At the opening night of Tina Brown's Women in the World Summit on Tuesday,U.N.Ambassador Nikki Haley,sat down with NBC News anchor Greta Van Sustern for what was billed as a chat about "her high-stakes job as one of President Trump's top diplomats."
It wasn't the friendliest audience.The summit kicked off with a performance of "Quiet" by MILCK,which became afeminist anthemduring the Women's Marches in January.Katie Couric moderated a get-out-and-fight-for-your-rights kind of talk withCecile Richards,the president of Planned Parenthood,and poet/activist/feminist icon Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.Haley's talk was book-ended by a panel about weaponized healthcare in Syria,and an interview with Evgenia Kara-Murza,the wife of Vladimir Kara-Murza,a Russian pro-democracy activist and critic of Vladimir Putin who almost died after being poisoned.
So yeah,kind of a cold room for a Trump appointee.This interview wasn't taped in some studio somewhere,it was in front of a live audience—an audience of empowered,professional women in New York City,smack dab in the"liberal bubble."Things got awkward.
Everything was going OK until Van Susteren asked Haley about Trump's foreign policy priorities: "We have not heard a lot about Russia," she said."Why?"
The room erupted with laughter and applause.It was a wild moment during an event that's usually very tame and well-mannered.
"Everyone wants to look at [Trump's] words,but look at his actions," Haley responded,to boos from the crowd."The two things that Russia doesn't want to see the U.S.do is strengthen our military and expand energy.And the president has done both of those."
Haley did criticize Russia's reaction to the recent chemical attack in Syria,echoing commentsshe made earlier in the day at the United Nations Security Council,after Russia objected to a resolution that condemned the attacks.Trump said on Wednesday that he was reassessing his approach in Syria following the attack,though Neither Haley nor Trump have provided further details about that approach.
But at the summit,Haley's comments about Russia were so reminiscent of common criticisms of her boss that the crowd just laughed at the irony.
"If you say what they want to hear,they like it," she said."If you tell them the truth,they don't like it." And,a little later: "They just make things up."
Each time,Carlson pointedly moved on.She did the same thing when an audience member yelled out,"What about refugees?" And Carlson wrapped up by saying,"If these problems were easy,we would have had them solved a long time ago."
And here's the thing: We have to commend Haley for showing up at this event.She didn't have to do this interview,in front of a live audience,while there are pressing world affairs to attend to.She had to know going in that she wouldn't have a lot of fans in the room.And she did it anyway.We need more people to be willing to have these kinds of tough conversations.