Vladimir Putin in a propaganda shot from 2009. (Photo by Alexey Druzhinin via Ria Novosti/AFP via Getty Images)

Why Is the American Right Pandering to Putin?

The Russian strongman is a warden of the deepest of deep states. Tucker Carlson believes he’s worthy of admiration.

On Monday, right-wing media personality Tucker Carlson appeared onstage at the World Government Summit in Dubai to talk about the U.S.-Russian relationship. He had interviewed Vladimir Putin the week before, and now he was extolling the virtues of the Russian capital in a country that runs on indentured servitude and sharply curbs freedom of expression.

“It is so much cleaner and safer and prettier, aesthetically, its architecture, its food, its service, than any city in the United States,” Carlson said of Moscow. “How did that happen?”

That’s easy: a miniscule number of people—maybe 500—possess three-quarters of Russia’s wealth, and almost all of them live in the center of Moscow. 

It should be noted that this wealth was not created the way money is created in modern countries. It was mostly expropriated out of the wreckage of the Soviet state, and repackaged into serious-looking companies in steel-glass towers that could fit snugly into New York or London.

The magnates who own these companies don’t really own them the way people own companies in the United States: built with grit and gumption and creativity. They own them so long as the Kremlin lets them own them. Whatever power they exercise is really an extension of Kremlin power. 

Lest you doubt this, just ask Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former Yukos Oil CEO, one of the few Russian billionaires to fall out of grace with Putin and survive, barely. In 2003, Russian agents arrested Khodorkovsky, who had been agitating for democratic reform, aboard his private plane. He spent the next decade in prison. 

All of which is to say the center of Moscow is a bitter Potemkin joke. But Carlson, in his interview with Putin—which took place at the Kremlin on February 6, aired on X two days later, and has so far racked up more than 200 million views—failed to reveal any of that.

Tucker Carlson interviews Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow last week. (Photo by Gavriil Grigorov via AFP/Getty Images)

In a healthy democracy, if we still were one, such a double stunt—granting a sycophantic interview to a supervillain and then trashing the United States and praising Russia while onstage in Dubai—would be greeted with condemnation, shame, or both. But we don’t appear to live in that country right now.

Instead, Carlson’s interview was greeted with applause by many on America’s new right.  

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