Megyn Kelly

Tags ››› Megyn Kelly
  • WaPo’s The Fix Highlights Journalists “Counseling” Trump Through Interviews

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s The Fix highlighted CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s observation that journalists are “counseling [Trump] through interviews,” suggesting answers “instead of asking wide-open questions that force the presumptive Republican nominee to clarify all on his own.”

    Cuomo has noted that during interviews with Donald Trump, interviewers ask questions framed to push him toward a better answer, saying that journalists suggest to Trump, “When you say this, you know, so you mean like you would just kind of do it this way?” instead of asking open-ended questions. Other journalists such as CNN’s Brian Stelter have criticized media for not pressing Trump hard enough. Stelter said that “we have to address” Trump’s misinformation “head-on as journalists."

    Trump has benefited from countless softball interviews. For example, on Fox News’ Fox & Friends, the hosts asked Trump questions such as “Were you right?” following the Brussels terrorist attack. In addition, Fox anchor Megyn Kelly came under fire for her “fluff” interview with Trump on her Fox Broadcasting special, Megyn Kelly Presents. A May 22 panel on CNN’s Reliable Sources criticized her “softball” interview, repeatedly noting that “she didn’t press him” on a number of issues. Many of her questions directly echoed queries that her colleagues at Fox had asked Trump over the past year.

    In The Washington Post’s The Fix blog, politics and media reporter Callum Borchers highlighted Cuomo’s critique of the way Trump is interviewed and asserted that journalists play an additional role in vetting Donald Trump: “counselors.” Borchers noted that “interviewers do Trump’s job for him -- suggesting what he must have really meant, instead of asking wide-open questions.” After an analysis of Trump’s interviews on controversial subjects, Borchers said, “Cuomo has a point. Whether they mean to or not, journalists often nudge the billionaire toward safer ground when he ventures down what looks like a politically dangerous path.” From the May 23 article (emphasis original):

    It's the media's job to vet presidential candidates, so journalists often serve as critics, pointing out inconsistencies and potential weaknesses voters should know about.

    But with Donald Trump, they also play another role, according to CNN's Chris Cuomo: counselors.

    Discussing media coverage on Trump with former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer on Friday, the "New Day" co-host observed what he called "the dynamic of kind of counseling [Trump] through interviews." Cuomo offered a generic example of the kinds questions he's talking about: "Like, when you say this, you know, so you mean like you would just kind of do it this way?"

    Cuomo's observation is that his fellow interviewers do Trump's job for him — suggesting what he must have really meant, instead of asking wide-open questions that force the presumptive Republican nominee to clarify all on his own.

    A review of Trump interviews on controversial subjects suggests Cuomo has a point. Whether they mean to or not, journalists often nudge the billionaire toward safer ground when he ventures down what looks like a politically dangerous path.

    Trump, of course, doesn't always take the hint or doesn't care. And it's possible — or perhaps even likely — that reporters aren't so much trying to protect him as simply reacting with disbelief to the often-unprecedented and surprising things he's saying.

    Whatever the cause, the result is that questions to Trump often come with the "right" answer built in. And this habit of throwing him a line could help explain why some voters believe the media have been too soft on the real estate magnate.

    [...]

    The challenge for journalists is to suppress their shock and let Trump speak for himself. Are you endorsing internment camps? Was the Heidi Cruz retweet a mistake? Do you want the KKK's support?

  • How Megyn Kelly’s Softball Interview With Trump Signaled Fox News’ Complete Surrender

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Fox News’ combustible feud with Donald Trump began with a bang last August when Megyn Kelly pressed the candidate on his ugly history of misogynistic language. The hostilities ended with a whimper though, when Kelly last week obediently walked Trump through the now-infamous softball (or “airball”) interview as part of her first Fox Broadcast special.

    Media observers have been lining up to describe just how awful and boring and disappointing Kelly’s sit-down with Trump was, especially after she had made the media rounds promoting herself as a strong, independent journalist who wasn’t going to be intimidated by Trump.

