A former CIA Russia analyst said Saturday that a question edited out of Megyn Kelly's interview with President Vladimir Putin appeared as if the former KGB agent wrote it himself.
HuffPost obtained the unedited version of Kelly's interview with Putin for NBC News.
Here is the final question, which was not included in last Sunday's broadcast:
"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?"
Kelly's query was slammed by the former CIA agent, whom HuffPost did not identify.
"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," the ex-Russia agent said.
"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," the former agent continued. "And he’s obsessed with people seeing him as the one who brought dignity back to Russia."
Kelly, 46, who joined NBC from Fox News in January, has been widely slammed for her Putin interview.
Filmmaker Oliver Stone was among those attacking the session, even though his own interviews with the Kremlin leader ran on Showtime this week.
Her "Sunday Night" program is scheduled to air an interview with Alex Jones, operator of the InfoWars website, who has charged that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings were a hoax and most of its victims – including 20 children – were actors.
One NBC affiliate – WVIT, whose coverage area includes Newtown, where the killings occurred – said that it would not air Kelly's interview with Jones.
According to HuffPost, Kelly had only 20 minutes to interview Putin, and a source said that no restrictions were placed on the session.
An NBC News spokesman declined to comment Saturday on Kelly's line of questioning.
In addition, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack and President Noah Oppenheim were among those helping Kelly prepare for the Putin sit-down – and sources also told HuffPost that she spoke to five prominent Russia experts for her interview.
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