Donald Trump has agreed to an interview with a cable-news host. It’s approximately his 8,000th such appearance since he launched his campaign in June 2015. So why is the Erik Wemple Blog dedicating a blog post to the matter?
The interview is with Megyn Kelly, the Fox News host whose life Trump has pretty much ruined since Aug. 6. That night, Kelly co-hosted a GOP debate and pulverized Trump with a line of questioning about his misogynistic treatment of women. The questions touched off renewed misogyny from Trump, along with follow-the-leader misogyny from the masses on social media. In various interviews over recent months, Kelly has commented about how she can’t look at her mentions on Twitter. “It poses real risks to the person under attack,” said the host in one interview, clearly alluding to dark experiences associated with Trump’s obsession.
All the nastiness hasn’t diminished Kelly’s interest in interviewing Trump, however. So intent on the “get” was Kelly, in fact, that she asked to meet with him and showed up two weeks ago at his office to clear the air — as if doing so required any exertion on her part. Following that session, Fox News issued a statement saying, in part, “Kelly has acknowledged in recent interviews that Trump is a fascinating person to cover and has electrified the Republican base.” In a statement released Monday, Kelly stated, “Mr. Trump and I sat down together for a meeting earlier this month at my request. He was gracious with his time and I asked him to consider an interview. I am happy to announce he has agreed, and I look forward to a fascinating exchange — our first sit-down interview together in nearly a year.”
The face-off is set to air on Tuesday, May 17 on the Fox Broadcasting special, “Megyn Kelly presents” (8 to 9 p.m.). “Extended portions” of the interview will air on Fox News’s “The Kelly File” starting on the following night. Scheduling takeaway: Three weeks should afford Kelly all the necessary research time needed to pulverize Trump come interview time. Consider the record: At the August debate, she came prepared with a line of questioning that has helped to define Trump as a sexist, which is 100 percent accurate and appropriate. And Kelly, along with Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, crushed Trump at the March 3 GOP debate by deploying graphics containing clear and damning facts on the Trump record.
That Trump and Kelly would resolve their one-sided differences in an on-air special was inevitable. The Erik Wemple Blog has no idea whether Trump was genuinely chagrined about Kelly’s questions last August, or whether he has carried on this Twitter-borne vendetta as a campaign sideshow to whip up his political following. Either way, a highly anticipated interview with Kelly will elevate Trump and smother his opponents in ways that even his previous antics have not.
The interview will be the first of the “Megyn Kelly presents” series slated for Fox’s broadcast network — a broad platform for the cable star who’s now in her contract year. How important is the show to the Fox/Fox News brand? Its senior executive producer is Fox News chief Roger Ailes. According to a release, the program will “showcase Kelly’s renowned journalism skills in interviewing a wide variety of notable guests (to be announced) from the entertainment world and other spheres of human interest.”
“Sphere of human interest” pretty well describes Trump these days. He has built his profile to a significant degree by giving other cable-news interviewers the same answer he gave Kelly: Yes. Though he has indeed been pressed on his shallow command of policy, his bigotry and his evasions and falsehoods, too often he has slithered and bullied his way through these sessions — to the point that anything less than a slowly executed dismemberment by Kelly will be a letdown. Herewith a bet that she’ll get it done.