    Instead, she practically bowed in Trump’s presence and produced the kind of “journalism” that Fox News is famous for -- The New Yorker called the interview “a useless exercise, except, perhaps, for those watching from one group: Republicans looking for a script for how to surrender to Donald Trump.”

    Professionally, Kelly’s wilting performance may have set back her dream of becoming the next Oprah or Barbara Walters; of breaking out of the Fox News conservative media word and establishing herself as a TV brand that can appeal to huge swaths of viewers. And maybe bank $20 million annually.

    Based on how the special flopped, she may not have that appeal. Ratings for Kelly’s first primetime television special were meh: she drew approximately five million viewers. The only real buzz the show created was the public mocking of Kelly’s inept interviewing style. (“A carefully modulated kindergarten-teacher demeanor.”)

    While Kelly huddles with her manager and agent and tries to figure out what went wrong after a long-running media love fest, the larger story that’s come into focus is how Fox News, led by Kelly’s genuflection to Trump, has signaled its institutional surrender to the presumptive GOP nominee. Fox News has been bullied and beaten into submission by a Republican front-runner who had the audacity to pick a fight with Roger Ailes and the mass media mouthpiece of the Republican Party.

    Sure, holdouts like Charles KrauthammerStephen Hayes and Greg Gutfeld remain staples on the Fox News lineup; holdouts who have dismissed Trump as a conservative joke for months. But their numbers, and certainly their sway, seem to be shrinking as the cable channel clumsily and belatedly maneuvers itself into its traditional campaign role: a cheerleader for, and ferocious defender of, the RNC.

    Like much of the Republican Party, as well as large portions of the conservative movement, Fox News is fumbling its way onto the “acceptance” mark as it comes to the final stages of its weird grieving process over the Trump nomination. Eight in 10 Republican voters now want party leaders to rally behind Trump, according to the latest New York Times/CBS poll.

    On paper, Trump and Fox seem like a perfect fit since both celebrate bigotry and embrace a kind of divisiveness-on-steroids approach to attack politics. But Fox isn’t used to being pushed around by politicians, let alone by the presumptive Republican Party nominee.

    And the conservative in-fighting led to major branding woes for Fox News:

    By mid February, [Fox’s] perception by Republican adults 18 and over had reached its lowest point in more than three years, and has declined by approximately 50% since January of this year. Coinciding with Trump’s rise to front-runner in the GOP presidential race, Fox News Channel has seen its perception by Republicans slide.

    Today we look at the capitulation landscape and think, well of course Fox News was going to surrender to Trump, right? Fox always backs the GOP front-runner. That logic makes sense today. But how quickly we forget the unprecedented brawl that played out for the last nine months, as Fox routinely found itself stumbling and bumbling; one moment supporting Trump and the next moment angrily lashing out at him.

    Here’s a stroll down the civil war memory lane. We may never see anything quite like it again in conservative politics: 

    2015:

    Rupert Murdoch reportedly orders Kelly to attack Trump at first GOP debate.

    Trump tweet-storms Kelly following the debate.

    Trump and Ailes reportedly smooth over their differences during private conversation.

    Trump launches a personal boycott Fox News.

    Trump drops his boycott.

    Trump spends New Year's Eve palling around with Fox News.

    2016:

    Trump threatens to be a no-show for a Fox News GOP debate.

    Fox releases a scathing statement about Trump skipping the debate.

    Trump calls Kelly “crazy” and “unwatchable.”

    During a post-debate interview, Trump suggests Bill O’Reilly go see a psychiatrist.

    Fox denounces Trump’s “sick obsession” with Kelly.

    Trump calls Kelly an "overrated anchor."

    Kelly meets in private with Trump to request an interview; asks him to stop insulting her.

    Fox airs Kelly’s puff piece interview with Trump. 

    And scene.

    We’re done here folks. Pack up your spectacles because the show is over. All’s that left on stage now are Ailes and Kelly, searching for their pride.

