In an eye-opening interview, Megyn Kelly acknowledges that she’s not sure she wants to continue at Fox News once her contract is up. She also all but comes right out and says she’d love to stop covering politics.
In an interview with Variety, Kelly dropped several hints about her unhappiness. After revealing that she has not decided whether or not to stay at Fox after her contract is up next year, Kelly said the following (my emphases):
KELLY: Never say never. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve had a great 12 years here, and I really like working for Roger Ailes. I really like my show, and I love my team. But you know, there’s a lot of brain damage that comes from the job. There was probably less brain damage when I worked in the afternoon. I was less well known. I had far less conflict in my life. I also have three kids who are soon going to be school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. I come to work at 3:30. I like to see my children. Having said that, my boss has been good about working with me to make me happy–he knows I’m a hard worker. I’ve had few problems here where I couldn’t talk to him and say, “Can we work something out?,” and come away happy.
…I don’t really get surprised with politics. I think it’s sad. I feel sad because I’m raising three young children. I don’t want them to see it. I’m glad they are young. I’m glad they don’t fully appreciate what’s going on. I wish we were doing better as a culture. I don’t know how I can help that. I don’t mean as a journalist; I mean as a human being.
In a video that went with the interview, Kelly even more explicitly expressed her dissatisfaction with politics and its “divisiveness.”
KELLY: I get it. I know It’s a rough business, trust me. But I never thought that I would wind up in a job that was all politics and that’s a lot of what cable news does and it’s certainly what we do right now when we’re in election season. And while it serves a great service, don’t get me wrong, it can be uncomfortable, it can be hostile, it can appeal to, you know, our worst demons, as opposed to our best angels.
Of course, there was talk about Donald Trump and the effects of his attacks on her:
KELLY: It has not been enjoyable. I wish it hadn’t happened. I hope it will stop — his focus on me. If he’s determined not to stop, there’s nothing I can do. I don’t like being the story. I think it raises real First Amendment issues. I’ve seen what’s happened with Michelle Fields [the former Breitbart News reporter allegedly grabbed by Trump’s campaign manager] and in my own world, there’s another side to this behavior. It poses real risks to the person under attack.
I feel for Kelly. Nobody deserves the kind of bullying that Trump has unleashed on her. Furthermore, it must be difficult working with so many people who don’t seem to have her back. Even in this interview, Kelly says that while she has felt “supported by Fox News,” she doesn’t exactly say that they have been helpful.
KELLY: Fox News has been in a tough position. They care about me and they are not afraid of a fight, but we’re in unchartered territory.
…I’ve had many conversations with (CEO Roger Ailes) about the situation. I think it’s been hard on him, too. I don’t think he’s enjoyed one piece of this. He can see what happens in my life when Trump starts off. He really wants him to stop, but on the other hand, he’s not going to run a news channel that doesn’t provide access to the Republican frontrunner for president.
As I wrote in another post on the subject, has Kelly ever thought about the manifestations of hate she has helped gin up against people like Eric Holder or Bill Ayers, with "questions" such as, “You sound like – with respect – Osama bin Laden”?
I’d like to think that Kelly has done some deep soul-searching about her role in what she says she doesn’t like about cable news and politics. Frankly, the signs are that she has. To me, the question of how Kelly has changed or not, in the wake of Trump’s barrage, is the key ingredient here. I’m disappointed that Ramin Setoodeh, Variety’s New York Bureau Chief, didn’t ask it.
Watch the video below and the rest of the Variety interview here.
7/5/19 update: Video no longer available.
FOX news is now the anti-Trump network just as CNN is the elect Hillary network. Both grow old fast. I use to watch nothing but FOX; now I watch very little of the outrageous press.
She will work to position herself to get paid. Didn’t Alies help her secure a book deal or something a month or two ago?
She can only lose IF she doesn’t play!
So put me in the camp that says she is playing with fire here. It may work out to her advantage. But there is always a price to pay for working the corners as she does. Better see the money upfront.
Let THAT dog lie …in the bed it made!
However, I will say this …you get what you give and karma … is a bitch … good riddance!
You can’t hold the most idiotic beliefs in human history and manage to defend them in a worker bee environment without developing strong feelings of society.
But Megyn Kelly may have reached her Ariana Huffington moment. When she has had enough of Al Franken making her look silly.God bless Al Franken.
Like LBJ used to say, “I’d rather make a convert than win an argument.”
I don’t doubt that Kelly has not enjoyed being a target of Trump’s wrath, and I don’t doubt that it has made her uncomfortable at times. On the other hand, Ellen correctly notes that Kelly’s vicious attacks on other people are infamous. I would also include her nonsensical obsession with the allegations about the Black Panthers at the polling station and her outrageous treatment of Kirsten Powers at that time.
If Kelly truly was feeling sadness about the state of politics in our country, and about how Fox News has fostered such meanness and closed-mindedness, we’d see a difference in her coverage. We haven’t. She’s just as calculating now as she was before. She’s certainly not appealing for fairness in treatment of Democrats on her program. I would also argue that she’s had issues with right wing attacks on her before – I remember her going after Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs on the air on one occasion and going after Mike Gallagher on the air on another. But the thing that sent her into orbit wasn’t that what these guys had said was intrinsically or morally wrong – it was because she saw their comments as attacking HER. And in the case of Trump, he’s been absolutely attacking her in the most personal ways possible.
It seems to me that Kelly is less concerned about the state of the country and our culture and more concerned about the fact that Trump is being mean to her and her own colleagues at Fox News aren’t all standing up for her. Ailes has been very careful to do so, but Kelly appears to be angry with O’Reilly’s failure to do so. I’d be curious if we ever see any on-air fall out of that, to be honest.
I also note that as a consequence of Kelly’s anger toward Trump, she’s been more open to showing the actual numbers concerning his campaign. There was an astonishing moment last week where she had Larry Sabato on and proceeded to completely demolish any case for Trump winning a general election against Clinton. (Sabato currently shows Clinton with a 150 Electoral College lead over Trump – which would spell a landslide against him.) Kelly made sure to buttress that case with leading questions to Sabato so they could dismiss the notion that “more Republicans are energized and enthusiastic for Trump than Dems are enthusiastic for Clinton”. (Sabato admitted that Trump’s appeal is mostly limited to angry straight white males, and countered the talking point with the reminder that Trump was also energizing votes AGAINST him by every other voting group.) By the end of Kelly’s segment with Sabato, there didn’t look like even a shred of optimism about the results of a Trump/Clinton matchup.
Past Kelly’s concerns about people being unfriendly to her, it frankly makes sense that she’s looking to have an even cushier position at Fox News with her renegotiation next year. She’s going to tout her numbers and her fame as part of the discussions, essentially telling Ailes he needs to up her deal. I don’t see Ailes giving her O’Reilly’s slot, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her get a significant raise. Not more than O’Reilly, of course, but she may get close. All the rest of the discussion by her with this interview is just to give her cover in the event the discussions don’t give her the deal she wants. I truly feel for her that she wants to spend time with her kids – but let’s be honest – she’s not working a 12 hour day, and even she admits that Ailes has always been more than accommodating to her. The reality is that she’ll always make time for her kids, and she’ll also be getting a better deal from Fox News next year as a result. I honestly don’t see her trying to get an anchor position at CNN, and MSNBC will never take her. No standard network will take her either – the problem with Fox News is that it taints anyone who works there – particularly anyone who has repeatedly demonstrated as much extreme partisanship as she has.