Meet ABC News’ Rachel Scott, Who Looked Putin In The Eye And Asked Him: ‘What Are You So


There was a moment, during the questioning on Wednesday of Russian president Vladimir Putin by US reporters, that stunned American journalists, produced the kind of encounter you almost never see between Russia’s strongman leader and a Western journalist — and, indeed, sent many of those reporters racing to Twitter in praise of this particular Putin inquisitor, ABC News congressional correspondent Rachel Scott. Because of how fearlessly she asked this US adversary who’d been coddled by the previous administration and who has cracked down on free speech and jailed political rivals, among other offenses, the following question:

“What are you so afraid of?”

Her full question, which she delivered to Putin during his solo press conference, after his first face-to-face meeting with President Biden following the latter’s election, 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?”

Watch the encounter below:

Putin, in his response, tried to link unrest in the US over things like the murder of George Floyd with “extremist” opposition evident in his country as displayed by supporters of Navalny. “We feel sympathy for the United States of America, but we do not want that to happen on our territory, and we are doing our utmost to not allow it to happen. ‘Fears’ has nothing to do with anything.”

Meanwhile, not content with asking the kind of question that would get a journalist whisked away to a gulag in short order in Putin’s country, Scott doubled down — telling Putin (who, remember, even Biden himself recently described as a “killer”) that the fact that all of his political opponents are either “dead, in prison, or poisoned” seems to send a message that he doesn’t want a fair political fight.

One journalist after another has been, quite appropriately, raving about Scott’s bravura display of journalistic fearlessness in the face of a world leader with a long list of enemies reportedly murdered on his orders or on the orders of people in Putin’s orbit. That list includes politician Boris Nemtsov, journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and exiled Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, to name just a few. 

Meantime, here’s a little more detail about Scott and her work with ABC News:

  • She’s a native of Southern California who graduated from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Her career with ABC News began back in 2016, when she worked as a production associate for ABC News Live.
  • Per 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;
  • In 2020, she also “provided extensive on the ground coverage of the nationwide protests over police brutality and the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on communities of color”; 

Here’s a sampling of some of the praise she’s garnered from social media, from users who caught her questioning of Putin:


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