  • Laverne Cox Has A Lot To Say About Anti-Trans Legislation But It Was Cut From Megyn Kelly’s Interview

    ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    Transgender actress Laverne Cox indicated that her May 17 interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly omitted a discussion of anti-trans legislation -- specifically North Carolina’s HB 2, a law that prohibits people from using certain bathrooms that don’t correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificate. Cox has been outspoken in her opposition to laws like North Carolina’s. 

  • VIDEO: Megyn Kelly Repackaged A Year’s Worth Of Fox Interview Questions To Trump

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY, COLEMAN LOWNDES & JOHN KERR

    Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s widely panned interview with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump failed to bolster her carefully crafted image as a hard-hitting journalist. Indeed, Kelly recycled a series of softball questions her fellow Fox personalities have previously asked Trump.

    Kelly’s May 17 interview was promoted as an exclusive, hard-hitting exchange and reconciliation between the presumptive nominee and Fox’s primetime anchor after the months-long public feud between Trump and the network over Kelly’s questioning of the candidate. Kelly herself said her goal for the interview was an “interesting, compelling exchange.”

    But the interview not only featured a series of fuzzy, softball questions -- “Has anyone ever hurt you emotionally?,” “Are you going to stop [combatively tweeting] as president?” -- it also mirrored the way other Fox News hosts have engaged with Trump on air, shattering the illusion that Kelly is somehow different than her colleagues. A series of questions that Kelly tossed to Trump last night sounded conspicuously familiar, and for a good reason: they echoed questions that her colleagues have asked the presumptive GOP nominee over the past year.

    Take Bill O’Reilly back in March, asking Trump:

    BILL O’REILLY: Donald Trump now is not speaking as the Art of the Deal guy or The Apprentice guy. You’re not speaking anymore on that level. Now you are speaking for the United States. You may be president. I mean, so your rhetoric means so much more than it used to mean. You know, you’re in a different place. A place you have never been in. I'm just wondering how much you’ve thought about all that.

    And compare with Megyn Kelly last night:

    MEGYN KELLY: You're no longer just Donald Trump, businessman, or Donald Trump, host of Celebrity Apprentice. Now you're steps away from the presidency. Have you given any thought, in this position, to the power that your messaging has on the lives of the people you target and on the millions of people who take their cue from you?

    Megyn Kelly has spent years cultivating a reputation as an unbiased journalist, which has been boosted by a number of laudatory profiles that have largely ignored that her show “is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows at any other time" and that “her talent for fearmongering may be even more insidious than Trump's own.” 

  • As Print Critics Savage Kelly’s Trump Interview, Networks Cover For Her

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Cable and broadcast networks are reporting that Fox host Megyn Kelly’s interview with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump made him look look “restrained” and “softer,” but they are playing down the role Kelly played in that depiction.

    Print and online media critics have been submitting withering critiques of Kelly’s heavily touted sit-down. For New York Times TV critic James Poniewozick, Kelly’s questions were so nonsubstantive that they don’t even deserve to be described as softballs. Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara wrote that Kelly failed to “hold his question-dodging feet to some sort of fire,” instead preferring to have him “costar in an hourlong infomercial for her new book.” The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik wrote that Kelly “provided Trump a kind of sanction with some women that he could never buy” and added, “I’m surprised they didn’t exchange air kisses.” The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple homed in on the “scandalous” way that Kelly “withheld details of her ordeal” with Trump “in a performance that assisted Trump with his general-election pivot” in order to boost sales of her forthcoming book. The list goes on and on.

    But similar criticisms of Kelly’s journalism were absent from the coverage of the interview on the broadcast and cable news morning shows. Instead, NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, and CBS This Morning highlighted Trump’s effort to show a “softer side” during the interview, but made no mention of how Kelly helped him in that effort. CNN’s New Day completely ignored the interview, with the network’s media commentators instead appearing for a segment about Trump’s attacks on The New York Times.

