Fox News host Megyn Kelly is criticizing the media obsession with covering Donald Trump.
“It does bother me, and I don’t think it’s right,” she said in a conversation with Yahoo! News anchor Katie Couric at the Women in the World Summit. Couric asked Kelly whether the comments from media organizations who cited Trump as being “good for business” bothered her.
Kelly admitted that she experienced the Trump rating boost herself, such as when she featured his “compelling” press conference on the Mexican border on her show. She said that although she enjoyed the soaring ratings numbers, she finally told her producers that it wasn’t right.
“I said ‘this isn’t right’” she recalled, pointing out that she could see the trend of other media outlets featuring live Trump coverage for ratings.
“I said, ‘When the post-mortem is done on the coverage of Donald Trump, wherever this race goes, let’s make sure we’re on the side of the angels,’” she recalled. She said she implemented a policy of not carrying Trump events live, long before the first debate where she tangled with Trump on the debate stage.
“Why? Because we don’t do that for other candidates, so it’s not fair,” she said. “Yes, we have to worry about numbers to some extent … but we also have to worry about our souls and journalism.”
When Couric asked about the difficulty of weighing the importance of access to Trump and asking him tough questions, Kelly admitted that she was discouraged by the behavior exhibited by her colleagues.
“I think it’s so ironic, because if everyone had stood up from the beginning and asked very tough questions, which is what we get paid to do, there wouldn’t have been this issue,” she said. “Because we would have all been shoulder to shoulder asking tough questions so you couldn’t cut off access.”
Kelly defended her debate question, reminding journalists that their job was to “press” the candidates on tough issues.
“What his answers are is for the voters to evaluate and make up their minds about, what the questions are, it’s up to us,” she said.
She said that she was concerned that her experience with Trump discouraged other journalists from getting tough with him in interviews.
“What would have happened if they had gone a different route? What would have happened if everybody — and you’ve seen a lot more of it now — what would have happened if in that moment, everyone had gotten tough? Really tough?” she asked.
She cited her experience as one that should have encouraged journalists to rally to her defense, but they didn’t.
“There’s strength in numbers on our side too, and this was a moment, this was an opportunity for solidarity among the press that I think we missed,” she said.
She criticized networks for allowing Trump to appear over the phone for interviews and even broadcasting his rallies live.
“We don’t do that for anybody. We don’t do that for Hillary, we don’t do that for Bernie or Cruz we never did it for Rubio or Scott Walker,” she said. “Only one candidate.”
She alleged that Trump had tried to “curry favor” with her before he ran for president, sending her notes and complimenting her show.
After she asked him the “war on women” question during the first debate, Kelly suggested that Trump felt betrayed.
“My own belief is when he heard that question from me, he felt betrayed,” recalling the debate. She insisted that Trump wasn’t singled out during the debate, pointing to other tough questions to the Republicans on the stage.
“They all got it right in the kisser… Trump was the only one that complained,” Kelly said.
She said that the level of vitriol and hatred leveled at her by Trump supporters was difficult to deal with, but that it was part of the business.
“I understand that the people who love Donald Trump, not all of them but many of them, a lot of them feel that he was attacked and therefore they feel justified in attacking me,” she said. “I also understand to some extent, it’s part of the job. Politics is a tough business and news has gotten to be a very tough business.”
When first asked about her Trump feud, Kelly expressed solidarity with Couric, noting she made news asking tough questions of Sarah Palin in 2008. She pointed to her interviewer and said, “You know a thing about this, because you did a very famous interview with Sarah Palin in which you were the news after that happened. Right?” As the audience applauded and Kelly laughed, Couric responded, “Little bit. Not really.”
Watch the entire interview below: