Last spring, it looked like Tucker Carlson might have reached the end of his fiery path through American media and politics.

Fox News canceled its top-rated show, depriving Carlson of his late-night prime-time platform. But he kept him under a contract, worth more than $15 million a year, that prohibited him from accepting a job with a rival.

Under the old legacy media rules, Carlson would have been off the air and out of sight until the end of the 2024 election, when his contract expires. But Carlson is not your typical television star. And what was once normal in her industry is increasingly archaic, shattered by the new rules (or lack thereof) of the fractured world of online media.

By landing an exclusive interview with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, posted Thursday on the social network American politics. .

The two-hour interview gave him a megaphone before an American audience just as many congressional Republicans were working to block a vital lifeline of American military aid to Ukraine.

It also achieved Carlson’s goal of regaining the spotlight. For the first time since his dismissal from Fox, his name was once again on the lips of important national and international figures, the kind of rumors that have long favored Carlson.

Hillary Clinton, in an interview this week with MSNBC’s Alex Wagner, called him “a useful idiot” and Putin’s “puppy.”

Carlson gave Putin space for non-stop disquisitions on long-standing and decidedly one-sided grievances over Ukraine’s origins and independence movements. But Carlson occasionally pressed, to Putin’s visible annoyance, even on why Russia was imprisoning Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter, questioning Putin’s claim that Gershkovich was a spy.

It remains to be seen if the interview improves Carlson’s position in the long term.

The interview with Putin will serve as a kind of publicity for his streaming site, which he founded in December and costs subscribers $9 a month. The Tucker Carlson Network is an attempt to replicate the business model of other conservative personalities like Megyn Kelly and Ben Shapiro, who have built independent digital platforms outside of traditional media. Carlson is working with Red Seat Ventures, a firm that counts Kelly, Bari Weiss and Nancy Grace among its clients, to handle advertising sales on the new platform.

So far, however, Carlson’s self-produced interviews on

His waning power appeared to be at least part of the reason Fox had not done more to stop his new effort even though Fox said it violated the terms of his contract. (Mr. Carlson’s lawyers have argued that Fox originally breached its contract and that its online show falls within its free speech rights.)

If Fox were to pursue a case against Carlson, that could give him an opportunity to claim that his former bosses in the “corporate media,” as he likes to call them, were trying to censor him. It’s precisely the kind of storyline that appeals to Carlson’s fan base, which resembles a political movement in its own right, giving him an influence that few other TV stars have.

It was that influence that made Carlson a huge help to former President Donald J. Trump (and Putin) during his time at Fox News.

Carlson was the most prominent promoter of pro-Russian arguments on the network, including his claim that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine is a dictator who the West is using to undermine Russia, a view he reflected again in his interview with Putin.

But his propaganda style also took him to the limits of cable television.

His involvement in the defamation lawsuit against Fox that Dominion Voting Systems settled for $787 million (and the pretrial discovery of a text by Carlson that conveyed inflammatory views on violence and race) influenced his corporate bosses, Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch, in his decision to cut his show.

Elon Musk, the owner of X, quickly stepped in to make Carlson the first host of a full-length video show on the platform.

Musk completed the purchase of “Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy,” Musk explained to Carlson, who praised him for “restoring free speech to the Internet.”

In content that could alienate advertisers. (X has launched packages costing $300,000 for ads on four of Mr. Carlson’s videos, and up to $1.5 million for ads on 48 videos, according to internal documents obtained by The New York Times.)

Carlson pushed and eventually broke the limits of what the Murdochs could allow on their network. It hasn’t come close to that limit for Musk, who reinstated thousands of previously banned accounts that promoted misinformation about health and elections, which corresponded with a rise in racist and anti-Semitic messages on the social network. On Thursday, Musk, the most followed user on X, shared Putin’s interview with his followers.

Carlson’s show has featured guests, such as conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who have run afoul of content moderation policies on many social media platforms, including Twitter, as X was known before Musk buy and eliminate most of those policies. .

Other guests included independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, each of whom received a supportive reception from Musk at X.

That shared perspective has sometimes extended to Ukraine and Russia. Musk has angered Ukrainians by suggesting they negotiate peace, which they equate with allowing Putin to keep Ukrainian territory he seized through bloody and illegal force.

And while Musk has granted Ukraine the use of his Starlink satellite system for battlefield communications, he has acknowledged blocking its use for a planned attack on Russia in the Black Sea last year. Putin, in turn, praised Musk as a “talented businessman.”

Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskov had similarly warm words for Carlson this week, saying that Putin granted him an interview – which Carlson had been seeking since his days at Fox – because Carlson “contrasts the position of the traditional Anglo-Saxon media.”

Peskov debunked Carlson’s false suggestion that he was the first Western media figure to interview Putin since his full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago because journalists had not bothered to ask. Numerous Western media outlets have made such requests, including The Times.

But Peskov agreed with Carlson that traditional media “cannot boast of even trying to appear impartial.”

Russia has defined impartiality as sticking to its official line, deviating from which risks being punished with jail time. That goes against traditional journalistic standards, standards Carlson doesn’t have to worry about in X.

The interview seems certain to attract a large audience. The test will be whether this generates more subscriptions and interest in his show and, if not, how Carlson will try to outdo himself on his next show.

Kate Conger contributed reports.