The last time Megyn Kelly got this much attention was August 2015, when Donald Trump hit her with a misogynist rant after the presidential debate, saying, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Then, as her contract with Fox News was winding down, the Roger Ailes situation got sticky and, within months, she had bailed on the network that had propelled her to superstar status.
Kelly promptly engaged in some terrifically creative image-management. She pitched herself to the world as an “independent voice,” a woman who bravely raises her chin to ask “hard questions” of “both sides.” An autobiography, Settle for More, was part of the repackaging. In a last-minute addition to the book, she shared the details of how she too had been targeted for sexual harassment by Roger Ailes. She landed on her feet, as a heroine does, with a top spot on NBC News.
For a moment there, Megyn Kelly was everything a lot of Americans wanted their daughters to be: a doughty female staking her claim in a testosterone-filled world.
After her first appearance on NBC, an interview with Vladimir Putin, she announced she would be interviewing Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and Sandy Hook denier whose accomplishments include, among other things, pushing the lie that a DC pizza restaurant was a cover for a child sex ring. Alex Jones’s lies are so depraved they do not merit the energy required to refute them.
The blowback against Kelly, and NBC News, was immediate. Multiple advertisers, including JPMorgan Chase, withdrew from the show, and Kelly was dropped as a host for Promise Champions Gala, an annual event for the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, a nonprofit gun-violence-prevention group founded by family members of some of the victims of Sandy Hook shootings. Kelly responded that that she wished to “shine a light—as journalists are supposed to do—on this influential figure.”
But on Friday morning, Alex Jones released a secret recording of his pregame conversation with Kelly in which she told him he is a “fascinating” individual, that she had no intention of conducting a “gotcha” interview or portraying him as a “some boogeyman,” and that “my goal is for your listeners, and the left…to say, wow, that was really interesting.” So the only “light” that our independent journalist seems interested in shining is the one that will draw the most attention—and ratings—and if that means upgrading a loathsome conspiracy theorist to the dignity of a national figure, so be it.