Three days into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, I was bleeding out on a muddy lawn in front of a small salmon-colored house in Akhtyrka, northeastern Ukraine. I had been shot four times, two in the legs, one in the back, and one in the left butt cheek. My colleague Stefan Weichert, who had been shot in the shoulder, was trying quite desperately to save my life.
I’m telling you about this now because I was transported back to that moment when Tucker Carlson–the fired Fox News host—claimed he was a journalist swooping in to finally deliver “the truth” about what was happening in Ukraine via his interview with President Vladimir Putin.
“Here’s why we’re doing it,” Carlson explained in a video posted on X. “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.”
I’m sorry to tell you, Mr. Carlson, but Stefan and I were on the ground in Ukraine before this war even began, informing Daily Beast readers exactly what was going on. Thousands of other foreign correspondents have been doing exactly the same thing, informing Americans and the rest of the world all about Putin’s iniquitous invasion.
On that day in February 2022, the howls of Russian mortar fire and roaring fighter jets dominated the soundscape around us. It was the beginning of the invasion. Stefan and I were trying to document the first use of cluster munitions on civilians—a kindergarten had been hit. As I lay there thinking I was dying, I didn’t mind too much. After all, documenting war crimes is the most important job a war correspondent can do.
I survived primarily because of Stefan, as well as a soldier who took the time to drive me to the hospital, and a neurologist, who miraculously carried out life-saving surgery despite not being a regular surgeon. I believe she was called Oksana.
After I was released from the hospital, it took me half a year to learn how to walk without crutches and another six months to walk well enough to start working in Ukraine again. When I did get back, I moved straight to the city of Bucha, where Russian soldiers had meticulously killed over 400 civilians.
I wonder if Tucker Carlson knows about the massacre in Bucha.
Has he ever heard the story of Yahidne? Where Russian troops forced 300 civilians into a basement, where they lived for a month. Seven people, the Russians executed themselves. Ten others died from the horrendous conditions in the basement, where there was no air to breathe and no space to lie down.
Did he hear about the maternity hospital that was bombed by Russia in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol or the torture basements in Kherson?
Free Speech My Bullet-Riddled Ass
Tucker Carlson says he is posting the video interview of Putin on the social media site X, owned by fellow Ukraine-skeptic Elon Musk, because it is the only place that still has free speech.
If free speech is something Carlson cares about, I hope that he will exercise his right to free speech and ask Putin why the civilians in Yahidne had to be trapped in a basement with no food, air, or medicine for a month.
Ask him why the civilians in Bucha had to die. Why did you bomb the maternity hospital in Mariupol? What’s with the gang rapes of Ukrainian women? The targeting of civilians?
Ask Putin if the “Nazi regime of Kyiv” is in the room with him now.
But Carlson will not ask him any of those questions. Like Musk, he is in the business of selling outrage, fear, and lies to the gullible under the guise of free speech. Carlson is not stupid, he is just an opportunist profiting from the horrors unleashed by Putin.
In his ludicrous video justifying the stunt, Carlson claimed that no other Western journalist “has bothered” to interview Putin. It was such an obvious lie that Putin’s own spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, stepped in to contradict him.
Steve Rosenberg from the BBC and Christiane Amanpour from CNN were among the veteran reporters who jumped in to say they had been pushing for an interview with Putin for years.
There are also real Western journalists in Russia trying to cover the Russian perspective on the war. Evan Gershkovich from The Wall Street Journal is one of them. In a month’s time, it will be a full year since he was detained on bogus espionage charges by the Russian security service FSB. He has been incarcerated ever since.
Real journalists do not get access to grill Putin outside of his stage-managed annual TV Q&A.
The Russian reporters who pressure him with exposés or investigations that put the Kremlin under pressure are liable to get jailed. Or assassinated.
Tucker Carlson is about as far from being a journalist as they come. The primary proof—if it were needed—is the fact that he has been allowed to interview Vladimir Putin in the first place.
He has been consistently regurgitating Russian propaganda since before the invasion and he claimed that Volodymyr Zelensky, the democratically elected Jewish president of Ukraine, is a “rat-like” dictator.
Carlson is allowed access to Putin because he is a pro-Russian propagandist. Because he dances to Putin’s tune, because he has been justifying the Russian war against an imagined Nazi threat in Ukraine.
I will still be watching the interview, of course. It is Tucker Carlson’s last shot at redemption, but just as he has fumbled all of his previous jobs, he will miss this chance at doing a real interview with Putin.