From the very outset of the interview, it was clear that the softie, personal setup was a disastrous choice for Trump, given the range of campaign outrages he has failed to account for and his online harassment of Kelly. The lighthearted tone and jokey vibe bathed the whole production in the willies. Bad reviews poured in from Slate, CNN, Vanity Fair, the Erik Wemple Blog and others.
Yours truly was among those that Kelly ripped last night on “The Kelly File.” “It … earned the scourge of many in the mainstream media because it was not a takedown of Trump. Not surprisingly, many of these very critics failed to disclose their own bias against Trump, against Fox News or against the GOP … Erik Wemple of The Washington Post has made no secret of his hatred for Trump, calling him a bigot and a misogynist. Wemple wrote that I should ‘dismember’ Donald Trump. Today, Wemple is upset that it did not ‘get personal about what Trump’s behavior has done to my life.’ ”
That would be a fine counter-criticism, if only it were valid. As anyone who watched the interview well knows, it was in part about Kelly. After all, she started one segment with these words: “Let’s talk about us.” “Us,” translates to “you” and “ME.” The nub of this blog’s critique is that Kelly pulled punches in this critical segment, failing to present Trump with the full impact of his endless online taunting. In interviews promoting the interview, Kelly has referred to a “dark year” as well as to other nasty fallout. Yet somehow Trump skipped accountability. At one point, Kelly requested, “Set the scene for me, because I know where I was when I was on the receiving end of a lot of those tweets. But I’ve always wondered where you were. I’m picturing a crushed velvet smoking jacket, chaise lounge, slippers.”
This blog might well have bagged this angle if not for the ending of “Megyn Kelly Presents.” In this shameful coda, Kelly revealed the cover of her book-in-progress: “In addition to “The Kelly File,’ I’ve been working on a project: A book which I’m unveiling right now. It’s called ‘Settle for More.’ ” Interesting! And what will it contain? “For the first time, I’ll speak openly about my year with Donald Trump. You can pre-order it now wherever books are sold.” The book will hit shelves on Nov. 15.
So: By her own admission, Kelly did not speak openly about her experience with Donald Trump in a nationally televised interview with Donald Trump. More critical, she’s planning to speak openly about this whole episode in a book that comes out a week after the 2016 presidential election. Whether she ends up writing glowing things about Trump or documents how his attacks upended her family life, Kelly must release this story before the election, in time for Fox News viewers to understand what happened. The famous Fox News host, after all, is sitting on an exclusive that relates to the behavior of Trump and his followers — a story that this blog and many other outlets have explored. There is no conceivable journalistic rationale for holding it.
The Erik Wemple Blog has asked the book’s publisher as well as Fox News to account for the odd publication date. We’re awaiting responses.
Megyn Kelly has made her career hammering public figures for their lameness, so it’s a little precious to hear her lash out at those who hold her to the standards that she herself erected. On the defensive, she cries “bias,” in the greatest Fox News tradition, and also falls back on TV-industry conventions. “This was a different offering and the whole show was different,” said Kelly last night, securing 100 percent agreement from Fox News’s Howard Kurtz. News for you television-news-template sophisticates: The U.S. public and the Erik Wemple Blog care nothing about your formatting distinctions.