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.