Megyn Kelly is on a roll. Earlier this week, the Fox News anchor sat down with Jay Leno, telling him that “Straight-news anchors like myself give a hard time to both sides.” And today Dan Zak of The Washington Post, in a long profile of Kelly, claims that she “interrupts and challenges guests whenever they resort to talking points or petty distractions.” The point of this campaign, one finely engineered by Fox News’ meticulous press shop, is to paint Kelly as a serious person and a straightforward reporter. The problem is that Kelly is neither.
Kelly is, in her employer’s parlance, a race hustler. Throughout the first half of the Obama administration, Kelly was all over the utterly false story that a rogue group of black supremacists called the New Black Panther Party were trying to scare off white people from voting. In the first two weeks of coverage, Kelly anchored 45 different segments about the New Black Panthers. (Glenn Beck, by contrast, devoted merely 15 segments to the story.) When it turned out the charges against the Panthers were baseless, Kelly spent less than two minutes addressing the news.
But old habits die hard, and Kelly continued to host the New Black Panthers “whistleblower,” J. Christian Adams, giving him a free platform to push whichever secret Obama conspiracy he can convince Kelly is so groundbreaking, so scandalous, that the rest of the media is conspiring to suppress it. As recently as December 7 of this year, Adams went on Kelly’s show to report that the Obama administration was poaching lawyers from “radical open-borders organizations.” Kelly, of course, described Adams as a “well-known Washington whistleblower.”
Kelly’s alleged tough-as-nails interviewing style—Zak describes her as “always the smartest, always in charge, but in a way that’s ultimately endearing”—doesn’t apply here. Take her interview, in late October, with Rudy Giuliani. After the former mayor of New York claimed that black people should be thankful for the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy, under which black people are systemically targeted for harassment, Kelly simply moved on to the next segment.
Just this morning Kelly claimed that Jesus Christ and Santa Claus—the first a Semite born in Judea, the second a mythical figure with a flying sled—are both white. Her point was: Santa shouldn’t be black. This and the rest, according to Kelly and the Washington Post, is “straight news.”
In a coda inspired by Kelly’s Jesus-was-white argument, Zak admitted regret for not asking Kelly about a November 21 segment where Kelly suggested that, because Oprah won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, we can safely ignore the historical legacy of racism. (“Let’s put aside the thorny topic of Jesus Christ's ethnicity, the absurdity of debating Santa Claus on primetime, and the ridicule and allegations that such a segment invites upon a TV host.”) The writer also reproduced Kelly’s answer—not included in the original profile, I wonder why!—to a question about her New Black Panthers coverage.
“In my experience,” she told Zak, “the people who believe all the negative things about you want to believe them.”
And the people who don’t believe—despite the negative things that are written—are fans of yours, people who watch and get you, and they’re not going to believe that stuff no matter what. Earlier on in my career, when I covered the New Black Panther case, some of our critics were saying I was racist covering them. And that really bothered me. That was the first time anyone had said I was a racist. And it was because I was covering this story. It was like, ‘But I’m just covering a story and it happens that people at the heart of the case are black.’
This might be true if, say, Kelly mentioned the voter intimidation allegations on two or three reports. But her New Black Panther Party coverage, to which she has devoted several hours of coverage, was much less “reporting” than it was a political campaign designed to stoke white peoples’ fears of black men. After all, black-on-white crime, regardless of veracity, is ratings gold.
Kelly knows exactly what she’s doing. And as her new slot shows, her boss Roger Ailes is very pleased.
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[Photo credit: Associated Press]