Fox News host Megyn Kelly opens up about her rise to stardom in a lengthy cover feature for Vanity Fair’s January 2016 issue.
In a profile titled, “Blowhards, Beware: Megyn Kelly Will Slay You Now,” the magazine chronicles Kelly’s transition from lawyer to Fox News’ undeniable star, taking note of the many times she’s skewered male Republicans, from Karl Rove to Donald Trump.
Below are five takeaways from the wide-ranging interview.
1. She’s not a feminist, but…
Kelly refuses to engage in battles over women’s issues, such as equal wages.
“Why can’t there be an acknowledgment that, in some instances, women remove themselves from the workforce for a long time and when they come back of course they’re not going to get exactly equal pay?” she said.
However, the article points out, she surrounds herself with a mostly female team, and she encourages them to come to her if they have trouble balancing work and personal life.
“I’ve said to all of them, ‘If you feel overwhelmed, please come and talk to me and let’s try to find a solution,'” she said. “I don’t want all the young mothers to be driven off the show because they feel they have to choose between devotion to the show and devotion to their child.”
2. Oprah Winfrey is her role model
“In all her years coming up … she never wallowed in any sort of victimhood … She didn’t play the gender card and she didn’t play the race card,” said Kelly. “She was just so good we couldn’t ignore her. That’s my example … Just get to the table and then do better than everybody else. But every so often, as all [women] know, you have to stop and slap somebody around a little bit who doesn’t understand that we are actually equals and not second-class citizens.”
She would also like to do more lengthy interviews like those conducted by Winfrey and Charlie Rose in her future.
“Charlie Rose does it, and he does it very well. But that doesn’t mean nobody else can do it,” she said. “I think that there’s a spiritual component to my personality that is completely unutilized in my current job.”
3. She honed her sense of humor under Bill O’Reilly.
Kelly said a colleague at Fox News — whom she refuses to name — tried to talk her out of trying to be funny on the air. But she trusted the big boss, Roger Ailes, who told her not to try to be so perfect all the time instead.
To that end, she gained a following and honed her style during weekly appearances on “The O’Reilly Factor,” with VF’s writer describing the schtick as “sassy daughter takes on cranky dad.”
“I’ve told him many times on the air, ‘You’re arguing with your heart and not with your head,'” said Kelly.
4. Donald Trump tried to woo her
Kelly believes it was all for professional, strategic purposes, but the Republican presidential candidate didn’t exactly make his intentions of his overtures clear.
At some point before he announced he was running for President, Kelly said Trump “would send me press clippings about me that he would just sign ‘Donald Trump.’ And he called from time to time to compliment a segment. I didn’t know why he was doing that. And then when he announced that he was running for president, it became more clear. But I can’t be wooed. I was never going to love him, and I was never going to hate him.”
5. She was not going to miss that first debate for anything
Kelly was seriously ill during the now infamous first Republican presidential debate, when she skewered Trump with a scathing question about accusations of sexism right off the bat.
“I would have crawled over a pile of hot coals to make it to that debate,” she said. “No one was going to be sitting in for me, reading my questions. And I can say with confidence that neither [co-moderators] Bret [Baier] nor Chris [Wallace] wanted to read my questions — for many reasons!”
She got through the debate with a blanket over her lap and a barf bucket by her side, and she meticulously prepared for the inevitable backlash by making sure all her facts were inscrutable.
“I wrote it. I researched each line item myself,” she said of her opening question to Trump. “It was interesting to me after the debate when people started fact-checking my question. My own reaction was ‘Bring it on.’ You think I’d go out there and ask a question like that at the first G.O.P. debate without making sure I was bulletproof on every single word?”
Kelly currently hosts “The Kelly File” nightly on Fox News.