Chris Wallace rips Putin in first appearance on CNN
CNN anchor Chris Wallace criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin during his first appearance on the network on Wednesday, questioning his mental state amid an ongoing global crisis sparked by the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine.
“There were a couple of things that from our interview in 2018, it was the day of the summit with Donald Trump … where Trump seemed to fold and say ‘I believe Putin rather than our own intelligence agencies about interference in the 2016 election,'” Wallace recalled while speaking on CNN’s morning cable program on Thursday morning .
“At one point I asked him, this was in the Russian embassy, with Russian security, Kremlin security all around, I said, why is it that so many people who oppose Vladimir Putin end up dead?”
From that point on during his interview with Putin, Wallace said, “I had his undivided attention, he sat up, those piercing ice blue eyes sort of boring into you.”
The version of Putin he sees now in public statements and appearances amid the invasion is more unstable and potentially dangerous, Wallace suggested.
“The second thing was what you saw as the motivation for going into Ukraine, this sense of grievance about what the West has done, NATO moving east, and taking a lot of the former Eastern Bloc,” Wallace said.
“The one thing that I didn’t get — and which I think we all feel now — is that I thought he was a rational actor, and now you wonder about that given his decision to go into Ukraine with the obvious impact it’s had not only on the Russian military but the Russian economy and the world.”
Wallace’s comments come as he debuts a new interview-style show on CNN’s streaming service, which he was hired to host after leaving Fox News, a fierce rival where he spent decades as lead news anchor and moderator.
Top opinion hosts on Fox have been criticized in recent weeks by some Democrats and media watchdogs for either praising Putin in the past, criticizing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky or suggesting the United States has little to gain from involving itself in the conflict in Eastern Europe.
In his first on-the-record comments since leaving Fox late last year, Wallace did not address comments by top Fox hosts on Russia but did say he “no longer felt comfortable with the programming” on the network following the 2020 presidential election.
The longtime political anchor and analyst has separately criticized what he has described as a media landscape that focuses too heavily on lucrative opinion-driven content.
Wallace also suggested one of the reasons he left Fox was due to the repeated questions he would get about comments made by the network’s prime-time hosts.
“I wanted to put all of that behind me,” Wallace said. “There has not been a moment when I have second-guessed myself about that decision.”
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