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In Defense of Megyn Kelly

| August 10, 2015

megyn kelly donald trump tweets

Before she needed to check her trompe-Tweets.

By Nancy Smith

Megyn Kelly, the only female moderator in Thursday night’s Fox presidential debate, is still getting hammered for leveling tough — even “mean” and “disgusting” — questions at candidate Donald Trump. Personally, I don’t get it. But that’s what is happening. CNN reports there has been so much invective directed at the host of Fox News’ “The Kelly File” on the Internet that it’s created security concerns for the network. Twitter is alight with calls for America to switch her off and Fox to fire her. This is ridiculous.


Kelly deserves more support from the right. She deserves conservatives’ admiration, not their disdain, and if you’ll bear with me, I’d like to give you three reasons why.

1. She was doing her job and then some

As an employee of right-leaning Fox, Kelly — or for that matter, fellow moderators Bret Baier and Chris Wallace — could have spent two hours Thursday night lobbing feel-good softballs to the GOP top 10. That’s what some Democrats expected from a network that wears its Republican heart on its sleeve. But none of them did. Kelly in particular proved she was a legitimate journalist, asking the questions that Democrats would ask if Trump were the Republican nominee — or if  any of the candidates on the stage were headed to the top of the ticket. That’s what a good journalist does.

If MSNBC were hosting a debate for Democratic candidates, I wonder, would Rachel Maddow fire as many Megyn Kelly-style broadsides at Hillary Clinton for her email scandal? Or for Clinton’s failures as secretary of state, which many say helped bring war to Europe, an arms race to Asia, and inferno to the Middle East?

Maybe we’ll get to see Maddow in action. But we’ve seen Kelly, she passed the fluff-begone test and I’m eternally grateful she’s on Fox.

2. She asked tough questions of all the candidates, not just Trump

Kelly, like her colleagues, looked for every candidate’s Achille’s heel. Nobody on the stage Thursday night got a pass. Everybody had at least one tough question from one of the moderators and most had more than one. It just so happens Trump has more to explain — more fodder for questions — based on his record of very public remarks and his penchant for celebrity built on larger-than-life controversy.

nancy-smith-beg-to-differYes, Kelly asked Trump about women,  and why wouldn’t she? The GOP hasn’t captured the women’s vote in a presidential election since 1988. Based on Trump’s history of making disparaging remarks against women — calling them, among other things, “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs,” and “disgusting animals” — the question is more than legitimate.

And the fact that he would disparage Rosie O’Donnell on the GOP stage for a laugh — or any woman by name who wasn’t there to defend herself — shows what a good question and telling response it was.

Never mind Trump for a moment. Look at the questions she asked other candidates:

— She asked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush about saying that his brother’s decision to go into Iraq was a mistake: “To the families of those who died in that war… How do you look at them now and say your brother’s war was a mistake?”

— She pressed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on his strict abortion stance: “Would you really let a mother die, rather than having an abortion?”

— She questioned Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who justified expanding Medicaid in Ohio by arguing that he would be able to talk to St. Peter at the pearly gates about it. “Why should Republican voters, who generally want to shrink government, believe you won’t use your Saint Peter analogy to expand all government?” she asked. She also asked him, “If you had a son or daughter who was gay or lesbian, how would you explain to them your opposition to same-sex marriage?”

Click On:


— She reminded neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson that his critics say his inexperience shows. “You’ve suggested that the Baltic States are not a part of NATO, just months ago you were unfamiliar with the major political parties and government in Israel, and domestically, you thought Alan Greenspan had been treasury secretary instead of federal reserve chair. Aren’t these basic mistakes, and don’t they raise legitimate questions about whether you are ready to be president?”

— She questioned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on the NSA’s collection of phone records and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s opposition to that. “Do you really believe you can assign blame to Senator Paul just for opposing the bulk collection of people’s phone records in the event of a terrorist attack?” The question set off a flurry of back-and-forths between Christie and Paul.

— She asked Florida Sen. Marco Rubio about his favoring a rape and incest exception to abortion bans, even though Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York called those exceptions preposterous. “If you believe that life begins at conception, as you say you do, how do you justify ending a life just because it begins violently, through no fault of the baby?”

As I said, every candidate had tough questions, they just weren’t all asked by Megyn Kelly. Chris Wallace, for example, was fairly relentless questioning Trump on his four business bankruptcies — as he should have been. Fact is, ruthless as it is, resorting to bankruptcy as a strategy works in BusinessWorld, but the American people might want to know how he would employ that strategy in the Oval Office.