    It’s possible that one reason the networks are loathe to go after Kelly’s performance is that they are looking to hire her. Her contract with Fox News is up for renewal next year, she has openly said she will consider other offers, and news reports suggest that several networks will try to lure her away.

    It would be awkward for executives to pitch Kelly on a move to their networks after their on-air talent ripped apart her effort to broaden her brand -- and even more awkward for that on-air talent to run into Kelly in the newsroom.

  • Washington Post’s Erik Wemple Slams Megyn Kelly’s “Unfortunate” And “Scandalous” Trump Interview

    Wemple: Kelly “Withheld Details Of Her Ordeal In A Performance That Assisted Trump With His General-Election Pivot”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple highlighted the “downright scandalous” nature of Megyn Kelly’s highly anticipated interview with Trump, noting that she held back details from her highly publicized spat with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in an effort to push her upcoming book – which will be available only after the general election in November.

    Kelly’s May 17 debut of Megyn Kelly Presents on the Fox Broadcasting Network was widely criticized for the lack of substance and the softball questions she lobbed at Trump. During the special, Kelly promoted her new book Settle For More, which she claimed will have more details about her experience with Trump.

    After the interview, Wemple wrote that Kelly is entitled to deal with “Trump’s Twitter offensive” on her own schedule, “unless that schedule…is dictated by a book launch.” Wemple went on to describe her decision to withhold details as “unfortunate” and “scandalous” and to point out that the publishing company that gave her a multimillion-dollar contract, which is part of Fox News’ parent company, News Corp, “appear poised to postpone the whole Kelly-Trump story until after the election.”

    What was missing from this interview was Kelly getting personal about what Trump had done to her. She came close with this question: “Have you given any thought in this position to the power that your messaging has on the lives of the people you target and the millions of people who take their cue from you?” Trump responded that he was indeed cognizant of his power.

    Deference is generally appropriate in these situations — Kelly’s ordeal at the hands of Trump’s Twitter offensive is still pretty fresh, so she’s entitled to deal with it on her own schedule. Unless that schedule…is dictated by a book launch. At the end of “Megyn Kelly Presents,” the host said this: “In addition to the ‘Kelly File,’ I’ve been working on a project: A book which I’m unveiling right now. It’s called ‘Settle for More,'” said Kelly. In the book, continued Kelly, “For the first time, I’ll speak openly about my year with Donald Trump. You can pre-order it now wherever books are sold.”

    No problem, right? If the book comes out in a couple of months, readers can get the full story detailing the impact of Trump’s sexism on the life of one of American journalism’s biggest names. They can then use the information to assist them at the voting booth! Oh, wait: The election is Nov. 8, and the publication date is Nov. 15.

    It’s unfortunate enough that Kelly apparently withheld details of her ordeal in a performance that assisted Trump with his general-election pivot. It’s downright scandalous that Kelly, Fox News and the publishing company that gave her the multimillion dollar contract — HarperCollins, a unit of News Corp., part of the Fox News extended corporate family — appear poised to postpone the whole Kelly-Trump story until after the election.

  • The Megyn Kelly Con Should End With Trump’s Softball Interview

    The Interview Was Complete Garbage -- And Trump Loved It

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    For years, reporters have granted Fox News host Megyn Kelly glowing coverage praising her for providing dogged interviews and tough journalism. Tonight’s heavily-touted primetime sit-down with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump should end that con.

    Donald Trump was never remotely fazed by the Fox host during their session, batting down her softball questions with aplomb. While Trump introduced the interview by saying that nothing was “off the table,” Trump’s history of violent and incendiary rhetoric, his rapidly-shifting and extreme policy positions, and his numerous lies were all either mentioned in passing or ignored altogether.

    Instead, Kelly devoted significant time with the man who may be the next leader of the free world discussing whether he had ever been bullied and if he had learned anything from his divorces. Trump's favorite movie and book and whether he had really boycotted her show all came up.

