Reviewers Call Kelly Clear Winner in Fox News Debate

By Mark Joyella 

The Fox News Republican presidential debate was surrounded with Trump-generated drama–and Donald Trump‘s quasi-fundraiser as counter programming. But in the end, a debate happened, and moderator Megyn Kelly, in the view of reviewers, shined.

“The winner was….Megyn Kelly,” writes Jason Abbruzzese at Mashable:

Kelly, the Fox News anchor and lightning rod for Donald Trump’s hate, came into Thursday night’s debate under plenty of pressure. Not that you could have sensed it.

Debuting a sleek, powerful new look, Kelly’s moderation of the Republican presidential debate on Fox News drew widespread accolades, particularly for hard-hitting questions directed at candidates’ positions.

Salon’s Sonia Saraiya said “It was hard not to root for Kelly, as a reasonable human being who is skeptical of bigotry” during last night’s debate:

Kelly was both immaculately dressed and immaculately poised, handling Trump’s ratings-threatening absence and the eight obfuscating candidates on stage with a sharpness that outstripped her co-moderators, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace.

Writing at Fast Company, Mark Sullivan noted that Kelly “won kudos on Twitter for her calm style and smart questions.”

Some of those questions included a series of video clips, compiling candidates’ past comments on issues–with Kelly asking how those comments square with their positions on the campaign trail. “Kelly had plenty of opportunities to force…candidates into tight ideological spots and to watch in glee as they squirmed—she was in peak form,” wrote Christina Cauterucci at Slate.

At Vanity Fair, Benjamin Landy said Kelly’s questions “demolished” Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio”

With no Donald Trump on stage to draw her fire, Fox News host Megyn Kelly took aim at the next two highest-ranking candidates during Thursday’s free-wheeling Republican debate, leveling Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio with a series of devastating video clips that turned their own words on immigration against them.

The Washington Post summed up Kelly’s night by noting that she was tough–and tough to push back against:

This is the Kelly magic: she can be confrontational and charming all at once. It’s easy to argue with a journalist no one likes, but it’s much tougher to pick a fight with one who so easily wins over the viewers you hope to turn into your voters.