Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly gained a tremendous amount of attention throughout this election year, having been inserted into Donald Trump’s campaign as a prop for his platform of sexism and misogyny rather than for her skills as a reporter at a network famous for its unapologetic bias and disregard for women in general. Surprisingly, Ms. Kelly, who was also instrumental in the firing of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes after she accused him of sexual harassment (which subsequently led to numerous other women at the network coming forward with similar claims), has emerged from the rubble of the true-life horror show otherwise disguised as the year 2016 as a new, albeit unexpected, face of feminism. She took on the establishment and didn’t back down when she was told to sit pretty and shut up; not even after receiving death threats from Trump supporters who felt she treated the President-elect unfairly during his campaign simply by doing her job. However, Kelly recently made it known that sexism is still alive and well, showing no clear signs of decreasing in momentum.
When speaking to The New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg on Wednesday, November 16, she said, “There were a few themes that came out of 2016, and one of them is, as women, we have a long way to go, a long way to go. There is a tolerance for some considerable level of sexism and in some corners — let me underscore I’m not referring to Trump specifically, just what we saw this year — even misogyny.”
While this is not necessarily breaking news for women, it does register on the high end of astonishment that in the year 2016, women are still being subjected to this level of intolerance and mockery based entirely on our gender, despite the immeasurable contributions we always have (and will continue to make) in and for our society as a whole.
Kelly came under fire after daring to question many of the remarks Trump has made about women in the past (and present) during the first Republican presidential debate; specifically, his continued reference to them as fat pigs, slobs, and dogs, among other deplorable, disgusting and categorically sexist names. This query took place before the infamous “grab them by the p****” audio was released. Opposed to her audacity of repeating his own well-documented words back to him, Trump took it upon himself to relentlessly bully, torment and slander Kelly, going so far as to publicly claim that during the debate she had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out her, wherever.”
But, you know, NO ONE has more respect for women than Donald J. Trump.
Kelly stated after a Trump supporter tweeted she was a “bimbo,” her 5-year-old daughter caught wind of it and asked her mom what the word meant. She describes the incident as one of her “lowest moments.” She said, “Trump wanted to make me a story line in the race. I was trying for nine months to get myself off of the playing field and onto the sidelines, where a reporter belongs.”
One would expect her coworkers would rally behind her after her experiences with both Trump and Ailes, but that hasn’t been the case. Popular Fox personality Bill O’Reilly has expressed his frustration with Kelly by claiming her new book, “Settle For More,” is making “his” network look bad.
The book in question, which Kelly is currently promoting, describes in detail the sexual harassment she experienced from Ailes, which he fervently denies. Ms. Kelly alleges Ailes propositioned her for sex a number of times and threatened to have her fired if she didn’t comply. After alerting others at the network to the situation, she says she was told to avoid Ailes; by doing so, she said the harassment stopped. However, during her Times interview, she said to Rutenberg, “Think of what would happen here at Fox if we had had a female C.E.O. and it was a C.O.O. who was harassing me when I got harassed by Roger Ailes. I think things would have wound up very differently, and perhaps 12 years of women wouldn’t have had to go through those experiences.”
As for Trump, Kelly has expressed she is willing to give him a chance in the hopes he will begin to act in a more presidential manner once he takes office. That doesn’t mean she’s convinced he will. When asked if she thinks he can/wants to change, she replied that most men in their 70’s are pretty set in their ways. She added Trump’s anger toward her was, what she believed, a tantrum-like response to not being praised by Fox in the manner he wished, meaning only positive coverage.
When he didn’t get his way, he complained, ranted, stomped his feet, held his breath and created controversy for the network because of the “meanie” woman who said something he didn’t like, all the while feeling justified in his childish outbursts. Kelly said, “It’s a bit like the boy who kills his parents and then begs for mercy on the grounds that he’s an orphan, right?”
Megyn Kelly is now one of the most sought-after and higher paid anchors in the country; she is currently weighing the option of renewing her contract with Fox News for a purported $20 million per year or packing up and moving to another network. Whatever road she chooses, it will certainly be interesting to see what happens once she’s settled into her chosen digs.