked “Should we end here or is there anything else?”


“No,” Tucker replied, with what sounded like repressed exaltation, “that was great.” Tucker was played like a child.


It wasn’t enough for Tucker to be used by Putin as a mouthpiece to reach reach millions of Americans susceptible to the pro-Russian narrative, Tucker also decided to actively build his own shed to add to Putin’s Potemkin Village.


Tucker visited a Russian grocery store in Moscow. This was an Auchuan supermarket - a French-owned chain - that refused to leave Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Shopping the aisles, Tucker marveled at the product selection and then, after check-out, voiced indignation that he would have spent four times as much in the US.


Too bad Tucker didn’t shoot one of his Tucker Carlson Shorts somewhere in the Russian hinterlands. If anyone is curious what those places away from the public eye look like, let them take a look at the film made by Polish travelers in northern Russia called Norylsk - Piekło Północy [Norilsk – Hell of the North].

“Hell of the North” shows life in this remote Russian industrial nickel-mining city of 200,000, including human feces in the hallways of decrepit apartment blocks and pollution so palpable that first time travelers automatically cover their faces.


The Polish people are not naive when it comes to the Ukraine, but they know the real enemy to the east – it is Russia.



Chris O'Neill is a journalist with the North Shore Leader. He was a Fulbright Scholar, and was awarded both the Polonia Restituta and Solidarity Cross by the President of Poland, for his work in ending the communist tyranny and bringing freedom to Poland.  Originally from Long Island, he lives with his family in Warsaw, Poland. 


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