I was in Megyn Kelly’s audience this week. She is not a bad person.
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I was in the studio audience of Megyn Kelly Today on Monday – exactly 24 hours before she made the controversial comments that may have ended her show.
A few years ago I met Megyn at an event in Park City. She was very nice, agreed to take a selfie with me and offered some good advice about working in television news (“Work your tail off!).
I’ve read her book, Settle for More, and occasionally watched both her Fox News and NBC shows.
This week, a friend and I were in New York City for the National Edward R. Murrow Awards. Because we both work in media, we decided to go watch a live talk show. We walked into Rockefeller Center at 7:30 a.m. and everyone on Megyn’s staff was so friendly.
As we waited for the show to begin, Alex Ficquette, the audience producer, interviewed folks who were celebrating a special occasion. I told him that my nine-month pregnant wife, Erica, could have our baby any moment and jokingly said that if she went into the labor during the show, we’d name our child Kelly. Alex gave my friend and me VIP seats and said if there were time at the end of the show, he’d give Erica a shout-out.
There were women of all ages and races (and a few men) in the crowd. They were chatting, laughing, hugging each other and having a good time.
An audience member from Utah shared that a few years ago she was a newly divorced young mother living in her car when she picked up Settle For More. As her voice choked with emotion, this visitor said Megyn inspired her to start a business and she is now making six figures.
We were ushered into the studio and, even though I’ve worked in local news for years, it was fascinating to watch a live national television show from behind-the-scenes.
What struck me was how kind Megyn and her staff were to everyone. From the comedian who warmed up the audience to the ushers to Alex – they all made us feel like we were an important part of the production.
When the show was over, I expected Megyn to say goodbye and leave. I attended another talk show a few years ago and that’s exactly what the host did. But Megyn stuck around and talked, joked and told stories while her crew set up Halloween props for an upcoming segment.
I raised my hand and asked what she’s learned since moving from an evening show at Fox News to an NBC morning show.
“That’s an interesting question,” Megyn said before sharing an experience that occurred just a few nights earlier. She was lying in bed with her three children as they each talked about what they had done that day. That same scene had played out every night for nearly two years since Megyn left her evening show. She said she would have missed all of those tender moments had she not moved to mornings.
That most important thing she had learned was being there for what was most important.
After shooting the Halloween segment, Megyn said she would take a few more questions.
Someone asked what kind of lipstick she was wearing. The host summoned her stylist to answer the question and admitted she’d be a “hot mess” without her hair and makeup crew.
After talking with us for nearly an hour, Megyn thanked everyone for coming. We made our way out of the studio and heard a few audience members tell the staff that they would see them the next day. We asked one of the women, Pat, how often she comes to the show.
She explained that she and a group of women (who met at Megyn Kelly Today) have been there nearly every day since the show launched. They love Megyn, the employees and “everyone feels like family.”
Throughout the morning, Alex, and several audience members, asked me for an update.
“Has your wife had the baby?”
“Tell her we’re thinking of her!”
“Congratulations to the both of you!”
Pat even gave me a business card and asked me to send her a photo once our son arrives.
The next day, Megyn’s comments about blackface quickly drew outrage from across the country. Fighting back tears, she apologized Wednesday morning but within hours it was reported that her show would be ending. Ratings, money and other factors are likely playing into the decision to cancel the program.
I understand that comments have consequences. But it was obvious Megyn feels remorse for what she said and is sorry. She is not a bad person.
The truth is that her show has been under extreme scrutiny since it began – probably because she previously worked at Fox News. There have been endless stories with wild rumors quoting unnamed sources that are hurtful and likely untrue. Why is it that much of the media seems to obsess over taking down successful women — especially if their opinions aren’t in line with the “popular” viewpoint of the day?
Following her emotional on-air apology this week, Megyn Kelly’s audience stood up, clapped and cheered. One camera shot showed a black woman yelling, “We love you!” as another blew kisses toward the host. She was clearly moved.
Megyn Kelly Today may be over but Megyn Kelly is not. She has support from many across the country and I believe she will emerge stronger and wiser in whatever comes next.