From the moment it debuted last year, “Today with Megyn Kelly” has been met with groans and eye rolls from many viewers, including those in the media — and the periodically aired “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” has fared no better.
While we can all acknowledge that speaking on a regular basis in front of a live studio audience must have enormous challenges, Kelly is earning literally millions and millions of dollars for what she does — so the bar is high indeed.
Here are the top 10 moments this talk show host likely wishes she could take back — comments that continue to haunt her as well as her television ratings:
1.) “The truth is, I am kind of done with politics for now.” That was Kelly’s promise to viewers when she appeared on NBC as the host of “Megyn Kelly Today” last fall after leaving a successful and heavily politics-driven show on Fox News months earlier. The only problem: She hasn’t followed through on this promise.
The next point makes this painfully clear…
2.) Silence. In an attempt to channel some “60 Minutes”-style gravitas in an interview she did with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kelly failed pretty spectacularly.
It wasn’t so much what she said in the Putin situation as it was what she didn’t say and didn’t do. What she didn’t articulate was anything of substance whatsoever in this interview. Putin seemed to be running the segment. Instead of the hard-hitting journalism NBC viewers were likely expecting, Kelly sat there and allowed Putin to drive the narrative — leaving those watching disappointed and underwhelmed.
3.) “Some of us want to be shamed.” This was Kelly’s comment during a January 2018 interview with a fitness model about women being shamed for their figures. People were openly shocked that Kelly would so blatantly advocate for fat-shaming. She added her own personal anecdote to cement her point. “When I was in law school and I was gaining weight, I said to my stepfather, ‘If you see me go into that kitchen one more time, you say, Where are you goin’, fat a**?'”
4.) “And if [Jane] Fonda really wants to have an honest discussion about older women’s cultural face, then her plastic surgery is tough to ignore.” This comment resulted from an interview Kelly did with actress Jane Fonda in the fall.
On the show, Kelly had asked Fonda directly about plastic surgery — but a then-79-year-old Fonda, who was not amused (she was there to promote her latest project) — deftly changed the topic. Later, Fonda joked about it on the “Today Show,” hosted by Kelly’s colleagues, Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie. After that exchange, Kelly used some time on another episode of her show to get ugly about the matter. She topped it off by pulling out the infamous “Hanoi Jane” slam.
5.) “I and other parents have to send our kids to school and play Russian roulette with their lives.” Kelly delivered this line the day after the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
All of America was pretty emotional that day, so a little latitude here for ranting seems fair. But Kelly, in her February 15 monologue, predicted that everyone would move on without doing anything to stop another shooting because politicians are too cowardly to take legislative action due to “history.” She also said the American public is to blame for the shooting because we have failed to get serious about voting in politicians who will enact gun control-related legislation.
6.) “Then what? Are we really going to loosen the standards for involuntary commitment in this country? … Good luck convincing the ACLU that it’s legal.” Kelly, who is a former attorney, appeared to be advocating for an increased ability for health care or law enforcement officials to remove citizens’ freedom without due process and deriding the ACLU’s defense of civil liberties in a single shot.
This statement was also made on February 15 following the shooting in Parkland, Florida.
7.) “The NRA is too powerful, our politicians are too weak, and guns are too ubiquitous.” The February 15 show was the gift that kept on giving in terms of Kelly’s blunders. Though she’d said when her show debuted that she would stay politics-free — taking on the NRA, politicians, and the Second Amendment (all at once, too) falls pretty squarely into that territory.
8.) “Is it true that you became a lawyer — and you became gay — because of Will?” In this decidedly awkward attempt at a joke with an audience member, Kelly seriously dropped the ball. Her guests that day were from the cast of the TV show “Will & Grace,” including Debra Messing, who later seemed particularly miffed about the gaffe. The audience member Kelly was addressing was a “superfan” of the show, who also happened to be a gay attorney, like the character Will Truman from the show. Kelly’s poor attempt at humor suggested a sitcom made the man gay.
9.) “It’s not going to be some gotcha hit piece, I promise you that.” This is what Kelly told Alex Jones, the founder of the conservative news outlet InfoWars, but it was later revealed she was putting on a front for him.
Falling into the “not so much what was aired as what wasn’t aired” category is Kelly’s interview with Jones on “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” from last summer. Thanks to some sneaky and misleading editing, Jones appeared to be framed as denying the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, ever took place.
The edited version of the hourslong interview was a 17-minute, disingenuously cut-and-pasted smear painting him in a very bad light. Jones himself recorded the entire interview, however — and viewers soon got wise to what Kelly and/or her staff had done when Jones released the audio and video through his own channel.
10.) “Is there any joy in your life?” Kelly said this to convicted murderer and prisoner Lyle Menendez on her show last fall. Menendez and his brother Erik were convicted of murdering their parents in 1994. Her quote is just one snippet of the bizarre interview with the man, in which she appeared to be trying to humanize the murderer in some way, or perhaps generate some sympathy for him among viewers.
This one was a head-scratcher. Or possibly not — when you consider the fact that Kelly’s employer, NBC, was about to launch a show about the brothers’ case.
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.