Tucker Madness is Good for America
The former Fox News talk show host-turned independent media phenomenon, Tucker Carlson, is in Moscow, where he has committed the mortal sin of interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin. The interview is scheduled to air at 6 pm eastern time on Thursday, February 8. Let there be no doubt—Tucker Carlson has pulled off one of the most memorable journalistic accomplishments in modern history, and when the interview does air, it will—literally and figuratively—break the internet.
As someone who has travelled to Russia twice in the past year to engage in “people’s diplomacy” designed to advocate for better US-Russian relations, I applaud Tucker Carlson’s decision to go to Moscow and get this interview. The American people have been infected with a virulent case of Russophobia transmitted to them via a political and economic elite who have built a model of American relevance predicated on the need for an enemy capable of sustaining a military industrial and congressional complex by justifying an expansive budget that leaves America weaker and shareholders wealthier.
Rampant Russophobia threatens American security by creating a false sense of danger around which policies that could lead to a military confrontation with Russia—and nuclear war—are formulated and implemented. If the American people are to have any hope of surviving the next decade, then an antidote to the disease of Russophobia must be administered. This antidote is not difficult to acquire—it consists of fact-based truth grounded in a realistic understanding of the world we live in, inclusive of a sovereign Russia. The real issue is administering this antidote because the traditional vectors for the dissemination of information in America—the so-called mainstream media—have long since been corrupted by the very political and economic elites who are promoting Russophobia to begin with.
Love him or hate Tucker Carlson (I am guilty of having done both; I currently count Tucker as one of the “good guys”), he represents a massive media presence that operates outside the span of control of the informational elite in America, a social media-based presence which, given its association with Elon Musk’s “free speech” platform, X (the former Twitter), cannot be shut down or silenced.
Quantifying the “Tucker Carlson factor” is a challenge. Back in August 2023, Tucker interviewed former President Donald Trump; the interview was streamed at the same time as a prime-time Republican Party presidential debate that Trump had boycotted. Fox News, which broadcast the debate, attracted some 12.8 million viewers during the two-hour broadcast. Donald Trump later posted on X that the interview had received 236 million views a day after it was streamed. But that number reflects what X calls “impressions,” not actual views—that number was just shy of 15 million (not as impressive, but still beating out the Fox debate.)
Let’s be clear—major networks would kill to have 15 million viewers (the final episode of the HBO hit series “Game of Thrones” brought in 13.8 million viewers, the most in that network’s history.) There are outliers—the 1983 final episode of MASH attracted 136 million viewers, and the 2023 Super Bowl drew over 115 million. But for Tucker Carlson to bring in 15 million viewers for an independent social media event was unprecedented. And while “impressions” aren’t “views,” per se, they cannot be discounted—236 million “impressions” means Tucker was moving the needle somewhere.
Scott Ritter will discuss this article on Ep. 134 of Ask the Inspector.
And, when it comes to delivering an antidote to Russophobia, these “impressions” matter as much as the actual views. Let there be no doubt—the Tucker Carlson interview with Vladimir Putin will attract huge numbers of viewers—most likely shattering records for a streaming event on X. But we are at the stage where the actual content of the interview doesn’t matter—the mere fact that this interview has taken place has set the information world on fire. The amount of support Tucker Carlson has received is impressive—a clear indication of the power of alternative media. But the real tell is in the extreme vitriol the idea of this interview has produced among the ranks of the political and media elite in the United States and Europe.
It seems that every major personality in the mainstream media has weighed in on the issue, universally condemning Tucker for daring to operate outside his “lane.” No, it seems, the right to interview Vladimir Putin apparently resides only with the chosen few, those self-anointed gatekeepers through which all information suitable for public consumption must pass. Tucker has also been vilified by a class of political elites who have, together with their like-minded accomplices in the mainstream media, been responsible for infecting the minds of average Americans with Russophobia-laced nonsense. For Tucker’s sin, these elites have called for his excommunication—his passport seized, travel bans, and even criminal prosecution.
These American elites have gone insane. Their arrogance in assuming that they represent some sort of moral and ethical police force imbued with extra-constitutional powers designed to punish free speech when the content is no longer convenient to the official narrative is matched only by their collective ignorance of the Constitution when it comes to free speech. Their actions are the living embodiment of un-American activities, an irony that seems to escape them as they attack Tucker Carlson’s patriotism for having the audacity to give a platform to perhaps the most important voice about the most critical issue of our time.
Moreover, the stupidity of these elites is mind-bending. If they truly believe Tucker Carlson’s platforming of Vladimir Putin is a bad idea, then the appropriate response is to turn to the US Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. In this, we have the example of Justice Louis Brandeis, who opined on the issue of free speech and its relationship to American values while hearing arguments in the 1927 case, Whitney v. California. “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence. Only an emergency,” Brandeis argued, “can justify repression.”
The question before us, then, is whether Tucker Carlson’s interview of Vladimir Putin constitutes an emergency warranting repression. Brandeis provides guidance in answering this question by referring to the founding fathers of the United States of America. “They [the founding fathers] believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth: that, without free speech and assembly, discussion would be futile; that, with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people. Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced by law—the argument of force in its worst form.”
