Gabriel Sherman writes that Megyn Kelly may have “gone rogue” by meeting privately with Donald Trump — without Roger Ailes’ blessing.
From New York Magazine:
On the morning of April 13, Megyn Kelly slipped into Trump Tower for a meeting with Donald Trump. The Fox News star was there to make peace and a pitch: She wanted Trump to end his personal attacks on her and agree to appear on a Barbara Walters–style special that Kelly is hosting next month.
She arranged the private sit-down herself. She told Trump that not even her boss Roger Ailes knew she was there, according to a source familiar with the meeting. After a reporter spotted her entering the building, news of a possible détente in the Trump-Kelly war boomeranged around the internet, and both CNN and MSNBC devoted breathless segments to the story.
Fox executives, caught off guard by Kelly’s clandestine outreach, released a statement suggesting this was all according to plan: Ailes had spoken to Trump “a few times over the past three months,” it noted, implying that he had helped her get the meeting. Later that night, Kelly confirmed on her show that she and Trump discussed the possibility of an interview. She made no mention of Ailes. “The meeting was at my request,” Kelly said.
If Kelly did indeed go rogue on the Trump meeting, it says a lot about her relationship with her employer — and about her employer’s relationship with the GOP front-runner. Ever since she tangled with Trump in front of the 24 million viewers watching the debut GOP debate last summer — a performance that transformed her in the eyes of many into a fearless interviewer and feminist symbol — Kelly has become Ailes’s biggest star, and biggest management headache. Meanwhile, Trump’s attacks on Fox have badly damaged its credibility with its core right-wing audience. (A February poll reported that Fox’s standing with Republicans had plummeted by 50 percent since the beginning of the year.)
Trump has engaged in an on-again-off-again feud with the network since September, refusing to appear one-on-one with Kelly for eight months, so a Kelly-Trump interview would undoubtedly draw big ratings. Presumably, Kelly went off on her own because she wants to claim credit for the booking. “She did it to prove she doesn’t need Ailes to make things happen for her,” a high-level source said. Or perhaps she is taking a page from Trump himself and operating as if her own brand were bigger than Fox’s.
Meanwhile, tensions at Fox are only getting worse. Two sources told me that a senior Fox executive instructed on-air talent not to defend Kelly against Trump’s attacks.
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