TV

Megyn Kelly asked Putin about 'personal toll' of leading Russia, secret tapes show

Unaired footage from Megyn Kelly's recent interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin shows the NBC News host asking if Putin's 17-year run as the head of the Kremlin had taken a "personal toll."

In the clip, which was initially obtained by the Huffington Post, Putin responds to Kelly's question by saying, "I hope not. I hope not," before reciting a litany of claims about the positive impact his tenure has had on the Russian people, as well as his "live, direct connection to this land."

"Our population's real time wages have grown manifold, pensions have grown several times over," Putin said as Kelly watched on. "The economy has almost doubled in size ... Our armed forces are completely different today from what they were, say, 15 years ago.

"All of this, including our great history, great culture, all of this; not just what we see today, is what makes the vast majority of Russia’s citizens feel proud of their country."

The footage was published as Kelly and NBC faced a backlash over her interview this Sunday with radio host Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist who claimed the Sandy Hook massacre that killed 26 people in 2012 was a hoax.

The episode featuring Putin drew six million viewers, but was critically panned, with one reviewer predicting that the show "is never going to be seen again once NFL football takes over Sunday nights on the peacock network."

Another critic was film director Oliver Stone, who said Friday that the Kelly interview showed that Putin "knew his stuff and she didn't."

"I think she was attractive and she asked hardball questions, but she wasn't in position to debate or counter him, because she didn't know a lot of things," said Stone, who himself interviewed Putin more than a dozen times for a program broadcast on premium cable channel Showtime.

Stone drew an angry response from NBC News President Noah Oppenheim, who told the Associated Press that "no one here is interested in Oliver Stone's unsolicited thoughts on Megyn Kelly's appearance or his ill-informed opinion of her journalism."

"But so long as we're offering each other professional feedback, please let him know I don't think he's made a decent movie since the early '90s," Oppenheim added.

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