Media critics pounced on Fox News host Megyn Kelly over the weekend over what they called a “very softball” interview of Donald Trump on the Fox television network.
In Kelly’s first interview with Trump since the debate dispute that left him calling her a “bimbo” and worse, the Fox News host had decided to go easy on the billionaire instead of pressing him about his qualifications to be president.
And when Kelly’s brand of journalism was called into question by critics like The Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah, she deflected, firing back that he had no right to “advise on how to deal w/gender attacks.”
On Sunday, Poynter Chief Media Writer Jim Warren told CNN’s Brian Stelter that Kelly could not be “allergic to criticism” while aspiring to be a journalist like Barbara Walters or Oprah Winfrey.
“You just can’t subsume the news cycle to your own professional career goals,” he argued. “You can’t be in the heat of the campaign — and in some ways sort of central to some of the issues of the campaign — and then say you’re going to do some soft focus interview,” Warren explained. “This is not like Edward R. Murrow doing celebrity interviews with Marilyn Monroe.”
Warren compared it to other media personalities who had transformed their animus “into mutual commercial benefit.”
Los Angeles Times Television Critic Mary McNamara noted that Kelly had promised that “nothing’s off the table” in her interview with Trump.
“When the interview occurred, it felt like everything was off the table,” McNamara said. “She had this incredibly rare opportunity where she came out of those debates perceived as this very tough, willing to ask really hard questions. So I think people anticipated that same level of toughness.”
“And instead, we got very softball, ‘When did you realize that you were going to be president?'” she continued. “And even when she was addressing the issue…. he got into, ‘Well, I never called you anything.’ She did call him on, ‘Well, you did retweet tweets about me being a bimbo.’ And he said, ‘Well, that’s not the worst thing you’ve been called.'”
“So that’s the level for a presidential candidate?” McNamara asked. “‘I’m not going to retweet things in which you’re being called profane names.’ But she didn’t press him on that.”
But Warren concluded that the stunt was a “big career boost for Kelly despite her suspension of her supposedly-great news judgement.”
Watch the video below from CNN’s Reliable Sources, broadcast May 22, 2016.