Megyn Kelly is less than one month into her new role at NBC News, and much of the glowing national media coverage that she enjoyed as a star at Fox News has suddenly dimmed.
On Tuesday, Kelly released a statement responding to critics, many of them in the media, who disapproved of her upcoming interview with right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
“I find Alex Jones’ suggestion that Sandy Hook was ‘a hoax’ as personally revolting as every other rational person,” Kelly said in the statement, which came hours after organizers for a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting memorial disinvited her from the event.
Jones is a radio and Internet personality with millions of fans who has promoted conspiracy theories related to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, which he has said was put on by “actors.”
Though Kelly had become a darling of the mainstream press as a Fox News personality who often veered from the network’s conservative brand, the Jones incident is just the latest example of how coverage of her work isn’t as sunny as it once was.
“The signs about Megyn Kelly’s one-on-one NBC interview with the despicable conspiracy theorist Alex Jones have been bad from the start,” wrote Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan on Tuesday.
“And then there’s Kelly’s unimpressive track record in interviewing hard-to-pin-down subjects — most recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who simply steamrollered her, and last year, when she was still at Fox News, her much-hyped ‘meh’ of an interview with Trump, a broadcast that she concluded by promoting her autobiographical book,” Sullivan added.
Following her interview with Putin, Los Angeles Times TV critic Lorraine Ali called Kelly “not a great interviewer” for failing to pin her subject down on questions about Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.
A write-up in the New York Newsday tabloid also called Kelly’s interview with Putin a “rough start.”
During her time at Fox, Kelly earned positive profiles in big publications that most of Fox’s marquee names weren’t afforded.
In January, the New York Times favorably described what it called the “Megyn Kelly Moment,” which are the often viral interview bits where Kelly would confront an unsuspecting (and often conservative or Republican) guest with a biting question.
In 2016, Vanity Fair in a cover story called Kelly “the brightest start at Fox News” and “a newly minted role model for women.”
But at least for now, the bottom appears to have fallen out following the publicity for her to-be-aired interview with Jones.
“Kelly is a rank amateur when it comes to the art of the sit-down,” said a review at the Daily Beast website.
The Chicago Tribune’s women’s issues said the interview “feels like a cynical, callous ratings grab.”
Despite her retracted invitation to the Sandy Hook memorial and even a petition calling for NBC to pull the interview, it is still scheduled to air.
In her statement defending the interview, Kelly said, “Our goal in sitting down with him was to shine a light — as journalists are supposed to do — on this influential figure.”