Under heavy scrutiny, particularly from grassroots conservatives, Fox News anchor and journalist Megyn Kelly defended controversial questions she asked Donald Trump and other GOP candidates at last week’s Republican presidential debate as “good journalism.” Or was it merely just good “talent”?
Kelly stirred conversation when she adjourned her post as Fox News primetime host for a 10-day(!) vacation less than a week after moderating the first GOP debate of the 2016 election cycle. Some of the public, including Trump, speculated that the sabbatical was–at least in some part–due to heavy blowback from the conservative grassroots following the debate.
Late Friday, a Fox News spokesperson sent out the following statement decrying those who suggested Kelly’s vacation was anything but routine:
The conspiracy theories about Megyn Kelly’s vacation rank up there with UFO’s, the moon landing and Elvis being alive. Megyn is on a pre-planned, annual summer vacation with her family, which is much deserved. To imply otherwise as Donald Trump and his campaign operatives have is not only wildly irresponsible, but downright bizarre. Perhaps Mr. Trump thinks it’s advantageous to his poll numbers to keep talking about Megyn, but that doesn’t change the fact that Roger Ailes has fully supported her and her tough journalistic questioning since day one and is thrilled with the added exposure from the debate which resulted in even higher ratings of The Kelly File this week. Anyone who knows Roger is aware of how historically and consistently loyal he is to all of his talent and how he protects them at all costs. As Governor Terry Branstad said today, “when you’re a candidate, you’ve got to basically answer the questions. You can’t just attack the person asking the questions. That doesn’t work.”
The strikingly defensive statement equated those who believe that the international media firestorm in which Ms. Kelly was embroiled had anything to do with the surprise vacation — to those who believe Elvis is alive or the 1969 moon landing was faked.
The Fox News Channel spox went on to rip The Donald himself, calling him “wildly irresponsible” and assured readers that Kelly still had the full backing of boss and media guru Roger Ailes. However, perhaps clumsily, this line slipped into the statement:
Anyone who knows Roger [Ailes] is aware of how historically and consistently loyal he is to all of his talent and how he protects them at all costs.
Kelly received intense criticism when she defended her approach to the debate as “good journalism.” Being that she is on vacation, the 9pm hour Fox News anchor presumably was unavailable to respond or perhaps even to review this statement from the Fox News spokesperson, but we can’t imagine she will take kindly to being called “talent,” a descriptor typically reserved for actors and star performers. Particularly when Kelly defended a line of questioning early in the debate–that implicitly referenced a spat between the billionaire businessman and comedian Rosie O’Donnell and other less-than-friendly tweets from his Twitter feed–as “good journalism.”
Perhaps Ms. Kelly would prefer to think of herself as a “journalist” or as an “anchor” or at least as a “host.” But apparently that is not how she is thought of by the Fox News Channel brass.
To them, she is “talent.”
It goes without saying that Fox News put on a show, but surely Megyn Kelly was more than the “talent.” Wasn’t she?