Journalist Megyn Kelly packed her bags and stormed out of the Fox News house today, en route to new suitor NBC. The divorce is final. Though there was no formal separation, the often manic and bizarre behavior of the media star convinced many that something was amiss in the Fox news family. Kelly frequently sparred with competing host and cable news’s top-rated Bill O’Reilly while battling with ratings rival Sean Hannity in what resembled a good old Irish feud. Despite attempts at reconciliation, financial inducements and desperate flattery, Kelly and Fox are phhht and the rapid-fire reporter is moving to the more liberal and greener (in more ways than one) pastures of NBC, where she will presumably find true broadcast contentment.
There were two overused words in the election year of 2016. The first was “pivot,” a verb previously reserved to describe the flexibility of a basketball player but completely abused and quickly turned into a tired cliché by reams of journalists who used it in reference to Donald Trump’s anticipated policy shifts – ones that never materialized, at least during either the primary or general election campaigns. The second oft-repeated election utterance was not so much a word as a proper noun: Megyn Kelly.
The narcissistic Kelly inserted herself into virtually every story she so much as brushed against. Of course there was the confrontation with Trump during the primaries where she played the feminist victim card so deftly and effortlessly, accusing Trump of gross misogyny and successfully baiting the willing candidate in the process. When she had squeezed maximum strength exposure from that episode, she decided there was publicity to be gained from making up with bullyboy Trump – especially after he had won the Republican nomination. Kelly’s exclusive interview with the presidential nominee was difficult to watch for anyone lacking a strong stomach as Kelly fell all over herself in a tragic-comic attempt to disclose her hitherto concealed admiration for Trump.
The bloom from that infatuation faded quickly and Kelly was soon expressing shock and outrage over Trump’s sexist language while her legions of social media enemies unearthed a raft of titillating photos, apparently of Kelly modeling some hot lingerie numbers. Of course, these pics were all about empowering women and had nothing at all to do with applying a hypocritical double-standard to sexual imagery: empowering when utilized by women, sexist when viewed by men.
Late in the election campaign, Kelly’s renewed animus towards Trump led to a now infamous on-air rumble with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was clearly tired of hearing Trump being dissed as a sexual predator. Gingrich faced down Kelly and essentially told her to stop start acting like a journalist and not a celebrity gossip who insisted upon being part of every story. The result was a Twitter storm that continued throughout the night and into the next day as Kelly’s army of detractors begged the network to fire the smart-mouthed anchor.
Meanwhile, Fox couldn’t do enough for their star host, who, according to some reports, represented the future of a new and improved news format that was more moderate, more understanding and more of Megyn Kelly. Kelly couldn’t show viewers enough of herself, presenting back-stage glimpses of the star preparing for the show and promoting her contrived book, entitled “Settle for More.”
Kelly was always prepared to settle for more and even though Fox was apparently willing to go the full financial distance, more was not enough. Even when the mischievous news host leaked a portion of her book — just a day before its release – that suggested Trump had tried to influence journalists – including her – with favors, Fox executives kept the pasted smile firmly in place.
So now she’s off to NBC – the network that media pioneer David Sarnoff created almost a century ago but that today is aptly described as a paid-up member of the liberal mainstream media club. I haven’t paid too much attention to NBC since the first “Get Smart” re-runs aired.
I’m sure the Fox execs are heart-broken over Kelly’s sudden departure after so many sincere attempts to rectify the fissures in their relationship.
Fox viewers will largely avoid any tears, waving an enthusiastic goodbye while yelling good riddance.
Time to retire the #FireMegynKelly hashtag. She’s done the next best thing.
Follow David on Twitter @DavidKrayden