Vanity Fair's new profile of Fox News host Megyn Kelly is the latest in a series of laudatory profiles that extol Kelly as the “brightest star at Fox News” while underplaying her bigotry and right-wing chicanery. However, buried in the article is the fact that her show, The Kelly File, is little more than a shill for conservative misinformation not unlike her primetime cohorts on the network.
Evgenia Peretz lionized Megyn Kelly in the glowing January 4 profile, calling her a “feminist icon of sorts,” and suggesting her “star power” is similar to that of Julia Roberts. (Peretz even highlighted Kelly's husband comparing her to “Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey,” and “Grace Kelly”).
But buried amid the praise, Peretz admitted exactly what makes Megyn Kelly so dangerous: though Kelly bills her show “as a 'news' show as opposed to an opinion show, like Hannity or The O'Reilly Factor, [it] is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows at any other time.” In other words, beneath Kelly's veneer of credibility lies the same partisan misinformation typical of the network:
The Kelly File, which Kelly bills as a “news” show as opposed to an opinion show, like Hannity or The O'Reilly Factor, is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows at any other time. Some recurring themes are political correctness run amok, the left-wing slant of the mainstream media, and the question of Hillary Clinton's trustworthiness. (Hint: “She's lying! She's absolutely lying!,” says the mother of one of the Benghazi victims in a teaser.) Not so infrequently, the right-of-center axis roams into Hannity territory, like a recurring bit on “Ahmed, the clock boy,” who was mistakenly arrested after school officials thought he might be building a bomb--and then got invited to the White House. Not only was the clock really lame, The Kelly File told us, “just wait until you see what we found on his father's Facebook page.” (Supposedly it called 9/11 an American hoax to encourage a war against Islam.) A go-to guest on the subject of race and law enforcement is Mark Fuhrman, the disgraced race-baiting policeman from the O. J. Simpson trial.
Even more alarming is the fact that prominent journalists not only praise Kelly, but also treat her as a credible reporter. Peretz noted praise for Kelly from "[v]eteran newswoman Katie Couric," former primetime host for CNN Campbell Brown, and former chief White House correspondent for CNN, Jessica Yellin, all applauding Kelly's “uncanny charm” and “dogged interviewing skills.”
Extolling Kelly for her ability to “Unnerv[e] would-be leaders, blowhards, and didacts from both parties,” Peretz pointed to a few of Kelly's famous deviations from the typical Fox rhetoric -- so-called “Megyn moments” that call out a bit of right-wing nonsense -- including her 2016 Republican presidential primary debate takedown of Donald Trump's sexism, her 2012 election night dismantling of Karl Rove as he sputtered objections to Fox News calling Ohio for President Obama, and most infamously, her rebukes of Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs for their antiquated views of women in the workplace.
However, as Media Matters pointed out when her show was announced in 2013, for each of Kelly's “Megyn moments” there is an example of Kelly wielding her journalistic authority to prop up conservative misinformation as “news”:
Megyn Kelly, is a much more pernicious purveyor of political propaganda. Kelly has the unique ability to pluck misinformation and imbue it with a veneer of legitimacy that Sean Hannity has long since lost, if he ever had it at all. She can have a great moment chiding Fox colleagues Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs for sexism, only to turn around and push the New Black Panthers scandal as something serious. Megyn Kelly can cover gay rights in a way that is occasionally not abominable, and then push Benghazi falsehoods that have long been debunked. Megyn Kelly will rebuke Dick Morris and Karl Rove, but then hosts a climate change denier during the president's climate address. Kelly smacked down Mike Gallagher on family leave, but she also defended Newt Gingrich's bizarre suggestion that schools should use children as janitors. The examples go on and on -- but the key for Fox is that her positive moments always get more press than her more dishonest moments.
And thanks in part to Vanity Fair's latest profile, it appears they will continue to do so.