Megyn Kelly: The Last Straw

The Megyn Kelly eight-minute interview  with Newt Gingrich was riveting.  For me, it also was the last straw.

Let the drive-by media attack Gingrich, but I thought it was his finest hour since he handled John King four years ago at that GOP primary debate, when King of CNN started attacking Newt by quoting Newt's bitterly vindictive ex-wife.

Our household has become quite sick of Kelly, much as I had gotten tired of Greta Van Susteren.  Don't miss Greta a bit.  I know that Fox News is not only "fair," but "balanced," and I comprehend that they ultimately have more influence by maintaining a broader viewership if they avoid being as one-sided as is MSNBC.  Nevertheless, I have been finding Kelly more and more strident and less tolerable.  It may be that, post-Ailes, she is playing out her Fox contract and jockeying for a move to CNN or elsewhere.  Indeed, that would not be all bad – the presence at CNN of people with any amount of conservatism whatsoever is so rare that Kelly would be a good Trojan Horse to unload at CNN.

But with two weeks left to this deeply demoralizing presidential race that should have been a walk-away for the GOP – the country not only needs change, but wants change, and Hillary is the most despicable person ever to seek high office (yes, even more than Harding) – I am just sick of Kelly.  And her arrogant comments to Newt at the end, telling him to "deal with his anger issues," were my last straw. 

In my home, The Kelly File now is assigned to the "Circular File."

The drive-by media were thrilled with the Roger Ailes story.  In their best hopes, the Murdoch Kids would turn Papa Rupert's Fox News into another CNN.  At the least, the drive-bys were hoping that "Superstars" Megyn Kelly and Greta – and Hannity and O'Reilly – would quit, killing Fox's dominance and relegating it to MSNBC irrelevance. 

But here is my take:

That which brings Fox News its viewers like us is our sense that it is the only TV news outlet for a conservative viewpoint.  The only refuge.  To paraphrase the Kamela Harris/Gavin Newsom world of Northern California: The Sanctuary Channel.  We put up with the Leslie Marshall-Julie Roginsky-Juan Williams-Geraldo nonsense because we understand that Fox needs to put a left-oriented face up there to be "fair and balanced."  (Oh, how we miss Bob Beckel!)  But if they go too neutral, then they lose us to the Food Network and ESPN and Seinfeld.  Fox News has to protect its conservative brand – and that brand is a huge money-generating machine.  Megyn Kelly is not the asset to that brand that some may have thought she would be. 

Admittedly, there is something a bit self-serving when Fox News pronounces that it is "Number One in Cable News."  If you think about it, a liberal can choose among CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC.  So those media, in the aggregate, outdistance Fox.  Even so, Fox has the conservatives all to itself.  (In a way, it's like the Parker Brothers board game company: they have a monopoly on "Monopoly.")  While the drive-by media salivate over how Fox News soon will die if it loses "superstars" like Kelly and Greta, it is not Megyn Kelly who draws us to Fox.  If they replaced Kelly with Shannon Bream or Harris Faulkner or any of the others in their queue – not to mention Jesse Watters or Greg Gutfeld – we still would watch.  If they brought back Gretchen Carlson and paired her with Andrea Tantaros, that probably would send ratings through the roof.  Also Ed Henry, a fabulous reporter who has survived his setback.  Catherine Herridge.  Dana.  Chris Stirewalt.  Monica Crowley.  Laura Ingraham.  Fox News has cultivated some serious personalities alongside Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.  They have some real serious people – and, for comparison, how many of us stopped watching Fox News when they removed Alan Colmes from Hannity & Colmes?  

What draws us to Fox News is the interview with Newt Gingrich or Karl Rove or John Bolton, with Charles Krauthammer or George Will or Steve Hayes – not the supposed "superstardom" of a fungible Megyn Kelly or Greta van Susteren.

Among longtime Fox News fans I know, none likes Megyn Kelly.  I am talking of hundreds of people.  She had her moment early, as a newcomer, when she really seemed to bring something fresh and new to the mix.  That was before she evolved into a sarcastic, self-obsessed, and arrogant personality, reminiscent of the Andy Griffith character in the 1957 Elia Kazan film A Face in the Crowd.  She is far more fungible to Fox News than the drive-by media realize.  If the price of attracting younger viewers to that network is to bring in an obnoxious anchor whose worldview conflicts with the brand, and who abuses some of its finest commentators, then she merely spites the nose.  Fox News has cultivated an entire second team on their Business News channel – Lou Dobbs, Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo, so many others – and Megyn Kelly's reprehensible interview with Newt confirms that, really, Fox News without Megyn Kelly would be like Fox News without Greta Van Susteren.

Namely, it would be Fox News.

Rabbi Dov Fischer is author of General Sharon's War Against Time Magazine (Steimatzky: 1985).  His political commentaries have appeared on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review, The Los Angeles  Times, and in other major American publications.  He formerly was chief articles editor of UCLA Law Review, is an adjunct professor of law at two prominent American law schools, and is Rav of Young Israel  of Orange County,  California.