On the January 6 episode of 60 Minutes, veteran CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl interviews Margarita Simonyan, head of Russia’s state-owned news network, RT (Russia Times). Among other things, RT has been accused of spreading disinformation during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Stahl says to Simonyan, “Let’s talk about Russian interference with our election, which our intelligence agencies tell us happened.” That wasn’t a question, but Stahl’s pregnant pause lets Simonyan raise her eyebrows and interject, “And you believe them.” Simonyan taunts — sorry, points out — that the same agencies told Americans there were Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Simonyan then laughs, “Continue to believe that Russian interfered with the American election.” She also says, “In five years, you will know that they didn’t.”
Stahl misses the opportunity to ask why five years and instead says, “It’s also Facebook, and Twitter that say the same thing.” Simonyan uses a mocking tone, “Oh, what do they say?” Stahl says, “They say the Russians used their websites to perpetrate pro-Trump, anti-Hillary Clinton information.” Simonyan asks if it’s illegal for Russian media to broadcast their opinion on Facebook or Twitter. “Isn’t that what the American media do?” She points out that British and French media supported Hillary Clinton but were not accused of interference. Stahl brings up the fact that Simonyan invited Michael Flynn, who later became Trump’s National Security Adviser, to RT’s anniversary gala in 2015, paid him $45,000 to attend, and sat him next to President Putin. (Photos were taken.) Simonyan says, “Putin didn’t know who he was. I give you my word on that.” 60 Minutes airs Sundays at 7pm on CBS.