NBC News anchor Megyn Kelly will travel to Russia next month to moderate a session at a business forum where Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to be on the dais.
Yesterday was Kelly’s first official day on the job at NBC, during which the network confirmed that she would get the 9 a.m. Monday-through-Friday slot formerly held by Al Roker and Tamron Hall, and that puts her in direct competition with Live with Kelly on ABC. It’s undetermined if Kelly’s show will be part of the Today franchise or a separate program.
During the early June event, Kelly will moderate a session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, sharing the stage with Putin.
According to NBC, “The conversation will cover a wide range of global political and economic topics, including international trade agreements, cyber-security and the impact of rising military tensions.”
The specific timetable for the Kelly-Putin plenary session in Russia has yet to be nailed down.
NBC has been trying to generate buzz for its high-profile new hire, and boss Andrew Lack recently flew to Russia apparently to try to orchestrate a Kelly-Putin sitdown.
“This is a great way for Megyn to get an inside track and land the big one-on-one interview with President Putin.” a source told the New York Post.
Megyn Kelly’s NBC gig also includes a Sunday night 60 Minutes-style news magazine premiering in June, along with network anchoring duties during big events. Evidently, NBC believes that a Kelly-Putin interview, which other news networks are also pursuing, would jump-start the Sunday night offering. The U.S. media industry has prioritized a Putin interview, particularly given the controversy over alleged Kremlin meddling in the 2016 presidential election as well as tensions between America and Russia over Syria.
However, conspiracy-minded filmmaker Oliver Stone may have scooped all other media outlets with his upcoming documentary The Putin Interviews, which will air on Showtime on four consecutive nights starting on June 12. Stone sat down with Putin, the former KGB officer who enjoys near-dictatorial powers over his country, in Moscow multiple times over a two-year period to compile the footage, during which they discussed many issues.
“NBC News seems eager to have her pursue outsize interviews with people from culture and politics that others can’t snare. Such ‘gets’ are the coin of the realm in the TV-news business,” Variety observed about Megyn Kelly.
For what it’s worth, Megyn Kelly has already taped an interview with the Kardashians.
Despite a big-money contract on the table from the Murdoch family to continue as host of The Kelly File, Megyn Kelly, 46, famously left the Fox News Channel in January for NBC. Lifestyle, in part, played a role in the switch: No longer working at 9 p.m. Eastern every weeknight, the NBC schedule gives Megyn Kelly more time to spend with her three kids. Enhanced prestige was also likely an element in her decision.
After taking over the coveted 9 p.m. time slot from Megyn Kelly and The Kelly File on Fox News, Tucker Carlson doubled his predecessor’s ratings. He has since switched to 8 p.m. after the departure of Bill O’Reilly and the cancellation of The O’Reilly Factor.
Some media observers have expressed uncertainty as to whether Megyn Kelly will thrive in the new time slot and if her talents will seamlessly transform to more lifestyle- and celebrity-driven daytime content.
Some Megyn Kelly critics contend that when the ambitious media star famously challenged Donald Trump during the August 2015 GOP presidential debate over his past disparaging comments about women (“only Rosie O’Donnell,” the future president famously quipped), it was more about careerism and auditioning for another network — which turned out to be NBC — than a legitimate journalistic inquiry. That exchange prompted a long-running feud during the election campaign, although Kelly says that she and the president have since buried the hatchet.
It remains to be seen if Megyn Kelly will be similarly aggressive with Russian President Putin as she was with Donald Trump.
[Featured Image by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Images]