Unedited footage of Megyn Kelly’s interview with Vladimir Putin obtained by HuffPost reveals a questioning chockfull of softballs and flattery for the Russian president.
Kelly interviewed the controversial autocrat for the debut of her new NBC show in St. Petersburg last month, and her sit-down was panned for its brevity and dearth of any newsworthy questioning. She was even playfully chided by a colleague for her behind-the-scenes chumminess with Putin.
And now we have footage of the unaired exchange between interviewer and her subject. Per HuffPost, the video “shows a nervous Kelly who asked the authoritarian leader softball questions and failed to hold him accountable on key topics.”
Yashar Ali writes that “Kelly repeatedly fails to interrupt the Russian president while he rambles in his responses,” and she “asks Putin questions he can easily dispute.”
In Kelly’s last question for Putin, which was not aired, and Ali describes as “startling in its pandering,” she asks man who has lead Russia for close to two decades if he feels burdened by his popularity:
We have been here in St. Petersburg for about a week now. And virtually every person we have met on the street says what they respect about you is they feel that you have returned dignity to Russia, that you’ve returned Russia to a place of respect. You’ve been in the leadership of this country for 17 years now. Has it taken any sort of personal toll on you?
Ali spoke with a former CIA Russia analyst, who was reportedly “taken aback by the last question Kelly asked.” According to the analyst:
I can’t begin to tell you what this did for Putin’s ego, and I wouldn’t put it past the Kremlin to use it for propaganda purposes. Putin’s obsession is, by his definition, making Russia great again. He’s obsessed with the idea that he has returned the country to what he sees as the glory days of the USSR. He feels that since the breakup of the USSR, Russia has too often ceded ground where it shouldn’t have. And he’s obsessed with people seeing him as the one who brought dignity back to Russia.
Ali goes on to note a number of topics — from Russia’s human rights abuses to alleged meddling in the US election — that Kelly failed to press the president on.
The unedited footage showing Kelly’s soft sit-down with Putin comes as her interview with another controversial subject, conspiracy theorist and dietary supplement peddler Alex Jones, is due to air Sunday night.
In audio recording surreptitiously and released by Jones ahead of Sunday’s episode, Kelly can be heard imploring the Infowars host to “trust her.”
Watch the clip above, via Huffington Post.
[image via screengrab]
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