Megyn Kelly Attacks "Messed Up" Trump-Era Media on 'Real Time'

Megyn Kelly speaks onstage at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit 2018 - Getty -H 2019
Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

The former Fox News and NBC anchor also discussed her portrayal in 'Bombshell' and activism on social media: "The country's going through something right now."

Megyn Kelly criticized a polarized media landscape in the Trump era in a rare television appearance on Friday.

In her first appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher, the former Megyn Kelly Today anchor brushed away host Maher's suggestions that she might miss reporting the news each day, though she added, "I miss being a voice of reason in the storm because there's so much hysteria in the media, for and against [Trump]."

Kelly returned to the subject later, saying, "The media's so messed up right now, it's disheartening. It's not just about Trump. He says they're 'the enemy of the people,' and I know why he says it."

When she then called the media "biased," Maher challenged her assertion, noting that she had worked for right-leaning network Fox News. Kelly responded that Fox News brought balance to the rest of media: "Fox was born and did so well because ... the rest of the media was biased to the left," she said. 

After Maher countered that the media was biased toward "money," Kelly took the example of CNN, which she said she used to watch while she worked at Fox News: "My view is CNN became the things Trump said they were and weren't and now they are. They're basically indistinguishable from NBC."

If you cover President Trump responsibly, Maher argued, "you're going to look left-leaning." In response, Kelly launched into a personal anecdote, saying that while she was at NBC and Trump attacked her frequently, "it took everything to go on the set and not take it personally." She added, "You just have to remember it's not about you, it's about the audience and the truth."

Maher and Kelly also took on "cancel culture." (Kelly parted ways with NBC following controversial remarks about blackface, while Bill Maher didn't have his contract renewed at ABC in 2003 following his own remarks about 9/11.) "My own take on it is the country's going through something right now. Marginalized people are rising up and trying to find positions at the table. The difference is, how do you do it?" Kelly said. As a woman, she said she in part understood that experience. "Do we do it with grace and humanity and understanding that people make mistakes? … We can't expect a perfect score of any person." 

She later added that younger generations have always enlightened older generations but that "canceling" older mindsets went too far. "If that was the case, we wouldn't have had an Obama second term," she said, noting that former President Barack Obama wasn't initially in support of gay marriage. "I think we have to come to a place where we talk to each other again."

At another point in the interview, Maher brought up the Lionsgate film Bombshell, about the female Fox News employees who alleged sexual harassment and misconduct on the part of late former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes and helped end his career, in which Charlize Theron plays Kelly. Kelly has responded to the film on her Instagram, saying watching the film was an "emotional experience" and admitting that she executed the notorious "twirl" that Ailes often asked female employees to perform.

"The thing about the twirl is, it isn't about seeing your ass, it's about demeaning you, it's about subjugation, it's about, 'Can I control you?'" she said.

After Maher noted that Kelly's character came off well in the movie, Kelly added, "My takeaway on it is the movie was a force for good because it helped shine a light on how it's done."