Megyn. Santa. Jesus.

December 18, 2013
Photo by Jesse Dittmar for The Washington Post
Photo by Jesse Dittmar for The Washington Post

There has been a range of prickly reaction to my Megyn Kelly profile, which was published last Wednesday night at the exact same time she was broadcasting that problematic segment on Santa, wherein she assured her underage viewers (whuh?) that the fat man is white, despite what Slate blogger Aisha Harris wrote in her essay “Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore.” The segment made Kelly the butt of jokes, and I wrote the next morning about her thoughts on “naysayers” and being called a racist. Then on Friday she answered her critics on the air by accusing them of humorlessness, which triggered another round of mockery (The New Yorker, etc.) that has extended into this week (“The Daily Show,” etc.).

Seems to me that both Harris and Kelly were attempting cheekiness (Santa as a penguin? Children watching “The Kelly File”?), but what do I know. Regardless, many people read or skimmed my profile while thinking about the notion of white Santa, or white Jesus. Gawker and NewsBusters assessed my piece — the latter called the profile “positive” and me “smitten,” the former suggested I’m party to Fox News’s campaign to cast Kelly as a straight-news anchor — which means that I’ve received e-mails over the past week from people who know more than I do, about everything, especially Megyn Kelly. Here are two such e-mails that represent the spectrum:

Get a life!! You can’t stand it that there are actually smart and attractive women out there who don’t agree with your liberal agenda.

And:

I didn’t think those right-wing celebrity puff pieces in the Style section could get any more nauseating until I read your little pile of cat sick this morning.

“Cat sick” is a terrific jab, and I’ve incorporated it into my own quiver of insults, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice. Despite its use of the word “praise,” which I think is inexact, the most substantive criticism I received via e-mail was this:

I do think that some of the methods you used in the article were too clever by half. … positive elements of Megyn Kelly were portrayed with explicit and succinct statements of praise (“telling”), whereas negative elements were portrayed indirectly (“showing”).

But my favorite critical e-mail said much more in fewer words:

I guess if 2.5 million watch her, 317.5 million don’t, right?

So true. And yet how many more viewers has this protracted Santa episode delivered to her? How many of her faithful are now even fonder and more defensive of her? We’ll see. In the meantime, I refer you back to the essence of my story: She’s smart, she’s easy to like and she knows what she’s doing.

Dan Zak is a feature writer and general assignment reporter based in the Style section. He joined the Post in 2005, after stints as an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a city-desk reporter and obituary writer at The Buffalo News.
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Dan Zak | December 17, 2013