Interviewing Vladimir Putin sounds like a huge “get,” but in practice his interview on the debut episode of NBC News’ Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly was underwhelming. The former Fox News anchor’s questions would have been explosive had Putin answered any of them with a “yes,” but unsurprisingly, he did not confess to rigging the U.S. election or having video of our president enjoying the defilement of a Moscow hotel bed.
Instead, Putin took the opportunity to deny every allegation that’s been leveled at Russia since the election. When asked about Russia’s alleged hacking of Democrats’ emails — which he recently attributed to freelance Russian hackers — Putin claimed the Russian government doesn’t care enough to hack the U.S.:
Then why did the U.S. intelligence services say it was the Russians? Some conspiracy theorists think they might have killed JFK, so you can’t trust those guys.
PUTIN: There’s a theory that Kennedy’s assassination was arranged by the United State intelligence services. So, if this theory is correct and that can’t be ruled out, then what could be easier, in this day and age, than using all the technical means at the disposal of the intelligence services, and using those means to organize some attacks and then pointing the finger at Russia?
Were there meetings between Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and members of the Trump campaign?
PUTIN: I have no idea … Do you think that from all over the world or from the United States the ambassador reports to me every day who he meets with or what they discuss there? That’s complete nonsense. Do you even understand what you’re asking or not?
Did Jared Kushner try to establish a secret back channel to the Russian government?
PUTIN: I don’t know about this proposal. No proposal like that came to me.
What’s up with Putin sitting next to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn during an event for the Russian outlet RT?
PUTIN: I didn’t even really talk to him.
Does Putin have damaging information on Trump?
This is just another load of nonsense. Where would we get this information from? Why, did we have some special relationship with him? … We have a lot of Americans who visit us. Right now, I think we have representatives from a hundred American companies that have come to Russia. Do you think we’re gathering compromising information on all of them right now or something? Are you all, have you all lost your senses over there?
As the Washington Post notes, Russian intelligence officials actually are known to gather compromising information on influential foreigners who enter the country. But Putin painted the entire Russian hacking story as the invention of people who hate President Trump and have seen too many spy movies. “You people are so creative over there. Good job, your lives must be boring,” he said.
Putin also shot down Kelly’s one non-election-related question about his reputation for killing journalists and dissidents. He suggested Americans should stop moralizing, saying, “Why do you feel you have the right to ask us these kinds of questions?”
Critics said the rest of the hour looked an awful lot like 60 Minutes, Kelly’s competitor, with segments from other journalists on the illegal marketing of a drug for cancer patients and an elephant orphanage in Kenya.
Before announcing her exit from Fox in January, Kelly said her dream job would be “a little Charlie Rose, a little Oprah, and a little me.” She’ll try out the Oprah bit next Sunday whens she interviews sportscaster Erin Andrews. Apparently highlights include Kelly mixing up the NHL and the NFL, then laughing about it.