Hillary Clinton called Fox News Channel star Megyn Kelly a "superb journalist" on Tuesday as she blasted Donald Trump for disrespectful treatment of women. But if the Democratic presidential front-runner thinks her Republican counterpart's favorite media target is so "superb," why hasn't she appeared even once on "The Kelly File" during her White House campaign?
A Fox News spokeswoman said Clinton has been invited to join the program "many times" but has never consented. A Clinton spokesman did not immediately respond to a Fix inquiry about the former secretary of state's willingness to be interviewed by Kelly.
Clinton paid Kelly a compliment during an appearance on "The View" in which she offered a broad critique of Trump's campaign rhetoric, which she characterized as offensive toward racial minorities, Muslims and women, among others.
"His attitude about and what he has said about so many women — the way he treated Megyn Kelly, who is a superb journalist, right?" Clinton said, as her ABC hosts agreed. "I just don't understand what he thinks is the role of somebody running for president."
This isn't the first time Clinton has defended Kelly against Trump's insults, which persist long after a tough debate question (about sexist remarks, of all things) ticked off the billionaire. When Trump suggested last August that Kelly had "blood coming out of her wherever," Clinton said that "what Donald Trump said about Megyn Kelly is outrageous. Megyn Kelly is a strong woman and more than capable of defending herself against Donald Trump."
Yet Clinton's stated admiration of Kelly hasn't led to an interview. In fact, Clinton has ventured on to the Fox News air just once in this campaign. She participated in a half-hour town hall event moderated by Bret Baier in March. Baier told The Fix at the time that "we hope the dam is breaking," but Clinton has not been back in the month since then.
Coincidentally, Kelly addressed her inability to book Clinton in a Q&A with Variety published Tuesday.
VARIETY: Are you interested in interviewing Hillary?
KELLY: Still working on it.
VARIETY: What’s the hold-up?
KELLY: She is. Actually, I haven’t gotten close enough to find out how she feels. She’s surrounded by so many circles, it’s like you can’t get through. I hope she’s not going to govern like this. Am I really that scary? I’m a tough interviewer when it comes to these politicians, for sure. But how can she say she deserves George Washington’s job and not sit with me?
VARIETY: What would you like to ask her?
KELLY: I have a lot I want to ask her about. I would like to hear her opinions about Trump. I think there’s a lot more to discuss in terms of the emails.
VARIETY: Like what?
KELLY: If I give you the exact question, you’re going to print it in Variety and she’s going to see it. Trust me, I have a good one ready to go. I think anyone who has watched these presidential debates knows I’m tough but fair. My goal will not be to destroy Hillary Clinton. Nor would it be to coronate Hillary Clinton.
As I've argued before, Clinton ought to appear on Fox News more regularly. It's the top-rated cable news channel, and Kelly hosts the genre's second-most-watched show. Fox is a favorite news source for conservatives, but a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 18 percent of the network's audience identifies as "consistently" or "mostly" liberal; an additional 37 percent described their political views as "mixed." Surely, there are some potential Clinton voters among Kelly's 2.5 million nightly viewers. It seems foolish to completely ignore them.
For now, however, Kelly will have to settle for another compliment from Clinton. Perhaps Clinton's reluctance to be interviewed by Kelly is the highest compliment of all.