Last spring, it seemed Tucker Carlson might have reached the end of his fiery path through American media and politics.
Fox News canceled his top-rated show, depriving Mr. Carlson of his nightly platform in prime time. But it kept him under a contract, worth more than $15 million a year, that prohibited him from taking a job with a rival.
Under the old rules of the legacy media, Mr. Carlson would have been off the air and out of sight through the end of the 2024 election, when his contract runs out. But Mr. Carlson is no typical television star. And what was once normal in his industry is increasingly archaic, shattered by the new rules — or lack thereof — of the fractured online media world.
In landing an exclusive interview with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — released on Thursday on the social network X and Mr. Carlson’s own streaming site, Tucker Carlson Network — the host has returned with a vengeance to the center of American politics.
The two-hour interview gave him a bullhorn to an American audience just as many congressional Republicans worked to block a vital lifeline of American military aide to Ukraine.
It also accomplished Mr. Carlson’s goal of recapturing the spotlight. For the first time since his defenestration from Fox, his name was once again on the lips of major national and international figures, the kind of notoriety on which Mr. Carlson has long thrived.