    Kelly framed the interview around Trump’s vicious, sexist, months-long campaign of attacks on her, asking him several questions about their feud. But even with those queries she largely provided him a platform to explain away his actions. They even laughed together about his tweeting technique.

    Megyn Kelly made Donald Trump look downright presidential, and he appreciated it. As the interview aired, he retweeted his followers praising their discussion ("best interview I have ever seen") and even denied that the questions had been soft.

    In short, it was an interview Sean Hannity could love.

    But Megyn Kelly is supposed to be more than Sean Hannity. While he is widely recognized as a GOP shill and conservative mouthpiece, she has sought to carve out a reputation as a real journalist with a "reputation for asking tough questions to anyone,” as one of the spate of laudatory profiles she has received over the past few years put it. A handful of video clips where Kelly actually challenged her network’s conservative narratives were regularly cited as the norm, with profilers largely ignoring her record of promoting misinformation and race-baiting.

    It has been a brilliantly-executed PR strategy. And the Trump interview exposes it as a lie.

    After Kelly asked Trump a tough question about his history of misogyny during Fox’s August GOP debate, he lashed out at her with a series of brutal, sexist attacks. Media observers rushed to Kelly’s defense, rightfully castigating Trump for his actions, but also praising Kelly as a tough journalist. A pause in hostilities led to the scheduling of Kelly’s interview, with many suggesting that Kelly would offer up a serious challenge for the GOP nominee.

    But Kelly herself tamped down those expectations, saying after she taped the interview that she doesn’t “feel any need to go in there and try to take down Trump” and calling her goal “to have an interesting, compelling exchange with him.” At the same time, Fox News has largely gotten behind the nominee, with New York magazine’s Gabe Sherman reporting today that Rupert Murdoch, executive co-chairman of Fox News' parent company, “has signaled he plans to fully back Trump in the general election against Hillary Clinton.” According to Sherman’s reporting, “the message from Roger Ailes's executives is they need to go easy on Trump.”

    Tonight’s interview certainly shows that Megyn Kelly got those marching orders.

    At least she got to plug her new book. She'll reveal the details of her experience being attacked by Trump -- after the election is over.

  • Don’t Be Fooled By Megyn Kelly’s Laverne Cox Interview

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    Megyn Kelly’s upcoming interview with Laverne Cox will likely be touted as evidence of Kelly’s ability to buck her network’s conservative slant, especially when it comes to transgender issues. But beyond her Cox interview, Kelly has spouted anti-trans rhetoric and used her show to repeatedly elevate hate group leader Tony Perkins, one of the most extreme anti-LGBT voices in the country, lending him mainstream credibility even as he peddles harmful smears against LGBT people.

    Megyn Kelly is scheduled to sit down with transgender actress Laverne Cox during a Fox TV special on May 17. Kelly’s interview with a prominent transgender celebrity will likely be hailed as evidence that Kelly is a fair-minded journalist willing to break rank with her network, especially on LGBT issues. But Kelly has a long history of anti-LGBT bias that's evident in her body of work.

    Kelly has employed anti-trans rhetoric herself on more than one occasion. During a January 2013 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, Kelly and Bill O’Reilly criticized the appearance of Michelle Kosilek, a transgender woman serving time in an all-male prison, joking that she isn’t attractive enough to be in danger of sexual assault, and repeatedly misgendering her. Kelly went on to say, “The surgery hasn’t been performed yet. … He only has breasts and the hair now.” Kelly also repeatedly suggested that taxpayers shouldn’t be required to cover the costs of the inmate’s “elective surgery” during an April 2013 edition of America Live, and she mocked the suggestion that the inmate should be housed with other female inmates, lamenting that she would get “a get-out-of-male-prison-free card.”

