With all of the recent concern over the media’s role in Donald Trump’s political ascendancy, it’s no surprise that the latest person to weigh in on the issue is a member of the media who so frequently spars with the GOP frontrunner.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly told Yahoo’s (YHOO) Katie Couric in an interview on Wednesday that she believes the media has aided Trump’s rise, to some extent, by affording more airtime to his campaign than to other candidates. One recent estimate showed that Trump has received nearly $2 billion-worth of free media coverage, as Donald Trump has been a ratings bonanza for TV news, (In fact, CBS’ chief Les Moonves even quipped at one point that Trump was “damn good” for the network.) The wall-to-wall coverage, Kelly says, has helped Trump rise in the polls.
“It’s like, you’re putting your thumb on the scale,” Kelly told Couric in an interview as part of the 7th Annual Women in the World Summit in New York. “It’s not an anti-Trump thing. It’s a responsibility as journalists thing.”
However, Kelly, host of the Kelly File, defended Fox News’ coverage of Trump’s campaign and her own show. “We don’t wallpaper the show with a Donald Trump event,” Kelly said.”Why? Because we don’t do that for other candidates, so it’s not fair.”
Last summer, when networks started airing Trump’s press conferences in their entirety, Kelly said she told her producer, ‘When the post-mortem is done on the coverage of Donald Trump, wherever this race goes, let’s make sure we’re on the side of the angels.'”
Kelly, in particular, has had a contentious relationship with Trump throughout the election season. Trump has lashed out at Kelly several times, complaining about what he has deemed to be her unfair line of questioning in the network’s first GOP debate. Trump later skipped the network’s second Republican debate earlier this year and he refused to attend what would have been a fourth debate that was later cancelled. (The two Fox News GOP debates featuring Trump averaged more than 20 million viewers, as the network has drawn record ratings throughout the primary season.)
Kelly, who called Trump’s attacks on her “unprecedented for a presidential candidate,” said the real estate mogul and former reality TV star used to occasionally compliment her on her show as well as send her friendly notes and news clippings before he ran for president.
“I think he was trying to curry favor” with journalists before running for president, Kelly told Couric. And, the Fox News anchor also thinks Trump “felt betrayed” after last August’s Fox News debate due to some of the tough questions she asked him regarding derogatory comments he has made about women in the past.
Regarding the friendly notes and compliments she used to receive from Trump, Kelly also said, “It’s a nice gesture, but it’s not going to stop me from asking tough questions.”
The interview with Couric followed another interview, from earlier in the week, where Kelly told Variety that she might not choose to stay with Fox News after her contract with the network expires this fall.