The face on the cover of Vanity Fair’s February 2016 issue is Megyn Kelly, “Fox News’s breakout prime-time star,” as Evgenia Peretz calls Kelly in her profile of the host.
“Unnerving would-be leaders, blowhards, and didacts from both parties has become Kelly’s specialty, as the world learned in August,” writes Peretz, referencing Kelly’s turn as co-moderator of the first Republican primary debate this past summer.
Part of her sometimes bi-partisan appeal, Peretz goes on to say, comes from Kelly’s “occasional, yet highly entertaining, bucking of the conservative party line.”
That willingness to openly question contentious ideas and beliefs was an early signature of the host:
The star-in-the-making was groomed by appearing weekly on The O’Reilly Factor, during which she and [Bill] O’Reilly developed a bit of shtick: sassy daughter takes on cranky old Dad. (He would, and still does, call her “Miss Megyn” and has sometimes referred to her as an “anchorette.”) Over the years, she has challenged him on everything from the number of opportunities given to African-Americans to how to talk to women more respectfully: “You have a penchant for that term ‘Calm down’ [to women]…. It’s patronizing.” Her ammo has been simply to have facts at the ready. “I’ve told him many times on the air, ‘You’re arguing with your heart and not with your head.’ ”
Defeating the male blowhard by being fully prepared became a Kelly specialty.
And of one of her more infamous exchanges with a male blowhard, during the GOP debate when Kelly asked Donald Trump to account for his treatment of women, Kelly described how she prepared in anticipation of what was to come:
“I wrote it. I researched each line item myself. It was interesting to me after the debate when people started fact-checking my question. My own reaction was ‘Bring it on.’ You think I’d go out there and ask a question like that at the first G.O.P. debate without making sure I was bulletproof on every single word?” She drafted and re-drafted it, and showed it to her fellow moderators, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier, whose initial reaction, Baier recalls, was “Wow, let’s think about this … there clearly was going to be pushback.”
Read the full profile here.