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Critics and pundits panned Megyn Kelly's big NBC debut

Maxwell Tani
megyn kelly

(Russian President Vladimir Putin with NBC anchor Megyn Kelly.Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Megyn Kelly's highly-anticipated debut on NBC News landed with a thud on Sunday.

Critics and many viewers panned the marquee interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin on "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly," the newsmagazine program set to compete with "60 Minutes" on Sundays.

Many said the anchor, who is famous for her sharp elbows and cutting questions, was easily bested by the former KGB agent.

Variety called her debut "passable," and said Putin's repeated denial of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election made the interview "very short on dramatics and long on repetition." CNN agreed, dubbing the debut "low-key" and saying the Putin interview was" theatrical enough but largely news-free."

Los Angeles Times television critic Lorraine Ali went further, arguing that Putin "outmaneuvered" Kelly, and proved that the NBC anchor was "still not a great interviewer."

"For Putin, it was child’s play as he displayed an elusive and ultimately dismissive demeanor toward Kelly," Ali wrote.

Observers also noted that the NBC anchor did not press Putin on matters beyond his involvement in the 2016 election, and did not adequately question him on his human rights record.

Others found the broadcast beyond the interview boring.

NPR critic Eric Deggans called the show "tepid" and "rather conventional," saying additional reported packages by Cynthia McFadden and Harry Smith did not elevate the show to "the kind of blockbuster, stylistic storytelling you would expect from a program trying to challenge CBS' powerhouse Sunday news magazine, '60 Minutes.'"

But not everyone disliked Kelly's first NBC performance.

The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik said NBC might "finally have a winning newsmagazine," saying the program "sharply focused in content and storytelling on women at a time of cultural change in terms of gender and power."

Kelly has occasionally choked under pressure during much-hyped interviews.

After getting under then-candidate Donald Trump's skin during a presidential debate, her sit-down with Trump during the 2016 election was also panned as too soft-focus and middling.

The debut came as Kelly also continues to prepare for her daily 9 a.m. show on the network this fall.

NOW WATCH: 'Do you even understand what you're asking?': Putin and Megyn Kelly have a heated exchange over Trump-Russia ties

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