The BBC‘s John Simpson delivered a brutal slap down of Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin, claiming the American “didn’t ask a single hard question” and that the tyrant was allowed to “drone on”.
Carlson broadcast his interview with Putin, among the rare occasions the Russian president had allowed himself to be interviewed by someone from the West, on Thursday night (February 8), following its recording earlier this week.
The interview marked Putin’s first interview with a Western journalist since his country’s war with Ukraine began in February 2022.
It also came at a time of heightened tensions within the Kremlin, as Russia‘s conflict stutters as the second anniversary approaches.
During the two-hour sit down between Putin and Carlson, topics included former Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s involvement in the Ukraine war and how ex-US President Bill Clinton told the dictator that Russia would be welcomed to join NATO.
But the ex-journalist has been attacked for allowing Putin to speak for long periods, unchallenged, with his lines of questioning also criticised.
Among the critics was Simpson, one of the great war correspondents.
Taking to X, formerly Twitter, the BBC editor said: “I’m glad Putin finally let himself be interviewed by a Western journalist — just sorry it was Tucker Carlson, who didn’t ask a single hard question and allowed him to drone on, unchallenged.”
He added: “That’s exactly why they didn’t allow someone serious to do the interview, of course.”
Carlson’s interview began in front of a snowy Russia and saw him make several fake claims, including that “not a single Western journalist has bothered to interview” Putin.
Among the biggest takeaways was the notion that Clinton had offered Russia a route into NATO, the West’s military alliance.
During the inteview, Putin said: “At a meeting here in the Kremlin with the outgoing President Bill Clinton, right here in the next room, I said to him, I asked him: ‘Bill, do you think if Russia asked to join NATO, do you think it would happen?’ Suddenly he said, ‘You know, it’s interesting. I think so.'”
He added: “But in the evening, when we met for dinner, he said: “You know, I’ve talked to my team, no, no, it’s not possible now.’ You can ask him. I think he will watch our interview, he’ll confirm it.
“I wouldn’t have said anything like that if it hadn’t happened. Okay, well, it’s impossible now.”
In response, Carlson then pressed the dictator on whether Russia would have joined NATO.
The president replied: “Look, I asked the question, is it possible, or not, and the answer I got was no.”