Bob Costas Defends NBC's Coverage Of Olympics, Putin: 'He's A Villain'

NBC sportscaster Bob Costas made his opinion of Russian president Vladimir Putin very clear on Monday night, calling him a "villain" and an "adversary."

Costas appeared on Monday's "O'Reilly Factor" to respond to conservative critics who said that he was too kind to Putin — a claim that Bill O'Reilly and Fox News contributor Bernie Goldberg dismissed recently.

"This is a controversy only for those looking for the most flimsy pretext for a controversy and a kind of cut-and-paste thing that isn’t even journalism," Costas told O'Reilly. O'Reilly played a clip where Costas saying that no one views Putin as a "benign figure," and Costas told O'Reilly that he was "repeatedly" critical of Putin's regime, and discussed Russia's "endemic" corruption, jailing of dissidents and "horrible human rights record."

"He's a villain," Costas declared. "He’s an adversary, period."

When O'Reilly asked why the sportscaster covered politics at all, Costas said that that was what the network had always intended to do. The coverage, Costas said, was necessary to frame the Olympics accurately. "If in fact they were successful... it would burnish the image of a man and a regime whose image did not deserve to be burnished."

Watch their conversation in the clip above.