'But can we afford her?' the chief Kremlin spokesman quips -- but actually the Russians do not hire journalists for PR
Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, waded into the controversy surrounding NBC host when he praised her interviewing skills, but said her $23-million-a-year contract might be too much for the Russian media.
In the wake of the blackface comments that cost Kelly her job, she has received at least two (mostly) tongue-in-cheek offers. One from Russia’s Channel One, the most popular terrestrial broadcaster, and the other from the Federal News Agency, which has been painted in US news outlets as the public face of purported Russian “troll farm”Internet Research Agency – claims which it vehemently denies.
On Monday, Peskov was asked to comment on Kelly’s career prospects in foreign media.
“You know, she has a big salary. I am not sure the Federal News Agency can afford her,” Peskov said in reference to Kelly’s reported three-year $69 million contract she signed after leaving Fox News last year.
“Of course this is not our sphere of competence – we do not hire journalists. But she did conduct a very energetic and dynamic interview with Vladimir Putin,” the long-time Putin lieutenant said regarding a one-on-one piece with the Russian president broadcast in June last year.
Kelly, 47, lost her NBC show, but will reportedly receive a full payout, after comments lamenting the growing sensitivity over wearing blackface at Halloween, which she claimed was acceptable as part of a costume when she was a child.
While she may be put off by the lack of reach of the Federal News Agency – which had pages linked to it removed from Facebook last year, and is currently suing the social media network – she could be attracted by its pro-free speech stance.
In his job pitch, Alexander Malkevich, who leads its English-language project USA Really, complained that “the political censorship in the United States is gaining unprecedented scale and unimaginable scope” and can turn a “famous journalist into a real pariah,” and boasted that while working for the Russian outlet “you can speak and write all the thinking person wants.” Kelly has not yet replied.