Trump Faces Backlash Over Larry King Interview on Russia-Backed TV Network

Trump and Larry King split-Getty-H 2016
Joe Raedle/Getty Images; Steve Granitz/WireImage

RT is run by the Russian equivalent of Voice of America and funded by the Kremlin.

There may have been better outlets for Donald Trump to air grievances about the media coverage of his campaign than state-supported Russian television, as he fights the image of being too chummy with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Larry King's Thursday night broadcast on RT, a TV network funded by the Russian Ministry of Communications, played host to Trump's criticisms anyway.

“I mean, they'll take a statement that you make, which is perfect,” Trump said, referring to the U.S. media, “and they'll cut it up and chop it up and shorten it or lengthen it, or do something with it, and then all of a sudden, it doesn't look like as good as it did when you actually said it.”

The significance of the Russian venue was not lost on Trump's campaign, which has frequently objected to quotes and statements from the GOP nominee being taken out of context.

"Nobody said it was going to be on Russian TV," Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told Chris Cuomo on CNN's New Day Friday morning. A Trump spokeswoman told Bloomberg reporter Kevin Cirilli she thought the interview was going to be for King's personal podcast, not RT.

Whether genuine mixup or another signal of good faith to Moscow, Trump's appearance comes at a time when accusations are swirling about whether the Russian government is meddling in the U.S. election.

After the Democratic National Committee was hacked in July, exposing institutional bias in favor of candidate Hillary Clinton over opponent Bernie Sanders and forcing DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign, many fingers in Washington pointed to Russian intelligence agencies.

U.S. officials from a range of security agencies said in July there was little doubt that Russia was behind the cyberattack.

Hillary Clinton has criticized Trump for his endorsements of Putin, even sounding notes of conspiracy in the relationship between the two men.

"There is no doubt in my mind," she told ABC's David Muir in an interview on Monday, "that given the close relationships between certain people, present and past in Trump’s campaign, with Russian interests all the way up to Putin himself, that there is something going on."

There's no denying Trump's rhetorical fondness for the Russian leader. In July, he went so far as to suggest that he might not back NATO if a military conflict broke out with Russia. Trump has praised Putin for his leadership skills on numerous occasions, an affinity that Democrats have tried to construe as weak and not in the national interest. Vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine has said that Trump's pro-Putin rhetoric reflects an "irrational hostility" toward Obama.