Tucker Carlson’s detractors do not seek to engage him in a battle of ideas—the kind of discussion based upon the power of reason embraced by the founding fathers. If they chose this path, they would be engaging in activities that represented the quintessential value of American free speech. As Brandeis noted, “we have nothing to fear from the demoralizing reasonings of some, if others are left to demonstrate their errors and especially when the law stands ready to punish the first criminal act produced by the false reasonings; these are safer corrections than the conscience of the judge.”
Tucker Carlson has not committed any criminal act. If people disagree with his actions or, once the interview with the Russian President becomes public—his words (or the words of President Putin), then they are free to demonstrate the errors of Tucker, Putin, or both.
The problem, however, is that the proponents of Russophobia operate in a fact-free environment, where ideological hatred has replaced informed judgment, where actual knowledge about Russia has been supplanted with fantasy-laced fiction. They fear Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin because, through this interview, ideas, narratives, and facts that have been ignored or suppressed by the political and media elites will be set forth in unfiltered fashion for the American public to consider free of the influence of those who seek to manipulate the population through narrative manipulation.
One such “gatekeeper” is Fred Hoffman, a retired US Army Colonel who served as a Foreign Area Officer and who has converted this service into a teaching sinecure at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. “The main problem I have with Tucker Carlson interviewing Vladimir Putin,” Hoffman noted in a recent posting on X, “is that Carlson is being used as a tool, a ‘Useful Idiot,’ in the Kremlin’s strategic disinformation campaign against the West.”
Not one to let an opportunity for defending free speech to pass me by, I authored a reply:
One would hope that self-proclaimed “national security experts” like Hoffman would welcome the opportunity to dissemble the illogic and fallacies they believe will be present in the product of Tucker Carlson’s interview with President Putin. I, for one, would relish this kind of intellectual combat, an opportunity to demonstrate to the public the strength of my ideas and the flaws of those of my opponent.
But Hoffman and his ilk do not relish such a challenge, in large part because of the deficit of fact and logic inherent in their position. Putin and Russia, in their minds, have been reduced into a simplified black and white, good-versus-evil caricature which exists only to mock and criticize. Any action which provides the target of this debasement with an opportunity to defend itself, to put forward alternative facts, to challenge the status quo narrative, must be avoided at all costs, for the simple fact that Hoffman and his colleagues are ill-equipped to engage in such activity.
Tucker Carlson’s interview with President Putin represents the greatest threat to the proponents of Russophobia in recent history. I say this with more than a little bitterness, for myself and others have been at the forefront of the struggle against Russophobia for years, with minimal impact. Watching Tucker Carlson swoop into Moscow and accomplish in days what I have been struggling to do over the course of a lifetime is, to be frank, a hard pill to swallow, especially when I had myself submitted a request back in September 2023 for an interview with the Russian President.
Would I have loved to have the opportunity that has been given to Tucker Carlson?
Am I upset that he got this interview, and I did not?
To be honest, I was—more than a little.
But that’s because I’m only human, and jealousy is very much a human trait that resides inside me as much as anyone else.
But I’m over it.
Let’s be honest—I’m an expert, a historian.
I’m not your classic journalist.
My ideal interview with Vladimir Putin would be in the form of a conversation where I could learn about the challenges he faced in the early years of his presidency, overcoming the inherited legacy of the catastrophe of the 1990’s.
Of how he and Akhmad Kadyrov brought an end to the Chechen conflict.
About what prompted his address to the Munich Security Conference in 2007.
How he overcame the dominance of the oligarch class and create an economy that enriches Russia, and not Russian billionaires.
I’d want to know how he felt about the betrayal of the Minsk Accords.
The betrayal of the United States when it came to arms control.
About his connection with the Russian people.
My interview would have had no “gotcha” moments.
It would lack the drama of the hunt, where the wily interviewer seeks to find the chink in the logic of the interviewed.
In short, my interview would have bored the living hell out of an American audience. And it would not have moved the needle in any appreciative manner when it comes to overcoming Russophobia in America today.
Tucker Carlson is an accomplished journalist. He knows how the game is played. There is no doubt that he will package the interview with President Putin in a manner which is both informative and entertaining. He will elicit responses designed to create controversy in the United States and Europe, to challenge the official narrative, and to inject a new point of view into the American public.
In short, Tucker’s interview will be everything that any interview I might have conducted would not have been. It will be a game-changing moment, a historical event. It will shake Russophobia in America to its core and, in doing so, hopefully set in motion the grounds for a broader discussion of US-Russian relations that could set America on a trajectory away from conflict, helping eliminate the possibility of a nuclear war.
Such a result would be a good thing. And it is my duty to be prepared to use whatever resources I can muster to help facilitate such a national dialogue.
I applaud Tucker Carlson for having the courage to make this trip to Russia, and to pursue this interview.
As I know from personal experience, the cost one pays for undertaking such a journey is high.
But I also know that the benefits of such a journey, from the perspective of what is good for America, outweigh these costs.
I am convinced that Tucker Carlson is doing what he believes is best for America.
My hope is that most Americans will come to share this belief and that, because of this interview, America will find itself on a path where peaceful coexistence with Russia is the preferred outcome.