ABC News reporter Rachel Scott on Wednesday confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin about the persecution of his critics and political opponents.
Scott was at Putin’s solo news conference following the Russian leader’s meeting with President Joe Biden. Her full question to Putin, which has stunned many, was as follows: “President Biden has said that he would respond if cyberattacks from Russia do not stop. I’m curious: What did he tell you? Did he make any threats? And a quick follow-up, if I may, sir.
“The list of your political opponents who are dead, imprisoned or jailed is long. Alexey Navalny’s organization called for free and fair elections and an end to corruption, but Russia has outlawed that organization, calling it ‘extremist,’ and you have now prevented anyone who supports him to run for office. So, my question, Mr. President, is what are you so afraid of?”
Opposition leader Navalny is currently in jail. His supporters say he is being held on politically motivated charges while authorities say he committed fraud.
Regardless, Scott’s question about Navalny and others did make Putin uncomfortable. In answering her question, Putin tried to compare the arrests of his political opponents in Russia to the arrests of Black Lives Matter protesters, as well as the Capitol rioters.
But Scott wasn’t having it.
“You didn’t answer my question, sir. If all of your political opponents are dead or in prison, poisoned, doesn’t that send a message that you do not want a fair political fight?”
Putin replied: “On the question of who is murdering whom, people rioted and went into the Congress in the US with political demands, and many people were declared as criminals and they are threatened with imprisonment for 20 to 25 years.”
“These people were immediately arrested after those events. On what grounds we don’t know always. Others were just shot on the spot and unarmed as well,” he said.
“We sympathise with what’s happening in the States but we do not wish for that to happen in Russia,” he added.
People have since praised Scott for her “journalistic fearlessness”. “Can you imagine standing up in front of one of the most dangerous men in the world, with cameras on you, and STRAIGHT UP asking him what exactly his deal is? NO? Me either. But @rachelvscott did that. Today. To Putin. Vladimir Putin, you heard of him? I’m speechless,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Can we get Rachel Scott both a Pulitzer AND witness protection for a single question?”, another user wrote.
Amid all the praise, here are a few things you should know about the Scott:
1. The 28-year-old is a native of Southern California who graduated from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. She is a congressional correspondent for ABC and hence appears on-screen as well as on platforms across the ABC network.
2. She started her career with ABC News in 2016 when she worked as a production associate for ABC News Live. She worked in many different roles within the network and recently transitioned to on-screen reporting as a White House, DC correspondent.
3. According to her ABC News bio, she was “an essential part of the news division’s reporting on the Trump administration,” which included covering both of Trump’s impeachment trials. She “traveled thousands of miles for the network while on the campaign trail in 2020.” She interviewed almost every 2020 presidential candidate and got an exclusive joint interview with Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
4. Last year, she “provided extensive on the ground coverage of the nationwide protests over police brutality and the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on communities of color”.
5. She was also in Georgia during the Senate runoff elections between Sen. Jon Ossoff and former Sen. David Perdue, along with Sen. Raphael Warnock and former Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
6. Scott is a member of the Forbes 30 under 30 class of 2021, which was released last December. She celebrated the feat on her Instagram. “Ok, some days it really feels like someone is playing a prank on me.
“Really grateful to be selected as Forbes 30 Under 30. Thank you, @Forbes!! Wild to even have my name next to so many people I admire,” she wrote.