If you were to know nothing, or even just a little bit, about Fox News host Megyn Kelly and read Vanity Fair’s latest profile piece about the former trail lawyer turned conservative media megastar, you’d come out believing Kelly is a feminist icon who wants to be seen as another Oprah Winfrey. Besides treating the primetime commentator as a straight-shooting hard-ass who won’t take guff from anyone, the fawning cover story goes out of its way to gloss over Kelly’s long history of race-baiting and selling of right-wing outrage.
Just how bad is the piece when it comes to celebrity pandering? Well, have a taste of these little morsels:
Whatever the case, Kelly has become a feminist icon of sorts—the sort who won’t actually call herself a feminist. Perhaps this is because Kelly works at Fox News, where “feminists” are in the same scary category as “liberals” who wage war on Christmas each year. Perhaps, as she claims, it’s because her accomplishments speak for themselves and have nothing to do with her gender.
It helps that she’s a woman of preternatural charisma, with star power closer to that of Julia Roberts than to, say, Norah O’Donnell or Erin Burnett—two other beautiful TV newswomen who have made it big but have never exactly exploded. Now pulling down a reported annual pay package of $6-$9 million, she’s the alpha girl at the dinner party, the one telling the stories, cracking the jokes, the one who is nice to everyone but leaves people wanting more.
And yet … it’s not uncommon for the casual left-of-center viewer to say, in spite of himself, I kind of like her. In Kelly’s hands, these right-wing red-meat stories are presented with a varying degree of balance and often treated with humanity and wit. She’ll muster outrage at political correctness, but it feels rooted in common sense, not just derived from talking points.
Defeating the male blowhard by being fully prepared became a Kelly specialty. The rest of her career ascent would be littered with the bruised bodies of guys who had it coming—all while she continued to have babies.
Mind you, that is just a sample. The whole gotdamn article is like that. When Peretz isn’t establishing how damn near perfect Kelly is in her role, she’s gushing over how amazingly beautiful the leggy blonde is. (Don’t paint me as sexist…the writer spends copious amounts of page space commenting on Kelly’s legs and hair.)
After the puff piece’s hit the web on Monday, Gawker’s Sam Biddle highlighted a number of instances of Kelly selling white resentment to Fox’s audience. Beyond pointing out Megyn’s infamous “Santa is just white” moment from 2013, he also reminded readers that Kelly broke through by fear-mongering over the New Black Panther Party, a fringe group if there ever one was. Biddle ended his article with this takedown of Kelly:
Trading in race-baiting (sincere or not) each night while making the occasional, perfunctory nod toward gender equality doesn’t make Megyn Kelly complex, it just makes her bad. Just because she’s willing to tell Donald Trump that he’s a sexist doesn’t mean she herself isn’t toxic in many of the exact same ways Trump is. And while she’s eager to position herself (or let the press position her) as the refreshing female alternative to the stodgy male Hannity/O’Reilly Fraternity, she’s no less the irresponsible race-baiter than they. Is the best alternative to the Angry Racist Old Men of Fox News really just an Angry Racist Young Woman of Fox News?
Over at watchdog group Media Matters, researcher Olivia Kittel posted a blog stating the Vanity Fair piece showed why Megyn Kelly was “Fox News’ most dangerous host.” Making her case, she pointed to Kelly’s so-called “Megyn moments,” which Peretz gladly highlighted, and contrasted those with the countless number of times she tossed out conservative misinformation and treated it as news.
Sure, this is Vanity Fair, so what should we expect? Especially following a year where fanboy interviews of celebrities became the rule rather than the exception, mostly because that seemed to be the only way writers could gain access. But, still, this seems overkill, even by gossip rag standards. (And VF has tried to position itself as above that, anyway.) And, finally, haven’t we had our fill of fawning Megyn Kelly articles? Did we really need another one?