Megyn Kelly from FOX News has been having a really great year. She has won the accolades of her conservative peers, including network owner Roger Ailes, and has apparently won over some from the liberal contingent as well. She has been a voice of reason a few times since the first of the year. Her ratings for her Wednesday night show The Kelly File are through the roof. The New York Times labelled her a “breakthrough artist.” But despite all the good reviews for the woman who has been called the “savior of FOX News,” Megyn Kelly is really failing to be more than a token woman on FOX News.
Kelly is way more than a “blonde bombshell.” She is an educated woman who has had a great career both on and off the screen. She has a political science degree, a law degree and got herself hired by a network by sheer dint of determination and will. Her story is one that is admirable no matter what her politics and her success on FOX News is well deserved. She is a no nonsense host who is unafraid to go up against her own network on ideology.
That is one reason why liberal commentators are willing to give Kelly props. Moments like that with Dinesh D’Souza when he said President Obama was not really black because he did not have the “black experience.” Apparently because Obama is not related to slaves, he is not really black. The exchange between Kelly and D’Souza made its way to Jezebel, which made fun of the fact that Kelly actually sounded reasonable. “I am sharing thoughts with Megyn Kelly,” the writer notes in mock horror and honest surprise.
It is surprising because Kelly is one face on a network that has routinely accused Obama of not being “black enough.” That fact that she dared inject a little reason into what should have been a non-controversial claim for a FOX News pundit has surprised many. And it seems that she herself is really the force behind such an unusual move. The New York Times profile on her recounted the process she went through for hosting a guest who had directly contradicted the received FOX News opinion on Navy Seal Robert O’Neill. According to many, she is the real deal.
But is Megyn Kelly any more than just a token female host for the notoriously testosterone driven FOX News? Former ABC News anchor Brit Hume said of her that, “Attractive-looking blonde anchorwomen who speak with a fierce authority are rare,” a tribute to Kelly. Ailes himself has said of her, “She’s obviously a beautiful girl, beautiful woman and very intelligent, law degree, a lot of credentials there.” These two men know her value, though not in quite the way she might want.
Despite the apparent praise, it is hard to say that this is anything more than pandering. Ailes’ “beautiful girl” is insulting, as is the fact that he listed her looks before her considerable intelligence. Hume has done much the same thing in his quote by again noting her looks before her “authority,” something she has in spades. The fact is, both of these men have obviously made the judgment about her looks before the judgment about her intelligence and knowledge, something they would not do with a man. Both of them seem to have the idea that her looks were enough to hire her, not her brain.
The fact is that authoritative and intelligent women with a lot of credentials are not as rare as Hume or Ailes seem to think. They are, however, rare on FOX News.
Kelly does a good job in her role as anchor on FOX News, but that does not mean she is as revolutionary as the liberal media would like to think. She has surprised them by giving them small moments when they agree with her, but she is nothing more than a token to them. If she was valued for more than her face and her ability to bring in the ratings, then there would be more people like her on the network. Instead, FOX saw someone who could represent a subset of their audience and hired her to pander to women. To be clear, the failing to rise above tokenism is not Kelly’s fault. She is as smart and direct as the media says she is. The failing instead resides in her employer. She fills the role of token woman for FOX News because that is the role she was hired to fill.
Megyn Kelly deserves to be more than a failing token woman in the FOX News conservative spin machine. he has proven time and again that she is smarter than the men who surround her. She is, simply, smarter than the FOX News message. She has her faults, of course. The infamous “Santa is just white” moment was awful and hard to believe came from someone as educated as she is. But on the whole, she is a standout performance in a field that looks sadly like Kook Review. In the long run, all the praise for Megyn Kelly does her the disservice of failing to recognize the tokenism FOX News uses her for and the fact that she is so much better than that.
Opinion by Lydia Bradbury