She’s back and unbridled: Megyn Kelly says nothing is off-limits now
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Megyn Kelly is back.
The former Fox News journalist and NBC talk show host is launching a new media company complete with “The Megyn Kelly Show,” a podcast that has already ranked No. 1 in the news commentary category on the Apple charts and No. 7 in overall podcasts. Guests have included Adam Carolla, Mark Cuban, Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro.
Kelly had the top show in her time slot while working at Fox News and surprised many when she jumped to NBC News in 2017 to host “Megyn Kelly Today.” The show was canceled a year later after Kelly had an on-air discussion about wearing blackface as part of a Halloween costume. She apologized for her comments but ended up parting ways with the network.
Since her exit, Kelly has been quietly planning her next move while maintaining a relatively low profile. She spoke with EastIdahoNews.com reporter Nate Eaton this week to discuss what’s next, what she’s learned over the past two years, how she handles the haters and whether she would end up moving from New York City to our part of the country.
Here is a lightly edited transcript of our interview.
NATE EATON, EASTIDAHONEWS.COM: There are tens of thousands of podcasts on the market today. What makes yours different, and why should people in eastern Idaho listen?
MEGYN KELLY: I think I have a unique approach to delivering the news. I understand how to do it so that it’s informative but also entertaining. The listener is having fun, learning and walking away knowing what’s happening in the country but not having to work too hard for it.
I also think what’s different with me now versus the past several years is I’m unbridled. I don’t have to answer to anyone other than myself, my conscience and my audience. That’s enabled me to go places where I otherwise couldn’t go. I own the show. I don’t have to worry about criticizing President Trump or defending President Trump. I own the show.
All I have to worry about is sticking to the truth. I’ve always done that, but now, there’s no subject that’s off-limits. There are no third rails in terms of our discussions, and while I can’t say I’m the only show who has that rule, I think I’m the only one who approaches these discussions in a certain kind of way. So people who enjoy the way I deliver the news will find the discussions I’m having about some of these issues really compelling.
EATON: Who would you like to interview on your podcast, and is there anyone you won’t have on?
KELLY: I would love to interview Joe Rogan because he’s the podcasting god and I could use his advice and counsel on what works and what doesn’t. He’s just interviewed so many interesting people, and I think it’s given him a really interesting perspective. I think he’d be fascinating to talk to.
Is there anyone I wouldn’t put on? Well, I’ve had an internal debate, and actually an external debate with some of my friends, about some of the men who have gone down in the Me Too movement. I don’t know if I would have Harvey Weinstein on. I’ve actually spoken to some of Harvey’s victims about that. Would it be a good idea? Because why are you giving him a platform? But other women have said to me they would love to hear me hold him to account.
I think I would dislike him too much, and it would show, which wouldn’t make for a great interview.
EATON: In addition to launching a podcast, you’ve created your own company called Devil May Care Media. What does that name mean, and how did you come up with it?
KELLY: I wanted something that would tip the hat to where I am in the media spectrum. The whole saying is ‘The devil may care, but I do not.’ What I’m trying to telegraph is nobody’s going to tell me what to say anymore because I don’t care. If you don’t like it, I don’t really care. You don’t have to listen. Go find another podcast.
You want to hear an open, free exchange of ideas that may rattle you, excite you, upset you? Hop aboard. You’ll learn, you’ll grow, you’ll become resilient, you’ll leave smarter. If you’re looking for a safe space, you should keep looking. This will not be it.
I no longer care if someone’s going to say they’re offended. Too bad. Life is full of that. You have to get used to it. That’s how you develop a tough skin. That’s what I’m looking to do.
I don’t really need to kowtow to anybody in terms of my story selection or the product our company puts out. If we wind up making films or television shows, and they don’t happen to please the left-wing press, too bad. I’m done apologizing to them, and I think most people are sick of being scolded for what are mainstream views but what are treated as extreme views when it comes to a lot of the social issues we’re all discussing.
EATON: Speaking of the media, how do you not let the vicious reports, particularly on social media, get in your head and affect you personally?
