Who Is Megyn Kelly?
Born in Champaign, Illinois, in 1970, Megyn Kelly began her career as a lawyer before changing course to become an assignment reporter in 2004. That same year, she was hired by the Fox News Channel as a Washington, D.C. correspondent. Quickly establishing herself as a competent reporter who was unafraid of asking difficult questions, Kelly catapulted to the media outlet's center stage. Kelly became co-anchor of America’s Newsroom in 2006, anchor of America Live in 2010 and anchor of The Kelly File in 2013. The Kelly File became one of the highest-rated cable news programs on television. In 2017, she left Fox to host Megyn Kelly Today on NBC, though the show was canceled in the fall of 2018 following a controversial segment.
Early Life and Ambitions
Megyn Marie Kelly was born in Champaign, Illinois, on November 18, 1970. The youngest of three children, she was raised in the town of DeWitt, New York, before her family moved to Delmar, near Albany. Kelly attended Bethlehem Central High School, where she was involved in athletics and was captain of her cheerleading squad. When she was 15 years old, her father passed away from a sudden heart attack.
Following her high school graduation in 1988, Kelly attended Syracuse University. After being turned down by the school of public communications, she chose to study political science instead of journalism, and earned her bachelor’s degree in 1992. She then enrolled at the Albany Law School and edited the Albany Law Review, which allowed her to serve on a panel that reviewed sexual harassment allegations against faculty members. When she graduated with honors in 1995, she envisioned becoming a prosecutor in the district attorney's office. Instead, she found work as an associate with the corporate law firm Bickel & Brewer and relocated to Chicago in 1997.
From Law to Journalism
In Chicago, Kelly met medical student Dan Kendall and married him in September 2001. She also continued along her legal career path, becoming a corporate litigator at Jones Day, where she would work for nearly a decade. However, when her husband was hired by Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2003, the couple relocated to the Washington, D.C. area.
Kelly had began to question her choice of careers and, with help from a friend, she cut a TV news demo tape and began cold-calling station managers. She returned to her earlier ambitions to work as a journalist when the ABC News affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. hired her as a freelance assignment reporter. Kelly quickly established herself on the D.C. journalism scene by covering the 2004 elections and the Supreme Court nomination hearings for ABC.
That same year, she jumped to the national stage as a Washington correspondent for Fox News. It would prove to be an important step on her way to becoming one of the country’s most popular television journalists.
The National Stage
In 2006, Kelly and her husband divorced and Fox News sent her to New York City to co-anchor America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer. The show featured a segment called “Kelly’s Court,” during which she drew on her legal expertise to analyze news stories. In 2008, Kelly married Internet-security executive and novelist Douglas Brunt. In the coming years, the couple would have three children together: Yates, Yardley and Thatcher.
But motherhood would do nothing to slow Kelly’s progress, and in 2010, she was chosen to head the Fox News program America Live. On that show, Kelly established herself a competent anchor who was unafraid to challenge her guests with difficult questions. After taking maternity leave, Kelly returned to Fox to anchor the newly created Kelly File, during which she covered such major news events as the Boston Marathon Bombing, Sandy Hook elementary school shooting and the Duke University lacrosse rape case.
Donald Trump Debacle
Already a national name, Kelly achieved a new level of fame when she challenged presidential hopeful Donald Trump during the August 2015 GOP debate by asking him to explain sexist comments he had made about women in the past. Trump was outraged by her question, and after the debate, he infamously retaliated by calling Kelly “overrated,” as well as “crazy,” “angry” and “a bimbo.” He also went on CNN and said blood was coming out of her eyes and “blood coming out of her wherever.” Prior to this incident, Kelly said Trump had tried to woo her on multiple occasions for positive coverage of his campaign.
"This is actually one of the untold stories of the 2016 campaign,” Ms. Kelly writes in her book Settle for More. “I was not the only journalist to whom Trump offered gifts clearly meant to shape coverage. Many reporters have told me that Trump worked hard to offer them something fabulous — from hotel rooms to rides on his 757.”
Despite Trump's mistreatment of Kelly, Fox News did not come to her aid. In fact, CEO Roger Ailes had a friendly relationship with Trump. The two 70-something moguls would both be accused of sexual harassment from various women, and Kelly would eventually reveal that she, too, had been one of Ailes' victims, alongside Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson, who was the first woman to come out publicly against Ailes.
Move to NBC
During her tenure at Fox, Kelly raised eyebrows with her assertions about the “whiteness” of Jesus and Santa Claus and her rejection of the label "feminist," while also irking some of Fox’s typically conservative viewership with her vocal support of same-sex marriage. However, despite these controversies, Kelly became one of the most popular news journalists on television, surpassing Fox News colleague Bill O’Reilly's ranking among younger viewers. She was featured in cover stories for magazines such as Vanity Fair and Variety, and in 2014, TIME magazine included her on its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2016 she released her memoir Settle for More.
In January 2017, Kelly announced that she was leaving Fox to join NBC News to host her own daytime news program, anchor a Sunday night news show and contribute to the network's breaking news, political and special event coverage. Kelly posted about the move on Facebook: "Over a dozen years ago I started at Fox News in a job that would change my life. Now, I have decided to end my time at FNC, incredibly enriched for the experiences I've had."
'Megyn Kelly Today' and Blackface Controversy
NBC debuted the morning show Megyn Kelly Today in September 2017, but the host got off to a rocky start when early guest Jane Fonda chafed at a question about plastic surgery, and she never quite found her footing in her new home.
On October 23, 2018, Kelly made a controversial comment about people who wear blackface makeup on Halloween during Megyn Kelly Today. “What is racist?” she asked. “You truly do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on white face. ... That was okay when I was a kid, as long as you were dressing like a character.”
The comment quickly went viral and despite Kelly's apology, NBC canceled her show two days later. In January 2019, it was announced that the two sides had negotiated her departure from the network.
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