State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert refuses question from Russian TV reporter

March 17, 2018

On March 1, 2018, at a U.S. State Department Press Briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert refused to take a question from a reporter after learning the reporter worked for Channel One in Russia.

The press briefing followed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual state of the nation address, in which President Putin shared a video touting Russia’s new nuclear weapons capabilities. The video included an animation showing the launch of nuclear missiles. One of the missiles is shown flying over a piece of land resembling the outline of Florida.

Nauert was asked about the video at the press briefing.

At the press briefing, Russia 1 TV journalist Alexander Khristenko asked Nauert how Putin’s address could affect the United States’ attitude toward U.S.-Russian relations.

Well, look, it’s certainly concerning to see your government, to see your country, put together that kind of video that shows the Russian Government attacking the United States,” she said.

That prompted a reporter from Channel One — a Russian TV network unrelated to Russia 1 TV — to ask why Nauert believed that the video showed the two missiles hitting the United States. Before the Channel One reporter could finish asking her question, Nauert interrupted her, dismissed her as being “from Russian TV” and refused to answer her question.

Other journalists in the room objected to Nauert’s treatment of the Channel One reporter.

They’re not officials of the Russian government,” a CNN reporter said. “They’re just asking a question about Russia.”

Nauert then said that Russian news organizations are funded and directed by the Russian government, with the implication being that Russian journalists are agents of the Russian government who lack editorial independence.

The State Department did not immediately return a request for comment. 

Read the full transcript of the exchange below:

QUESTION: Alexander Khristenko, Russian TV. Are you still considering negotiations with Russia on global security issues and nuclear arms issues after today’s announcement?

MS NAUERT: Would – are – so your question is would we cut off conversations and negotiations?

QUESTION: I mean do you change something in your attitude toward this?

MS NAUERT: Well, look, it’s certainly concerning to see your government, to see your country, put together that kind of video that shows the Russian Government attacking the United States. That’s certainly a concern of ours. I don’t think that that’s very constructive, nor is it responsible. I’ll leave it at that. Okay?

QUESTION: It was not attacking the United States. It was not attacking the United States. It was two missiles sent to different directions. So why do you say that they are --

MS NAUERT: Are you – oh, you’re --

QUESTION: Sorry. I’m from Russia. Channel One in Russia.

MS NAUERT: You’re from Russian TV, too.

QUESTION: Yes, yes.

MS NAUERT: Okay. So hey, enough said then. I’ll move on.

QUESTION: Wait, I’m sorry. What does that mean?

MS NAUERT: What does what mean?

QUESTION: I mean, it’s – they’re not – they’re not officials of the Russian Government. They’re just asking a question about Russia.

MS NAUERT: Oh. Oh, really? Okay. Well, we know that RT and other Russian news – so-called news organizations --

QUESTION: They’re a --

MS NAUERT: -- are funded and directed by the Russian Government. So if I don’t have a whole lot of tolerance --

Official transcript of press briefing

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