Tucker Carlson stated Wednesday on his primetime show that he had “contacted a couple of people I thought could help us get an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.” He had reached out to these contacts shortly before making the accusation on his June 28 show that according to a source in the U.S. government, the National Security Agency (NSA) had been monitoring his emails and texts in an attempt to “take this show off the air” (which the NSA has since denied).
Carlson’s on-air statement came after Axios’ Jonathan Swan reported earlier Wednesday that “Carlson was talking to U.S.-based Kremlin intermediaries about setting up an interview with Putin shortly before he accused the NSA of spying on him.” Swan added, “It is unclear why Carlson, or his source, would think this outreach could be the basis for NSA surveillance or a motive to have his show canceled.”
Swan said he had not confirmed if any of Carlson’s communications were intercepted and if so, why.
On Wednesday, Carlson said he did not tell anyone about the attempt to reach out to these contacts, other than his executive producer Justin Wells, because he “figured that any kind of publicity would rattle the Russians, and make the interview less likely to happen.” He accused the Biden administration of “reading my emails” and leaking the contents to news outlets in order to “paint me as a disloyal American, a Russian operative—been called that before—a stooge of the Kremlin, a traitor doing the bidding of a foreign adversary.”
He also told viewers that he had been “unmasked” and said NSA chief Gen. Paul Nakasone “should explain who asked for that unmasking.”
Trying to secure an interview with the Russian leader isn’t exactly out of the ordinary. His Fox News colleague Chris Wallace earned an Emmy for his interview with Putin in 2018, and NBC’s Keir Simmons sat down with the Russian leader, which aired on June 14.
“We support any of our hosts pursuing interviews and stories free of government interference,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement.
Here’s Carlson addressing the situation on Wednesday:
Tucker insists the NSA leaked his emails seeking a Putin interview in order to destroy his show by painting him “as a disloyal American” because “no decent American would interview Vladimir Putin, at least no reporter from Fox News.”
Chris Wallace interviewed Putin in 2018. pic.twitter.com/rXqIhsareD
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) July 8, 2021