Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly has officially tried her hand at creating her very own “60 Minutes,” and the results are … mixed.
Despite an interview with one of the most controversial figures on the globe — Russian president Vladimir Putin — Kelly walked away from the debut episode of “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” on NBC with viewers talking more about her choice of clothing and how Putin ran the interview than any substantial questions she lobbed at him.
The Russian leader appeared to be more in control of the interview than she was. Once she asked him something, he was off and running — and Kelly asked very few follow-up questions on key points of interest.
“What fingerprints or hoof-prints or horn-prints? What are you talking about? IP addresses? They can be invented, you know?” he said to her after she asked about him the conspiracy theory that there might have been hacking by the Russians of the 2016 presidential election. “There are a lot of specialists who can even make it so it comes from your home IP address, as if your three-year-old daughter carried out the attack,” said Putin.
Kelly asked nothing in return. Putin, instead, was given numerous opportunities to give soundbites that made him look calm, authoritative, and in control.
He was often dismissive of Kelly — and made Kelly’s shortcomings as an interviewer very apparent to viewers.
“We don’t care who’s the head of the United States,” Putin said about the U.S. and the current president.
When asked by Kelly, “Do you have something damaging on our president?” Putin replied, “Load of nonsense.”
Kelly didn’t challenge Putin or ask him anything substantive in her time with him. If this is how future interviews with people like Alex Jones will go — Kelly’s show will not last long. To make matters worse, Oliver Stone, the director of such films as “JFK” and “Wall Street,” has his own interviews with Putin that will be airing on Showtime soon. The trailers for “The Putin Interviews” look as if he got far more out of the Russian president than Kelly, which is saying something, considering Kelly is a professional journalist, and Stone is an artist.
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The rest of Kelly’s program was filled with light reports and was clearly a play on the “60 Minutes” formula, but it was entirely forgettable, with nothing hard-hitting or fresh.
Neither side of the political aisle was in favor of Kelly’s debut.
“Megyn Kelly makes tepid debut on NBC,” wrote NPR in its headline.
The Los Angeles Times was no friendlier, saying Kelly was “outmaneuvered” by Putin in what was supposed to be the interview that set her show apart.
Viewers have not been enthusiastic, either.
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The responses likely don’t justify Kelly’s reported $17 million-a-year salary. NBC, however, has made the big gamble on a journalist who may be in over her head. The network is reportedly working on a morning program for Kelly as well.
On the ratings side of things, the news was as tepid as were the reviews of Kelly’s abilities as an interviewer and journalist. According to data posted by Showbuzz, “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” did manage to beat “60 Minutes” in the 18-49 age demographic, but it still did not earn numbers worth writing home about.
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The show drew 6.14 million viewers and scored a 0.8 in the 18-49 demo and 1.2 in the 25-54 demo.
What should be discouraging to NBC about those numbers is that they’re only going to slip from here. This was the debut episode of a major news program — ratings are always likely to peak during a debut, thanks to curious eyeballs. Also, the interview with Putin should have meant the show clobbered everything else during its time slot, but it appears audiences have little faith left in Kelly.