KELLY: I read a great quote once that Maya Angelou said to Oprah Winfrey when she had her show and was in the tabloids. Oprah went to Maya for advice, and Maya said, pointing to the tabloids, “You’re not in there. You’re not in there.” That’s how I look at the media coverage of me.
I’m not in there. That’s not me. I don’t know who they’re talking about, but it’s not me. It’s someone working out their own issues about me. I never feel like I have to do any persuading on media coverage because people who know me, who enjoy watching the news when I do it – they know who I am. They have no problem with anything I’ve done or said.
We may have small dustups here and there, or they didn’t like this or that, but they can’t be persuaded by some negative hit piece in the Washington Post or a tabloid. And the people who want to believe these awful things about me are not persuadable. So why bother?
I don’t define myself by their opinions, and I really don’t pay attention to the negativity. It’s not good for one’s soul, so I try to avoid it.
EATON: That can be difficult, especially when everyone seems to have an opinion and “keyboard warriors” have no problem letting you know what they think.
KELLY: People get bullied, or awful things are said about them, but invariably the people who are saying awful things that you know aren’t true are working out their own issues. There’s something about you, usually, that makes them feel “less than,” and the more slings and arrows they can throw at you, the better they feel.
What could you possibly say to that person to dissuade them from doing it, and why would you bother? A lot of people grow up unhappy. A lot of people have anger issues, and the internet has become a forum for them to try and work it out. That doesn’t mean you need to engage and doesn’t mean you need to put any of your emotional currency there.
You should be directing all of your energies to positive sources in your life, whether it’s your family or your friends or music lessons or a play that you want to go see. That’s where your energy needs to be. Half the battle in this awful social media world is pulling yourself out of that awfulness. Pull yourself out, shut your computer down, put the iPhone down and redirect yourself to something that’s better for you.
EATON: Do you have any regrets about moving from Fox News to NBC? Any regrets about your NBC show?
KELLY: I wouldn’t say regrets. I don’t really have regrets in my life – it’s just not how I’m built. I have zero regrets about leaving Fox, I can tell you that for sure. That’s not a comment on Fox, but what I mean is I was desperately unhappy. I was not living a life with any joy. I never saw my children Monday through Friday all day long. I never saw them. And they were babes – 3, 5 and 7 – when I left Fox, and it had been three years of that.
I was desperate to be with them, and couldn’t see signing another deal for any amount of money that would have kept me away from them for another three years.
Plus, things were stressful at work too. I definitely lost friends at Fox after I didn’t support Roger Ailes (after allegations of sexual assault were made by multiple women), and the year of Trump attacking me cost me some friends inside the building. They thought I needed to be more pro-Trump on the air.
I was neutral on Trump. I wasn’t anti-Trump or pro-Trump. There were some people that were partisan who wanted me to be a Trump cheerleader, which I wasn’t and am not and won’t be because it’s not my job as a journalist.
It was not a happy situation for me, so I don’t regret leaving. Clearly, NBC was not the place for me. I really needed to think that through more than I did, but I also had some wonderful experiences there.
Most people think of just the ending and think it must have been awful, and certainly I received a lot of negative press coverage, but I made some dear friends. I completely fell in love with my in-studio audience, and my home audience was great to me. We had a lot of emotional moments on that show where we grew, we cried and we broke through on some things. For me, it was quite healing emotionally, which makes it ironic that it ended in such an awful, emotional experience for me.
I can’t say I regret it, but I certainly don’t think NBC was the place for me.
EATON: You mention your in-studio audience. I was in New York for work two years ago this month and visited your show with a friend. My 9-month pregnant wife home in Idaho, and I jokingly told one of your producers that if the baby came during the show, we would name him Kelly. The producer told the audience, and throughout the taping, other audience members would say, “Is the baby here? How’s your wife?” One woman named Pat gave me her card and told me to send her a photo when the baby arrived. She told me there was a group of regulars who came to your show every day and they were like family.
KELLY: They were, and it was meant so much to me. The thing I regret the most when I left NBC is that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to my audience — all of my audience but especially my in-studio audience, who I really came to love.
