Russian State media pundits and personalities are claiming that Hadley Gamble, the experienced CNBC journalist who interviewed President Vladimir Putin last week, was part of an American “special operation” designed to sway and tantalize the Russian leader.
Putin started the pile-on himself by implying that Gamble was too beautiful to understand his remarks during an on-stage interview at a Russian Energy Week panel in Moscow.
His media minions have amplified the patronizing attitude in line with state-sponsored misogyny that is already common in Russia. They are also claiming Gamble was being used as a weapon to undermine Putin in response to a Russian stunt used against President Donald Trump.
According to a recently released book by former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, White House adviser Fiona Hill believed Putin had likely selected an attractive female interpreter “specifically to distract” Trump. On Sunday’s episode of a Russian state TV show Moscow.Kremlin.Putin., reporter Pavel Zarubin noted that Putin doesn’t even need a translator, since he speaks English. Russian experts and pundits roundly concluded that Gamble was America’s response to the Russian president’s choice of an attractive interpreter.
In a brief exchange on the sidelines of the forum, Putin had mugged for the cameras and seemed to find Gamble quite charming, at least until she started to ask questions. His suggestion that she was incapable of keeping up with his intellect came when she pressed the Russian president on whether Moscow was holding back gas supply to Europe to force up prices and increase the pressure to approve the opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
On the popular state TV show 60 Minutes, host Olga Skabeeva concluded that Gamble was taking part in an American “special operation” targeting the Russian president. She noted, “Let me remind you that only a short time ago there was a huge scandal when it turned out that Putin brought translator Daria Boyarskaya to his negotiations with Donald Trump... Look at Comrade Gamble, she is also a beauty. Look at Megyn Kelly, she is the woman the Americans brought the last time. She was a blonde, this time it’s a brunette. They’re in the same age and weight category. They keep trying to get to Putin.”
The state media outlet Vesti pondered, “If Russia is sending beautiful translators to American presidents, then who is coming from the United States?”
Journalist and former politician Mikhail Markelov, who previously hosted a TV program entitled Sovershenno Sekretno ("Top Secret") agreed with Skabeeva’s characterization and described Gamble as America’s “secret weapon.” Markelov surmised that the attractive journalist was “sent” as a counter-response to Putin’s translator, whom he described as “a modest Russian woman.” None of the program’s participants mentioned that Boyarskaya has previously posed for a risqué photoshoot that garnered media attention.
By contrast, Gamble’s appearance and attire were mercilessly picked apart on numerous state TV programs. Pro-Kremlin propagandists portrayed a seasoned professional journalist as a mere honeypot—a covert agent aiming to use sexual attraction to compromise an intended target. On Sunday’s broadcast of Vesti Nedeli, the notorious propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov—best known for stating that “Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash”—chimed in with his borderline obsessive critique of the American journalist.
Kiselyov claimed that Gamble acted “shamelessly,” “cast wistful glances,” and provocatively moved her legs. With an obvious reference to Sharon Stone’s character in the feature film Basic Instinct, Vesti Nedeli asserted that Hadley Gamble’s “basic instinct” prevented her from comprehending Putin's answers to her questions. Based on the journalist’s Instagram photos, Kiselyov alleged that Gamble intentionally lost weight in anticipation of meeting Putin. Dissecting every aspect of the forum moderator’s appearance in his creepy monologue, Kiselyov noted everything—from her “spiky earrings” and “a giant yellow ring,” down to skincare and body language.
The state TV host said, “In Moscow, Hadley squeezed into a tight black dress, fluffed up her flowing hair, and put on a pair of nude leg-lengthening Louboutin high-heel pumps... Hadley Gamble elected to show up to meet the president without stockings and with exposed arms... By the way, about her legs. They were covered in shimmering body oil, as though this wasn’t a work assignment.”
Kiselyov claimed that Gamble “worked her body language to the fullest,” moving her legs, constantly playing with her hair, licking her lips, and “rolling out her tongue.” He surmised that the journalist “behaved boldly, openly positioning herself as a sexual object.”
State media propagandist Vladimir Soloviev was practically seething during his radio program, Soloviev Live, referring to Gamble as “that American broad from the Middle East... who dressed that way to prove that Fiona Hill was right” by distracting Putin with her “sex appeal,” acting “like she was in the movie 9 ½ Weeks or Basic Instinct.” As Soloviev ranted and raved about Gamble’s legs and her dress, one thing was clear: He was actually far more upset about the issues she dared to bring up, including her mention of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the persecution of independent journalists in Russia.
Artyom Sheinin, the host of Time Will Tell, said that in light of the topics Gamble raised with Putin, choosing her as the moderator was the same as picking State Department energy adviser Amos Hochstein—“only leggier.”
The state media’s ridiculous assault on a U.S. journalist’s appearance was merely a smokescreen for what truly drew the ire of the pro-Kremlin media: It wasn’t Hadley Gamble’s dress or her legs, but her questions.