An unlikely therapy session.
Yes, her network had stood by her. Yes, some think her archrival — the leading Republican presidential contender — is a Neanderthal. But Megyn Kelly of Fox News, who learned today she will be stood up by Donald Trump at a debate she is moderating Thursday in Des Moines, had a rough day.
“Megyn Kelly is a hack,” one critical Twitter comment read. Donald Trump “is exposing her and the network for what it is … A liberal shill.”
Enter Michael Moore — a man unlikely to shore up Kelly’s bona fides among conservatives. The liberal gadfly was on “The Kelly File” on Tuesday evening to promote a new film and weigh in on the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Mich., his home town.
But after Kelly introduced Moore’s “Where to Invade Next?” — in which, as Kelly put it in an opening that probably made many Fox viewers’ skin crawl, “Moore travels through Europe to highlight what he believes to be America’s shortfalls” — Moore didn’t want to talk about himself. For the man who hounded General Motors chief executive Roger Smith and vilified President George W. Bush, it was all about Kelly and her bold stand against Trump.
“What does this feel like for you?” Moore said. “Because you don’t want to be the story — you’re a journalist.”
Kelly’s rejoinder: “I get to ask the questions here!”
“I feel bad for you,” Moore said. He then wondered why Trump would deprive himself of Kelly’s company: “What’s he afraid of? I’m sitting here. I don’t feel any fear.”
“You shouldn’t,” Kelly said. “I’m a pussycat.”
“You can ask Donald,” Moore said, volunteering to play chaperone for the candidate. “Donald — come down. Come sit beside me. I’ll hold your hand. She’s fine.”
Kelly: “Stop that!”
The world held its breath — and the Doomsday Clock, perhaps, ticked a bit closer to its metaphorical midnight. Was Michael Moore flirting with Megyn Kelly? Or, perhaps more shocking — was Megyn Kelly flirting with Michael Moore?
It was unclear. But conflict does make for unlikely allies. And, even before “The Kelly File” was off the air, Trump was issuing further broadsides about his refusal to be a part of Thursday’s debate on Fox, just days before the Iowa caucuses.
“As someone who wrote one of the best-selling business books of all time, ‘The Art of the Deal,’ who has built an incredible company, including some of the most valuable and iconic assets in the world, and as someone who has a personal net worth of many billions of dollars, Mr. Trump knows a bad deal when he sees one,” a statement from Trump’s campaign read. “… Unlike the very stupid, highly incompetent people running our country into the ground, Mr. Trump knows when to walk away. Roger Ailes and FOX News think they can toy with him, but Mr. Trump doesn’t play games.”
Moore, expressing surprise that Kelly was doing so well under fire, even asked Kelly out. On the air.
“I was thinking I was maybe going to have to, like, take you out to dinner afterwards,” Moore said. “We could talk. You could emote … get it out. I’m here for you.”
“I had no idea there was this side to you,” Kelly said.
Maybe this all was a joke. Maybe it wasn’t. But then, Moore got real about Kelly and Trump.
“In all seriousness, let me say this,” Moore said. “… You’ve done something that Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rubio, Cruz — none of them have been able to do. Which is to, essentially, frighten him.”
“Would you move on from the Trump situation?” Kelly said. But, at least on some laptop screens, it appeared she may have blushed.
Thrilled by Moore’s charm offensive or not, Kelly was promptly slammed by some on social media for her love-in with the man who endorsed Ralph Nader in 2000.
“After Megyn Kelly’s bizarre interview with Michael Moore, [Donald Trump’s] decision to skip GOP debate looking politically genius,” one person wrote on Twitter. Another: “To give a pig like Michael Moore a stage sealed the deal for me and Megyn Kelly.” Another: “Megyn Kelly is yucking it up with Michael Moore. Yes, she’s such a real journalist.”
As Moore’s time on “The Kelly File” drew to a close, Kelly perhaps sensed that she might pay the price for appearing to cozy up to a filmmaker loathed by millions.
“Now you’re really ruining my rep,” Kelly said. “I gotta get outta here.”
“God bless you, Megyn Kelly!” Moore said. “We’re both Irish. Don’t forget.”