A satirical video of an interview between Tucker Carlson and Vladimir Putin went viral. We VERIFY key steps you can take to spot similar fakes.
No American member of the media has had the opportunity to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin since Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine two years ago.
So when former Fox News host Tucker Carlson said he was in Moscow for a sit-down with Putin on Tuesday, Feb. 6, the interview became a talker itself. The interview took place on Tuesday, according to Reuters. The full interview is scheduled to air on Carlson’s website on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. ET.
A day before the air date, a video appearing to show a clip from the interview went viral on X.
Note: This video contains profanity.
WHAT WE FOUND
The video is clearly satire, because the content is meant to be funny or off-putting and does not resemble any other interview ever conducted by Carlson or with Putin as the subject. The voices heard in the video are also sensationalized and don’t sound like Carlson or Putin.
But there were other red flags that indicated this viral clip wasn’t real.
The questions and answers don’t align with the main topic Carlson said would be discussed – the war in Ukraine – Carlson and Putin appear to be sitting in very different locations and the audio didn’t sync with lip movements.
There will likely be more fakes of this video and similar videos shared online. Here are key points to look for when you come across clips, in order to verify whether they’re real or fake.
As with anything you might see on social media or television, or hear on the radio, you should always check the context. Follow these tips:
- Do a gut check. Does what you’re seeing or hearing make sense? If it feels off, do an internet search of the topic and the person.
- Look for pieces of information or details that are inconsistent with others that you have read or seen.
- Look for fact-checks of the content from fact-checking sites such as VERIFY.
When Carlson announced he would be interviewing Putin, he posted a video outlining why he was in Russia – to talk about the war between Russia and Ukraine.
In the fake video, Carlson appears to be asking Putin about various topics like Taylor Swift, the 2024 presidential election, thoughts on Bud Light and Jeffrey Epstein’s death. There is no mention of the Ukraine-Russia war in the fake video.
With fake or manipulated videos, it’s not uncommon for the video to be created using original videos from different sources. If you conduct a reverse image search of a screenshot from the video, you’ll likely find the original video used to create the fake.
On Feb. 8, before the interview was aired on Carlson’s website, Carlson posted a photo of himself sitting across from Putin. That photo confirms they are not wearing the same outfits or have the same backgrounds seen in the fake video.
When we reverse image searched this video, we found it was created using two different clips – one of Putin and another of Carlson published at different times, and the outfits weren’t the same.
The clip of Putin was created from a June 2021 interview between Putin and NBC News’ Keir Simmons. Putin is wearing the same outfit and earpiece in both the real 2021 video and fake clips, as well as sitting in front of the same background. During the real interview, he was not speaking English and the audio in English was provided by a translator. In the fake, Putin appears to be speaking in English.
The clip of Carlson was created from an April 2023 interview between Carlson and former President Donald Trump, while Carlson was still with Fox News. Carlson is seen wearing the same shirt, suit and tie in both clips and the gold background with textured walls is the same.
3. Visual and audio details
When a video clip has been altered or manipulated, there are details to look for when analyzing the content. Listen to the tone of and the pace of the voices. Do the voices sound like the person speaking the words? Do the voices match the lips as they are moving?
After determining that the viral video was created from two old videos of Carlson and Putin, we took a look at some of the elements to further confirm it as fake.
Notably, the audio does not align with lip movements.
At the 13-second mark in the video, Carlson’s mouth moves but no audio can be heard
At the 16-second mark in the video, you can hear Putin speaking even though his lips aren’t moving.
If you have questions about something you see online and want VERIFY to check it out, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on social media @verifythis.