3. Donald Trump is a big boy

Trump climbed in the polls by playing the establishment critic, even as he served the establishment’s interests by sucking up the media oxygen from true conservatives like Sens. Ted Cruz, Paul and Rubio. He plays the tough guy. But he couldn’t handle it when Kelly asked him a straight and fair question.

Certainly, his outspoken and bombastic style are very appealing to people who feel like they lack power or a voice. People get a vicarious thrill out of seeing somebody speak truth to power and they get this in spades with Donald Trump. I understand that. But now he is, or was, the front-runner to win the GOP nomination for president of the United States. He, above all, is fair game for tough questions. And what Megyn Kelly has shown us with her question and Trump by his response is anything but presidential.

You’ve heard his “blood” quote by now. But Trump also retweeted a string of negative comments including one that accused Kelly of an “attempted hatchet job” against him, and another that called her a “bimbo.”

Bottom line: Fox News staged an awesome debate. There are many more debates planned to cover policy issues. But the questions asked at this first presidential debate got each candidate on the record with the issues that, for better or worse, define them. And make no mistake, Megyn Kelly did conservatives a huge favor. We have a much better insight today into Donald Trump than we did a week ago.

nancy smith sunshine state news columnistNancy Smith is the editor of Sunshine State News. She started her career at the Daily Mirror and The Observer in London before spending 28 years at The Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News as managing editor and associate editor. She was president of the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors in the mid-1990s. Reach her by email here, or follow her on twitter at @NancyLBSmith.

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14 Responses for “In Defense of Megyn Kelly”

  1. DwFerg says:

    Ms. Kelly needs no defense. She is tough (sometimes as Nails), it’s just her pretty face that distracts from her hard line reporting. 24 Million people tuned in to the Republican debate—Surely, Trump kicked the ratings northward, but the FOX team produced an entertaining forum for all demographic, eligible voters ranges. TV lives by ratings, defend her all you want, she is laughing all the way to the Bank $$$ !!!

  2. Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

    It’s a debate, guys. You aren’t sitting down for tea and cookies to discuss your latest venture into knitting and how funny your cats were acting this morning. Better that you’re flayed for your idiotic opinions in front of an audience that donated to your campaign than as the republican candidate facing off against the opposition.

    I do have to wonder if Trump has an undiagnosed (or possibly diagnosed but untreated) mental illness. I guess he might be suffering from the narcissism that people who are wealthy but out of touch with the rest of humanity sometimes have. His erratic, arrogant, and rich elitist behavior would make him a terrible president but a great spokesman for the republican party.

  3. Robert says:

    1) These Presidential debates have become “dog & pony” shows. The Media hosts have inserted themselves to be part of the debate instead of staying on the sidelines, where they belong. 2) Like/Dislike Trump – meaningless – what Trump did say/imply, that I agree with – this Megyn Kelly is nothing but an overrated hack, nothing more. A lawyer who could not handle the real world and chose to find solace and protection in the world of current day Media Morons. She is no-one. 3) Can anyone tell me why the females at all the Fox Cable Stations all dress “provocatively?” They all look like the old saying “ladies of the night.” Is looking/dressing (and sometimes acting) like an anorexic, sixteen-year-old the “norm” of forty-plus females? Are they all afraid of growing old? Just wondering.

    • Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

      All good points. Women should wear dresses that stop at the ankles and be subservient beasts, as per the Good Book. Did you hear about this new “rock and roll” music? The Devil’s work, that’s what my pastor says. And that dance that Elvis was doing on the tee vee last night? I can’t believe they are allowed to do that on tee vee, this nation is turning it’s back on God.

  4. tulip says:

    Welcome to the GOP Trump show!! If it weren’t for him very few of us would be paying any attention to the politics of it right now, and having our minds and thoughts opened up to some subjects that would be avoided as much as possible by the other candidates because of their controversy.

    Like or dislike, agree or disagree, Trump has actually caused a large amount of the population to actually think about and discuss issues before casting a vote.

  5. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    I don’t have a particular problem with Ms Kelly in so much as I have a problem with the entire field of “Journalists” who as the previous commentator indicated have made these “debates” about them, rather than the candidates. I read one article that indicated the 3 moderators from the Fox debate had significantly more speaking time than any of the candidates, that’s maybe good for their careers, and for the Fox “brand”, but it’s not good for our Republic. They’re no longer debates, they are reality shows, and that being the case, it’s no wonder the Realty Host himself came away with a “win”…

    I’d like to see a real debate, where moderator gives out a topic, and shuts up for 30 minutes and let’s the candidates debate. No bells, no 30 second soundbites, just real debate.

