Megyn Kelly is a trailblazer. Although her career is not entirely without controversy, no one can deny the fact: this woman has panache.
She’s known for her ability to clearly, concisely, and classily dismantle a faulty argument with such precision that the speaker barely realizes he’s been skewered before she’s flashed her winning smile, moved on to the next topic, and left him stammering to clean up his own slippery slope.
The “Megyn Moment” has come to define her career, and no guest, colleague, or president-elect is immune.
I love the Megyn Moment.
How often are women (especially women, and especially in the workplace) faced with some loud, overly confident boss or colleague who’s spouting assumptions as fact, or offensive rhetoric as their own version of the truth, and we’re left feeling steamrolled? Powerless to respond?
Watching Kelly take on those loud, overconfident people with her steel cold facts and utter command of any topic is like watching a liftoff at Cape Canaveral: it gives us hope for what we’re capable of. If Megyn can stay cool and collected in the face of such blustering opposition, maybe I can too, eh?
Tuesday, Kelly announced that she was leaving Fox for NBC. So, to commemorate this tectonic shift in our news landscape, I decided to compile a list. Megyn — can I call you Megyn? — these are my favorite moments of yours, and whatever network you call home, I hope you keep ‘em coming.
1 ) Defending Maternity Leave – When Kelly took time off after the birth of her second child, radio host Mike Gallagher took it upon himself to call such time off a ‘racket.’ Yeah, I know, most women carry and birth a human child as a scheme for some extra vacation days. And my dad probably threw himself off of that ladder so he could get paid leave for his surgery. What a racket, amirite?
Well, Kelly certainly didn’t think so. She invited Gallagher onto her show and proceeded to tear him a new one, speaking for angry (and tired) parents everywhere.
“The United States is the only advanced country that doesn’t require paid leave,” she rightly reminded him. “If anything, the United States is in the dark ages when it comes to maternity leave. And what is it about getting pregnant and carrying a baby nine months that you don’t think deserves a few months off so bonding and recovery can take place? Hmm?”
Watch him awkwardly backtrack here:
2 ) Defending Working Women – If you think her vehement defense of maternity leave means she has any kind of problem with working women, you’d be mistaken. You’d also be kind of ignorant, as I think it’s safe to assume she’s probably the breadwinner in her own family (being one of the highest-paid news anchors in the world and all). So when Lou Dobbs and Erick Erickson decided it was ‘science’ that working moms are detrimental to their children, she had those two on her show and politely asked, “Who died and made you head scientist?”
She literally opens with that. It’s glorious. Watch the clip below, and observe how time and time again both Dobbs and Erickson try and make a faulty leap of reasoning — specifically, that single working mothers are the same as a two-parent family with a working mother and a stay-at-home dad — and observe how, when most of us might have pulled our hair out at that lack of logic combined with their annoying condescension (at one point, Dobbs actually says “Okay, Ms. Dominant!” with a chuckle), Kelly doesn’t budge. She presses on with class, intelligence, and not a shadow of self-doubt. If only we could all stand up to faux science so boldly.
3 ) Calling Out The Awkward — Speaking of faulty logic, do you ever have that colleague who simply won’t respond to actual facts? Like, no matter how many charts you make showing them their sales are down, they’re sure it must be Gina-in-accounting’s problem? Well, sometimes you just have to walk away — and let them flail. And that’s exactly what Megyn Kelly did in 2012. When Barack Obama secured Ohio’s votes over Mitt Romney, and therefore effectively won the election, Karl Rove kept insisting there must be some mistake — there was no way — that it wasn’t over yet! You can hear Kelly in the background, a la Jim from the Office, laughing and quietly declaring, “That’s awkward.” She later asked Rove, “Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better, or is this real?”
Sometimes you have to let them make their own mistakes.
4 ) Keeping Her Cool – Every once in a while, one of these guys decides it’s their turn to ambush her, and let me tell you, this never goes well for them. She’s just too unruffled. You try and flip that ‘Megyn Moment’ back on her, and you will not leave that conversation looking intelligent. My favorite example of this is an exchange that might still be fresh in your mind: when Newt Gingrich, on air, angrily accused her of being ‘obsessed with sex’ last fall, Kelly wasn’t bothered one bit. “Me? Really?” she laughs. But because she’s asked Newt about the sexual assault accusations against his candidate, he gets so furious he literally shoves his finger at us — which makes me wonder what that experience was like for him, because wasn’t he talking into a camera? “I think your defensiveness may speak volumes,” she calmly interjects. She closes by suggesting that he work on his “anger issues,” and it is priceless.
5 ) Facing Rejection – Okay, so, this isn’t technically a “Megyn Moment,” as she wasn’t on the air debating or anything, but in spirit what I’m about to tell you is just as awe-inspiring. A little-known fact about Kelly is that she was rejected from the communications program at Syracuse. She wanted to go into reporting, so she applied to that well-respected program — and she failed. The irony there is practically historic, but the beauty is this: she didn’t quit. Megyn Kelly was rejected from a communications program. And she (obviously) didn’t quit! Instead, she studied political science, then went to law school — a background which no doubt has had a hugely positive influence on her career trajectory, and ultimately may serve her better than a communications degree. Because now…well, now she’s one of the most well-known, highest paid news anchors around. If that doesn’t inspire you to believe in yourself in the face of rejection, then maybe you should reread it.
Thanks for a great run at Fox News, Megyn. Now: let’s all go make some moments of our own, shall we?