7 Things to Know About Megyn Kelly, the Woman Who Terrifies Donald Trump
Fox News host Megyn Kelly made headlines worldwide in August when, acting as moderator for the first Republican debate, she kicked off the evening by confronting Donald Trump about his sexism. Kelly’s boldness ignited the infamous "bleeding out of wherever" comment from the presidential candidate, and prompted rabid Trump supporters to direct a barrage of abuse and death threats in her direction.
Things still haven’t cooled off—now, Trump is planning to skip the next debate because she’ll be moderating again.
Here are 7 things to know about the spitfire who scares the pants off of Donald Trump.
1. She Won't Call Herself a Feminist, but She Does Believe in Gender Equality
Megyn Kelly won’t call herself a feminist (to do so would likely be incompatible with working at Fox News), and she keeps her views on issues like abortion completely private. According to an in-depth profile by Vanity Fair, Kelly believes that her accomplishments speak for themselves and her gender is irrelevant—she told the magazine that her role model is Oprah Winfrey because “she didn’t play the gender card and she didn’t play the race card. She was just so good we couldn’t ignore her.”
“But,” Kelly added, “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.”
And she has a history of doing exactly that—since long before the rise of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. In 2013, for example, after a male Fox News contributor complained that women being primary breadwinners in a household was a perversion of the “natural order” in which male animals are dominant and female animals are submissive, she invited them on her show and asked, “What makes you dominant and me submissive, and who died and made you scientist-in-chief? … I’ve got a list of studies here that say your science is wrong.”
2. She Was a Successful Lawyer
When Kelly applied to the communications program at Syracuse University with hopes of being a journalist, she was rejected, so she majored in political science instead, according to Vanity Fair. From there she went onto law school and became a successful trial lawyer at a prestigious law firm. Vanity Fair reports that Kelly “Was on her way to making partner when she realized she wasn’t fulfilled.”
At age 33, she shot a demo tape and began sending it to news outlets, including Fox News, where she was soon brought on as a reporter.
3. She’s a Mom, and Is Protective of the Moms Who Work for Her
Kelly’s first husband was a doctor. She’s now married to successful novelist Doug Brunt, with whom she has three kids: sons Thatcher and Yates, and daughter Yardley.
Vanity Fairreports that on her show, The Kelly File, “Her team is made up mainly of women, many of whom are pregnant or have just had a baby.” And Kelly told the magazine, “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.’ 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.”
4. She’s Not Afraid to Shut Down Sexism Across Party Lines
In addition to regularly trolling liberals and famously taking down Trump, Kelly also has a penchant for putting conservative “blow-hards” in their places.
For example, during one of her regular appearances on The O’Reilly Factor, she once told Bill, “You have a penchant for that term ‘calm down’ [to women]…. It’s patronizing.” And in a recent interview with Jeb Bush, she made yet another presidential candidate squirm by asking why he hadn’t yet dropped out of the race despite being so far behind in the polls and saying it looked like he didn’t know how to deal with attacks from Trump.
And then there was that time in 2012, when it was being reported that Obama had won the election but Karl Rove claimed that Romney could still win based on the numbers in Ohio, Kelly famously asked him, “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better or is this real?”
5. She’s Pals with Sheryl Sandberg, but Takes Issue with Gloria Steinem
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook C.O.O. and Lean In author, became friends with Kelly after admiring her prowess and inviting her to Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, according to Vanity Fair. “Megyn speaks truth to power,” Sandberg told the magazine. “She’s tough, fair, and relentlessly brave.”
Kelly claims that issues like equal pay and reproductive rights—which many feminist activists, including Gloria Steinem, view as critical in the fight for equality—actually divide women. “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 asked Vanity Fair. “It’s like some of these things are anathema—if you say them, you get booted out of the feminist club…Gloria Steinem doesn’t get to kick those other women out of the feminist club or the female-empowerment club, because she says so!”
6. She’s Pretty Much Been Running the Show Since She Was a Kid
Vanity Fair wrote that “Kelly, who was raised in Syracuse and a suburb of Albany, New York, the third child of a nurse and an education professor, fairly arrived on this earth the Queen Bee.”
She told the magazine that when she was in middle school, she could remember overhearing the moms at a party discussing the kids referring to her as the clear “leader of the group,” and that in high school, she embraced public speaking and discovered that she got a rush from addressing a crowd.
7. She Was Secretly “Violently Ill” During the First Republican Debate
Vanity Fair reported that on the morning of the debate, Kelly got “violently ill,” and was still so sick by the evening that she moderated the debate “with a blanket over her legs and a bucket to throw up in by her side.”
She told the magazine that she never even considered sitting it out. “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.”
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