  6. Swizz says:

    What happened to debates being about issues. Asking petty questions like why did you call such and such a bad name isn’t good journalism. Are they going to ask Hillary how she felt when Bill was having oral sex with Monica? Are they going to ask her if she now think’s all men are pigs as a result of that experience and will male voters elect her knowing she holds a grudge? It’s just dumb. This country is floundering and all of this political correctness is making it worse. If have few people get butthurt for the sake of the country, so be it. Just fix it.

  7. Sherry E says:

    Excellent Article!

    While I am no fan of Megyn Kelly, or any of the other talking heads on FOX, I always watch all the political debates for President. I must say, I was surprised at the hard hitting questions asked by ALL the FOX moderators. FOX, where I imagine Republican politicians to be inseminated and tenderly grown in those pods ala “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. FOX, where every Republican guest or commentator is coddled and made to look as good as possible, while every Democrat on the earth is shredded to ribbons, often with contrived misinformation.

    This I will say. . . FOX knows how to put on a good “reality TV show”. . . which as all intelligent people know. . . is about as far from reality as it gets. Why their credentials are right up there with Swamp People, Survivor and Honey Boo Boo. No, I don’t watch any of that garbage. . . I just Googled a list. I can imagine that their ratings for the Trump Reality Show must have been really good. For me, it was a typical FOX 3 ringed circus. Talking about government policies and political positions is rather dry and can be down right boring. . . while that might be informative for the voters. . . that is NOT good TV. . . meaning not good for PROFITS. . . NOT FOX.

    Saying that, as a women, I am again offended by Donald Trump. . . who obviously disrespects women and sees them only as trophies, ornaments, possessions. . . with no independent value regarding their intellect and abilities other than as accoutrements to the males of our species. Donald Trump too often dramatically demonstrates the worst characteristics of his gender. He is absolutely an unaware, unapologetic megalomaniac, who has people cowering because of his ill gotten wealth.

    The citizens of our country should be incredibly embarrassed that such a person is even being considered for elected office in our nation. Unfortunately and sadly that is not the case.

    Apparently we now live in an era where MONEY is the measure of what is good, and where MONEY is powerful enough to replace the value of civility, decorum, ethics, integrity, honesty, respect, honor, logic, intellect, education, reason, accomplishment, experience, expertise, . . . etc. etc. etc. How very tragic for the evolution of our country and our society!

  8. karma says:

    [Correction: the author is not a liberal, but the conservative editor of Sunshine State News, as the identifying information at the foot of the article clearly states.–FL]

    How great is it that a liberal has to defend someone from Fox news. I guess they hate Trump more than Fox. Imagine if the moderator was Gwen Ifill from the 2012 debates. The press would be going crazy and of course he would be a accused of whatever else.

  9. Bob says:

    According to you Bronkowitz, Trump has the same mental afflictions as Obama!

    • Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

      [Selected as the Comment of the Day in the Daily Briefing.–FL]

      Nothing I’ve seen regarding his behavior in the public eye or his actions as a president supports your statement. You aren’t one of those wacky “obummer sekret mooslim kenyan” people are you? I mean, I understand the appeal – a black man AND a democrat in office? I imagine for some people, the transition from the end of a noose to a seat in the oval office is a positively apoplectic event, disabling them such that they only feel safe in their mobility scooters if they’re allowed to drape themselves in confederate flags and tea party stickers. Maybe for those, Trump is the ideal candidate, and I defend your choice in this wonderful nation of ours.

  10. karma says:

    and David Brooks at the New York Times makes the same claim- FL

  11. Outsider says:

    I have no problem with Megan Kelly, and am not at all surprised Fox News hit them hard. Some people seem to confuse the news side of Fox News with the opinion programs. Yes, some who deliver commentary are certainly biased, but it is their show and the ratings are high, so they must be garnering the approval of their audience segment, just as Jon Stewart and Bill Maher deliver what their audiences want to hear. On the news side, they are much fairer and always provide the opportunity of speakers from both side of the argument, though it seems that the likes of Hillary and Obama rarely take the opportunity given to them. The president in particular has a penchant for grumbling and publicly criticizing Fox but never has the spine to actually appear on the show and defend himself. It’s also interesting to compare and contrast this debate with the 2012 debates, where toughness was all directed at the Republicans, while Candy Crowley actually jumped in and saved Obama by claiming he did call the Benghazi attacks “terrorist attacks.” Those of you who were expecting softball questions at the debate will have to be content to wait for George Stephanopolous’s rigorous questioning of Hillary Clinton on her favorite colors (I can assure you it’s not blue or white) during the Democratic debate, should there actually be one.

  12. Bob says:

    Many psychiatrists have said Obama is a narcissist and arrogant. I have no problem with his skin color. I do, however, with him being the worst president in history. I am supporting Ben Carson. It’s too bad he wasn’t the first black president.

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