Tucker Carlson May Face a Travel Ban After His Interview With Putin

By: Alex Trent | Published: Feb 11, 2024

A recent interview with President Vladimir Putin has landed former Fox News show host Tucker Carlson in hot water. The latest development in the story is that he may be facing sanctions in the future from actual government bodies like the European Union and the European Parliament.

While some are praising Carlson’s willingness to risk himself to produce the interview, others have criticized him as a “mouthpiece” for the Kremlin.

Carlson’s Putin Interview

Since leaving his popular Fox News show last year, Tucker Carlson has taken it upon himself to have conversations with people he views that mainstream media is not covering well enough.

A photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting in a chair.

Source: Palácio do Planalto/Wikimedia

Previously, Carlson interviewed social media pariah Alex Jones and the father of an imprisoned American journalist named Gonzalo Lira. Lira was arrested in Ukraine on propaganda charges, and later died in custody in January of this year.


Justification for the Interview

Carlson predicted the outrage over his decision to interview the Russian president but still decided to carry on with his mission. In a video statement, Carlson remarked “Most Americans have no idea why Putin invaded Ukraine or what his goals are now. They’ve never heard his voice. That’s wrong,” (via ABC News)

Tucker Carlson speaking with Charlie Kirk on stage.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

“We are not here because we love Vladimir Putin…We are not encouraging you to agree with what Putin may say in this interview, but we are urging you to watch it. You should know as much as you can,” he said.

Interview Reactions

Tucker Carlsons’ interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin had not even been released yet, but just the news that it is happening has already provoked strong reactions from some lawmakers and commentators in the media.

A display of nesting dolls featuring Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin

Source: Jorgen Hadland/Unsplash

According to a Newsweek story, sanctions might be on the table against the news host. The rationale behind the sanctions is that any attempt to portray the Kremlin in a positive light given Russia’s recent actions is unconscionable.

Carlson Slammed by Former Prime Minister

Guy Verhosfstadt, the former prime minister of Belgium, decried the interview in comments made to Newsweek.

A picture of the Royal Palace in Belgium.

Source: Chris Liverani/Unsplash

“As Putin is a war criminal and the EU sanctions all who assist him in that effort, it seems logical that the External Action Service examines his case as well,” he said. He also described Carlson as “a mouthpiece” for President Putin and former President of the United States Donald Trump.

Who is the External Action Service?

In the European Union, the External Action Service (EEAS) is a government organization that makes decisions related to foreign policy. The body can decide to bring a case against an individual like Carlson to the European Council, which can decide to impose some form of sanctions.

A series of flags from the European Union.

Source: Guillaume Perfigois/Unsplash

Usually, these sanctions are reserved for people like Russian billionaires, whom the EU sees as nefarious actors supporting the criminal actions of the Russian state.


What Has the External Action Service Said?

The lead spokesperson for the EEAS, Peter Stano spoke to Newsweek to deny sanction discussions are currently taking place against Carlson.

The EEAS building in Brussels.

Source: FrDr/Wikimedia

“While in general, we do not comment on the process of proposing, discussing or adopting EU sanctions—since this is an internal, confidential process in the competence of EU member states—at present there is no discussion in relevant EU bodies regarding this particular person,” he said. (via Newsweek)


Hard to Justify Sanctions Against Carlson

An anonymous diplomatic official told Newsweek that an actual case against Carlson would be hard to justify at the European Council. A travel restrictions case against the Fox News host would require finding a direct link between him and Russia’s aggression campaign.

Tucker Carlson standing while wearing a red-striped tie.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

The official said that such a link “is absent or hard to prove.” Still with the interview not having been released yet, it is difficult to make a definite determination what the final reaction will be.


Former MEP Voices Support for Sanctions

Luis Garicano, a former member of the European Parliament (MEP), added his voice to the chorus of people calling out Carlson’s interview.

A meeting of EEAS members with other politicians

Source: U.S. Department of State/Wikimedia

In some harsh remarks, Garciano said “He is no longer a newsman, but a propagandist for the most heinous regime on European soil and the one which is most dangerous to our peace and security,”


The Seriousness of Putin’s Crimes

Urmas Paet, another former MEP emphasized how critical it is to not portray Putin in a positive light.

Protest signs that signal a protest to the war in Russia.

Source: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona/Unsplash

“First of all, it should be remembered that Putin is not just a president of an aggressor country, but he is wanted by the International Criminal Court and accused of genocide and war crimes,” he said. (via Newsweek) Paet also previously served as Estonia’s foreign minister.


The Motivation for the Interview is in Question

Previously, Tucker Carlson has been a sympathetic voice to Russia and Vladimir Putin in the news media. Russia’s decision to grant Carlson the interview was seen as revealing by Western media commentators. This is because Russia has consistently denied other foreign and Western journalists the chance for an interview, leading some to believe the interview motivations are impure.

A bridge connecting different parts of Moscow.

Source: Alex Zarubi/Unsplash

Carlson has been an opponent of giving US foreign aid to Ukraine and previously complimented Putin for being a defender of Christianity.


Are People Rushing To Judgement?

Given that the content of Carlson’s interview had not even been seen by the public yet, it’s unusual that people were already commenting on it. If people wish to criticize the interview, those criticisms would be more effective if they had specific examples to point to.

A photo of Tucker Carlson speaking on stage.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

If Carlson conducts a fair interview with tough questions, then it may make his critics seem like the unreasonable ones in the eyes of the public watching.