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