This morning, Megyn Kelly—formerly of Fox, but of course, after her breakout 2016, you probably know that—began her debut hosting an hour of the Today show. She talked to the stars of Will and Grace, as well as fellow Today anchor Kathie Lee Gifford, but all their charm combined apparently wasn’t enough to save her from rough initial reviews. And the big question everyone seems to have is: Why are we pretending that the conservative anchor who famously once insisted that Santa Claus was white isn’t political?
Consider how harsh this review of her initial performance was: “The debut was like watching a network try to assemble its own Bride of Frankenstein, using parts of Ellen DeGeneres, Kelly Ripa and whatever else it can find. The resultant lovely creature, dressed in a mauve, pussy-bow blouse and skintight pants, moved stiffly and waved her arms around in broad gestures in a bizarre attempt to generate excitement from an audience that was already standing and cheering as duly instructed. She interviewed people nervously and so awkwardly that they were cowed into giving monosyllabic answers. She also never missed an opportunity to talk about herself.”
That’s not from a blog. That’s from The Washington Post. Time, CNN, and even USA Today had similar reservations.
The big issue is that it might actually be impossible to be apolitical these days. At one point, Kelly asked an audience member, “Is it true you became a lawyer and gay because of Will & Grace?” (As the Post points out, the cast of the show also could not talk about a plot point in the revival involving the Trump administration.)
She also interviewed a white nun working to prevent gun violence on the south side of Chicago, which she called “like a war zone,” according to USA Today‘s review. “Chicago’s gun violence is another issue that’s been politicized, particularly by President Trump, but her focus is on the feel-good aspect of the nun’s ‘Peace Garden,’ and her efforts to bring the mothers of violence victims and perpetrators together. While that serves its own purpose, it doesn’t make the issue entirely apolitical.”
In a revealing interview with Elle, in advance of the episode, Megyn Kelly “stands up and turns toward the door” when the journalist asks her about the president’s treatment of ESPN journalist Jemele Hill. It’s not hard to see how Kelly’s avoidance of “politics” is its own political stance.
Of course, it’s only the premiere episode. Kelly will probably become more natural in her role as the show goes on. But many people feel that if you exist in the world, your existence itself is political. A lot to think about, right?
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