Megyn Kelly signed a lucrative contract with the National Broadcasting Company last week; she will join NBC later this year.
What’s troubling here is not the fact that a female journalist has broken through a glass ceiling. In fact, that’s laudable.
No, what’s troubling is how she has done it.
Megan Kelly made a name for herself by making a raft of inflammatory and divisive claims and statements while at Fox News. There are many examples to choose among to illustrate this point; here are three:
In 2011, she downplayed UC-Davis students being pepper sprayed during an on-campus and non-violent protest by suggesting that they were being sprayed with “a food product, essentially“. While capsaicin, the active ingredient in pepper spray, is indeed derived from plants in the Capsicum genus, it takes some real suspension of disbelief to call pepper spray a food product. By this definition, cyanide, which also can be found in many fruiting plants, is also a food product.
In 2013, she claimed that “historical figure” Santa Claus can only be a white male. She also said that it was a “verifiable fact” that Jesus was a white man. First, Santa Claus is a work of fiction; he is not a historical figure. Second, St. Nicholas, the man upon which Santa Claus is based, was a Turkish—i.e., Middle Eastern—monk. Regarding Jesus Christ, he was born to a Jewish family in the area of modern-day Israel; historians and scholars suggest he likely looked like what many modern day people of Middle Eastern descent look like. Kelly’s ridiculous statements prompted this response from Jon Stewart.
And, in 2015, she critiqued a Justice Department review, which uncovered troubling cases of racial bias Ferguson, Missouri Police Department. Kelly called it unfair to criticize the department because we would be just as likely to find racist emails and inappropriate comments in Corporate America.
This is not normal.
Maybe it’s just me, but I am unable to justify and celebrate and praise the promotion of people to positions of influence and authority when their credentials are built upon a foundation of demagoguery.
Billy Bush lost his job at NBC for failing to stand up to a demagogue. NBC seems to have quickly forgotten that episode, and has simply chosen to replace one of their previous demagogues with a new one.
Megyn Kelly is no Gwen Ifill.