    Kelly routinely hosts hate group leader Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), to speak as a “captain of the religious right.” FRC was labeled an anti-LGBT “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010. Most recently, Perkins referred to transgender rights as “a godless system that the president is promoting.” Perkins called videos from the It Gets Better Project, an LGBT youth suicide prevention group, “disgusting” and said the organization recruited kids to come out as “homosexual (or transgendered or some other perversion).” Kelly has described FRC as “a group whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and culture from a Christian worldview.” Kelly has also peddled Perkins’ talking points that “Christian beliefs and Christian rights” are being trampled as LGBT rights increase, lamenting that it must be “alienating” for him to be criticized for his anti-LGBT beliefs, and accusing those in favor of LGBT equality of being intolerant.

    Kelly hosted Perkins along with GLAAD’s Jeremy Hooper to discuss a star of the Duck Dynasty TV show who called homosexuality illogical and compared it to bestiality. Hooper asked Kelly to hold Perkins accountable for his anti-LGBT extremism and she said, “What specifically? Because I’ll ask him.” But Kelly immediately went back on her word and never asked Perkins to explain his history of vile rhetoric. Kelly hosts other extreme anti-LGBT groups, such as Alliance Defending Freedom, and she defends people who make anti-LGBT comments, such as Ben Carson, who compared “gays” to pedophiles and those who engage in bestiality.

    Despite recent attempts to spin Kelly’s legacy, it’s important for the media and everyone else to remember that Kelly has engaged in questionable journalistic practices. Rather than lauding Kelly in a vacuum, the media should remember to contextualize this interview within Kelly’s larger body of work.

     
  • The Charade Behind Megyn Kelly's Trump Interview

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

    Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s upcoming interview with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will undoubtedly be used by the Fox PR machine to capitalize on Kelly’s charade as an unbiased, hardball-throwing journalist. But, it should be used instead as an opportunity for media to put their misplaced praise of Kelly into context with the rest of her career, including her history of using her Fox platform to promote egregious right-wing misinformation.

    Kelly’s interview with Trump will air during a Fox TV special on May 17, and follows a private meeting that took place between the two at Trump Tower in April. Fox has hyped that the interview will cover Kelly and Trump’s months-long feud that was kicked off when Trump attacked Kelly as a “lightweight journalist,” and culminated in Trump’s refusal to attend an ultimately-canceled Fox News presidential debate. Kelly has said the goal of the interview is an “interesting, compelling exchange,” asserting “I don’t feel any need to go in there and try to take down Trump.”

    Fox has already capitalized on the feud, parlaying it into high-profile interviews of Kelly on late night talk shows and morning news shows, as well as a series of laudatory profiles that applaud her as an "independent" "rising star" with a "reputation for asking tough questions to anyone.” Tuesday’s interview will likely prove just as useful for Fox, delivering high ratings and buzz to the network, giving Kelly’s tough journalist charade another platform, and undoubtedly delivering the latest round of misplaced praise for her performance.

    But this interview is an opportunity for media to put the full context of Kelly’s career on display as their recent series of laudatory profiles has failed to do. Kelly has a long history of misinformation campaigns and out-of-touch comments regarding race, LGBT issues, gender, reproductive rights, Islam, immigration, and climate change.

    She's used her prime-time Fox show to push falsehoods about the 2012 Benghazi attacks and Planned Parenthood, most recently asking whether a "political hit job" was at play in the grand jury indictment of two members of the group that released deceptively edited smear videos to attack the organization.

    She regularly hosts Tony Perkins, the leader of an anti-LGBT hate group, and has shown a penchant for inflammatory rhetoric on race, ranging from claiming a 14-year-old black teenager who was the victim of a police officer's use of excessive force “was no saint, either” to calling Black Lives Matter protesters "beyond the bounds of decency."

    As positive press highlights Kelly's "occasionally, yet highly entertaining, bucking of the conservative party line," they downplay the fact that her show "is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows." Even the writer of Vanity Fair's glowing cover story, after making those observations, eventually noted that Kelly's "talent for fearmongering may be even more insidious than Trump's own. She, after all, is considered by many to be the reasonable one at Fox."

    Image by Sarah Wasko