Tuesday, March 13, 2018

NBC Interview of Vladimir Putin | March 2018

Turn on English subtitles [CC] above

The New Yorker
by Masha Gessen

Over the weekend, NBC released a nearly hour-long interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the reporter Megyn Kelly conducted over two days, earlier in March.

At the same time, the Kremlin dropped its own version of the conversation [video above], an apparently unedited video that came in at nearly an hour and a half. It seems that both NBC and the Kremlin thought they had something to boast about. Kelly had scored a rare sit-down interview with the Russian President while Putin had succeeded in fending off all of Kelly’s questions.

Kelly’s interview with Putin was additionally affected by incompetence in a way that neither participant probably understood: one of the two interpreters kept mistranslating. At one point, Kelly asked Putin about Donald Trump, Jr.,’s statement, from 2008, that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” The interpreter rendered this much-reproduced phrase as, “We have a lot of investment in Russia.”

“That’s nonsense,” scoffed Putin. An absurd exchange followed, with Putin acting annoyed and Kelly surprised at the outright denial of something that she didn’t ask about.

Kelly brought up the anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, who has been denied the right to run for President because he has been found guilty of fraud on trumped-up charges. Kelly asked why Putin wouldn’t just pardon Navalny in order to allow him to run, but the interpreter rendered “pardon” as “partner,” asking Putin why he couldn’t “partner” with Navalny. Putin proceeded to answer that question.

For the final version that aired on NBC, the network replaced the Russian interpretation with its own, perhaps unwisely, lending the interview an illusion of logic and creating sense where it was lacking. Then again, Kelly herself seems to have missed the central feature of her conversation with the Russian President. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, she acknowledged having been out-manipulated by Putin, who, she said, “is the smartest man in every room.”

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