There is one woman I’ll never forget. She told me this story on how she was kind of listless in her life and didn’t know what to do. She didn’t think anything great was going to happen to her, and, long story short, she read my book. She decided to apply to med schools that had her particular specialty. She got in, and she had been coming to our show every single day for almost a year. One day she raised her hand and wanted to tell us that she wasn’t going to be there come Monday because she was leaving after having gotten into med school. It was such an emotional moment, and there were so many moments like that. I hated that I never got to hug them goodbye.
I feel like they’re still with me. I can almost feel their positive vibes. We all sort of had this crazy shared experience over a year where, to be honest, I think a lot of us were going through something and the show was a form of therapy.
EATON: What’s the No. 1 thing you’ve learned over the past two years?
KELLY: You can’t build your superhero muscles unless you get super hard things thrown your way. I think one of the reasons why the negativity of the media no longer bothers me is because they’ve already said all the worst things you could possibly say about me. They’ve fired these bullets and I’m still here, and I’m fine.
One advantage of having been attacked so often is it stops affecting you and what’s really important to me is now better than ever. My husband, my kids, my friends – they’re all stronger than ever. As a result, those are my superhuman muscles – my relationships, my friendships, my children. Those are the things that make me feel strong because, God willing, those are the things that are going to stay with me. I really know that now on an inherent level, and once you really know it, it can’t be taken away from you.
EATON: I can no longer watch any of the cable news channels in the evenings. A lot of people don’t trust what they’re hearing anywhere. Can cable news ever be repaired?
KELLY: No. They can’t be repaired. I think it’s over. Journalism is dead, and it wasn’t murdered by Trump. It was a suicide, but he was their Kevorkian. They completely sacrificed all credibility and objectivity, and now it’s just partisans arguing their point of view which, by the way, makes it far less interesting.
I think once Trump leaves office, whether it’s in four months or four years, the ratings are going to crash because one thing you can’t say about Trump is he’s not interesting on television. He is. He saved MSNBC, he saved The New York Times, he saved CNN. He didn’t save Fox but certainly helped inflate their numbers to a level they’d never seen before.
I don’t think there is any coming back because their credibility is gone, and once it’s gone, it’s almost impossible to regain. My prediction for the future is the relationships will no longer be with channels, they will be with individuals and personalities who you trust. This is why I think digital media is going to play such a big role.
You won’t be saying, “I watch Fox News,” you’ll be saying, “I listen to Megyn” or “I listen to this person.” You can create direct relationships with hosts whose new products you don’t have to wait for. You can have it on demand on any given issue of the day, and you don’t have to sit through all the BS. Ideally, if you’re coming to me, it’s because you don’t want BS and you don’t want spin. You want somebody to tell you what the actual facts are, and if there’s spin, it’s identified as spin so you know this is an opinion. I think the future is in individual relationships as opposed to reliance on the traditional legacy media.
EATON: You’ve spent some time in Montana over the years. Have you ever been to Idaho?
KELLY: I’m sorry to say I haven’t, but it’s on my list of places to go because I hear a lot of folks in Montana talking about how beautiful Idaho is. I love that area of the country both because of its natural beauty and because of the no-nonsense attitude of the folks who live there.
I’ve never met somebody from that area of the country who didn’t have just basic common sense. They don’t get upset over nonsense, they have a good perspective on life, they’re pretty open-minded and forgiving toward others, and they don’t carry grudges around over stupid things. They just have their priorities straight.
I have to say I live on the Upper West Side of New York City and cannot say the same about my neighborhood.
EATON: Do you think you’d ever leave New York City and move to this part of the country?
KELLY: Absolutely I think I would. Doug (husband) and I talk about it all the time. We would love to raise our kids in a place that’s more sensible and not inconsistent with our values in virtually every way.
The battle of fighting identity politics that gets shoved down their throats at school is exhausting, and it’s not who we are, and it’s not who we want our kids to be. I’d much rather be in a town where it wasn’t such a battle.
I love that area. We’ve been spending aver two months a year in Montana and every time we go out, Doug and I have the talk about how to make (a move) happen.
EATON: Finally, I’ve saved my hardest question for last. What’s your favorite way to have a potato?
KELLY: I’m gonna have to say french fries, but a close second is twice baked. It’s tough to really pick one but if I have to, I’ll say french fries.