The Presidential debates have brought interest in the election to a fever pitch, and for Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier — who are the face of Fox News’ political coverage — that extra push has led them to a major milestone.
More than 10 million people watched Kelly and Baier’s coverage of the Vice Presidential debate last Thursday, putting Fox News ahead of its competitors: cable and broadcast.
“It’s amazing to me,” Kelly told TVNewser Monday as we stopped by the set of her “America Live” program.
“FNC has been such a powerhouse for a long time, but it’s still a cable news operation, and people have to pay for cable, and not everybody has it. So whenever we beat the nets, that’s a big deal. That gets all of our attention.”
From her perch at the Fox News anchor desk, Kelly has had a front-row seat to the first two debates. She is quick to defend Jim Lehrer, who was widely criticized for his handling of the first Presidential debate, saying he did “exactly what a moderator should do, which is get out of the way.”
Kelly said the campaigns and the media “are not aligned in their missions when it comes to the debates,” noting the early criticism of tonight’s moderator, CNN anchor Candy Crowley, came from the campaigns’ concern that she might ask follow-up questions of the candidates.
“Let’s not start criticizing the moderator before she’s moderated! Let’s give the woman a break and let her do her job and let’s see how she does it,” Kelly said. “If she tries to make the debate all about her, and insert a bunch of Candy Crowley questions, instead of the town hall questions, that won’t be
appropriate … that’s not her role at this particular debate. But if she just presses one of the candidates to actually answer the question that the town hall participant asked, then I say, go Candy!”
Kelly will anchor Fox News’ debate coverage again tonight beginning at 8:55pmET. She prepares by staying up to speed “on the latest wrinkle of every issue that the candidates are likely to be discussing.”
While big ratings are a cause for celebration, it’s not what drives the network, says Kelly.
“That has never been our bosses approach, and it’s not our approach either. I don’t think Roger [Ailes] ever thinks in terms of, go out there and get ratings,” she said. “He always says, be yourselves and have a good time. And those are our only marching orders for these evenings.”
Kelly is most looking forward to election night, which she calls “the Super Bowl times 100,” and the front row seat it provides.
“We’re so close now to the big night. That’s what it’s all about,” she said. “There will come a night, in the not-so-distant future, three weeks from now, where we get to sit and the counties in Ohio will start reporting. And we will will start to learn how that state is going to go. And being in news, we’ll be the first ones to know.”