Updated: I wrote some of the post and realized upon reflection that some of it was probably a touch mean. I’ve since edited it a touch.
Let’s talk about Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, shall we?
In 2011 I won a journalism award from News Corp where I got to meet some of the muckety mucks at Fox. Night owl that I am, I asked to meet Greg Gutfeld. Gutfeld told me that Fox News was kind of like high school but without the jocks. “There are lots of babes and a bunch of nerds and geeks but no jocks,” he said. It was, he intimated, kind of awesome, at least, for the men. I thought this vaguely creepy and stopped watching Red Eye soon thereafter though I confess that was because I never really owned a TV. I wish Gutfeld well but think that his show and shtick was more interesting when it was more edgy. The forty-something frat boy runs dry and I’m a little tired of 70 year olds listening to 40 year olds about what 20 years old are interested in.
Anyway, in 2012 an adviser to Roger Ailes told me that Megyn Kelly and Brit Hume were having an affair. In 2014 a crisis PR official based in New York & hired by News Corp told me the same thing. The adviser said that Ailes told Kelly that she had to cancel the affair with Hume and that if she did she’d be the new face of Fox and step in for O’Reilly. I dismissed these rumors at the time but the Daily Kos wrote about the rumors surrounding Kelly and Hume in 2007 and later Kelly did step in for O’Reilly and has risen through the ranks–just as my source predicted. Kelly, in an interview with Howard Stern (yes, really), said she nearly didn’t get the job but that Ailes stepped in on her behalf.
She also discussed her breasts and penises because of course she did. Women have to be sexualized in our age and everyone is on it. She even posed for GQ in 2010 in photos that, while clothed, don’t leave a lot to the imagination. They may or may not be safe for work depending what your work is.
If any of this is actually true–Megyn Kelly never quite denied it– only that it was a big joke around the office! hahaha! Isn’t adultery funny?!– I don’t really know but it is what I have been told by people whose job it is to be in the know and I have no reason to doubt it, especially now that Hume is divorced and Kelly was a divorcee.
Megyn Kelly rose very quickly at Fox News. She wasn’t like Candy Crowley at CNN who worked he way up despite her looks.
Kelly got where she is because of her looks and anyone who doubts that is a liar. To be fair to her she is perky and interesting but the looks played a huge part in it. I’m not even against that but it’s worth recalling when Kelly tried to lecture Trump about how he treats women.
Here’s how Fox News actually works and Megyn Kelly certainly knows all of this.
One of the mistakes people make is thinking that whatever they see on television is spontaneous or top directed. Sure they’ll be program notes that will be sent down from on high in a morning email but this is a business, ladies and gents, not a charity or a missionary project or a political party.
What typically happens is that the news division (read: a poorly paid college grad who lives in Brooklyn with 3 roommates into their late 20s) sees what’s going on out there. They look at what’s trending on Twitter, what’s being shared on Facebook, and what’s on the Drudge Report. Then they look at their inbox.
Some people, like yours truly, are blacklisted from being mentioned on air even though it is perfectly OK to steal our content and pretend your “research division” found it (especially if you’re Bill O’Reilly). In truth there really isn’t a research division but a 20-something (or early 30-something) who usually decides what to put on based on what their friends or allies are saying. Sometimes you can affect what’s selected by taking the booker out for drinks or dinner (read: bribing) on behalf of clients. I used to do this but it’s hard to keep bribing people because the turnover is so great. It’s actually easier breaking the news that Fox later steals.
A lot of the times operatives (or bookers) use their personal relationships with the hosts. They’ll send notes, talking points, and opposition research. The hosts like this arrangement because they don’t have to do any real work and get “leaks” and have “sources” that they can rely on our air to sound smart. The “strategists” (who you probably never heard of) like this arrangement because it enables themselves to charge their clients more money. If you are a racial or ethnic minority (and/or a hot woman) you’re more likely to get booked. Fox likes to pretend that these hot women actually know something but more often that not they have some nerdy guy writing their talking points for them or at least advising them. Everyone wins in these kind of arrangements.
A lot of people at Fox actually don’t make much money at all. Fox even strings along young (and dumb) talent until they get bored or age or move on to something else having built a following. Don’t blame Roger Ailes. He is justifiably heralded as a genius who rightly took small town values and made big bucks. But every empire based in Manhattan ends up getting consumed by Manhattan lifestyle.
After all, if you could get people to work for free for you, wouldn’t you? You’d be stupid not to and probably it’s your duty as a fiduciary to have these people work for free. Think of them as narcissistic interns who are paid in fame (or meager sales for whatever terribly written book they are trying to sell). (Pro-tip: TV doesn’t really move book sales but sometimes radio does!)
Incidentally the liberals are nearly all paid to go on Fox because they actually lose something by going on the network: access to their liberal friends and have to be compensated.
So yes, Megyn Kelly was fed some opposition research on Trump.
How do I know that? Because the questions she asked of Trump were the sorts of questions you’d ask if you were fed oppo. I don’t blame Kelly for being fed; I’m annoyed that she pretends she isn’t.
The scene in question from Celebrity Apprentice (you were robbed Penn Jillette!) where Trump talks about a woman being on her knees wasn’t sexist but joking and teasing but we’re now supposed to believe that Trump hates women or something. In fact, Trump brought Brande Roderick, a former Playmate, onto his show as a serious contestant. She did well but she didn’t measure up and was fired. Throughout the show Trump treated an ageing Playmate with dignity and respect. I know because I have watched every episode of every season of Celebrity Apprentice. I don’t think Megyn Kelly did. In fact, I know she didn’t. Who gave her the oppo? And why isn’t that the story?
A few years ago Chris Wallace said that he had been fed oppo against Ted Cruz. He said he thought that was wrong but he didn’t out the people feeding him it. Why? Because his business depends on it.
Trump, who is famous for hosting beauty pageants, likes women. He likes attractive women and he isn’t shy about letting the world know that he likes them. He’s not only proud of it; he’s built an empire of promoting beautiful and attractive ladies. Trump is an alpha male in a Republican Party that increasingly dislikes or distrusts alphas.
Sure, he has said nasty things to women who have been nasty to him. These include Rosie O’Donnell, Arianna Huffington, and a few others. Were some of those comments mean? Sure but every one of those bitches deserved it. Feminism doesn’t mean you get a right to smack a man in the court of opinion without recourse.
Kelly and Trump have made up–just as we knew that they would. Trump is the ratings john–24 million people watching!–and Roger Ailes is its (metaphorical) pimp and Kelly will dance for dollars, just as any other moderator would dance for them. This is ultimately why the moderators ate up so much of the time: they wanted to get attention for themselves.
This is the Super Bowl-ification of the American political landscape. It’s not quite like Idiocracy but it’s certainly getting closer to that than Firing Line.
Can we please go back to the days where we had a timer and two men going at it? It seemed to have worked for Abraham Lincoln, the founding president, you know, of the Republican Party.