After applauding progressive women like Hillary Clinton, Nan Goldin, and outspoken designer Sophie Theallet in our “Badass Bitch of the Week” series, it might seem, well, rather off-brand for us to praise Megyn Kelly, a woman who has aligned herself with an institution that largely and consistently spews sensationalist, extreme-Right rhetoric—yes, I’m referring to the “fair and balanced” network known as Fox News, which employs such model citizens as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and a revolving door of steely blonde prototypes—and has been the figurehead for flagrant racist demagoguery on more than one occasion. (Kelly’s legendary claim in 2013 that Santa Claus and Jesus are most definitely white is perhaps the most modest of them all.) One could consider her a pillar of "white feminism," and someone with a past littered with ugly controversies, which Slate has appropriately reminded us not to forget. But hear us out: Kelly, throughout her 12-year tenure as a high-profile news anchor at Fox (The Kelly File, which officially ended today, was the second highest-rated show on cable news, behind—ugh—The O'Reilly Factor) is not perfect. But she is kind of a badass, especially now that she’s walked out on Fox.
Firstly, she's openly criticized Donald Trump, even pegging him as a “sexual predator,” much to the chagrin of a very mad Newt Gingrich. Her public feud with the decaying Utz Cheese Ball, of course, drew her much criticism from the conservative Fox News-watching crowd. She's also consistently smashed the patriarchy and has repeatedly called out Republicans on their bullshit. Of note: accidentally (or perhaps not accidentally) calling Mike Huckabee “Fuckabee” before handing him a dose of cold, hard, feminist reality."Well, I do have news for you before I let you go," she told him. "We are not only swearing, we're drinking, we're smoking, we're having premarital sex with birth control before we go to work—and sometimes boss around a bunch of men!” She's also enjoyed open spats with Hannity, O'Reilly, and Karl Rove—the latter of whom famously refused to accept Obama's reelection in 2012. In 2011, she called out conservative talk-radio host Mike Gallagher after he referred to her maternity leave as "a racket," asking him, "What is it about carrying a baby for nine months that you don't think deserves a few months off so bonding and recovery can take place? You can't answer the question because there is no answer, my friend." She publicly disclosed that Fox's co-founder and former chairman, Roger Ailes, sexually harassed her, the details of which are revealed in her recently released memoir, Settle for More. And Tuesday, despite being offered a reported $100 million to remain at the Fox network (boss move turning that down, Kelly), she announced she's officially switching over to the dark side—that being NBC, a network belonging to the bubble of the so-called liberal-leaning mainstream media, which she's even criticized in the past. Please don't screw this up, Kelly. We want to like you.
In her aforementioned book, Kelly stated that she does not identify as a feminist because it's "exclusionary and alienating," and she thinks feminism is associated with liberal politics. She also has remained curiously silent in regards to her stance on abortion, telling Vanity Fair that her position is known only to herself and her husband. Additionally, after it was announced that she'd be replaced by Tucker Carlson, former Crossfire host and founder of The Daily Caller, that right-leaning fake news site that your conservative uncle consistently cites on Facebook, she praised the decision, saying that she will be "cheering him on!" This is disturbing in many ways, but also profoundly confusing. Jezebel has referred to Kelly as a "fascinating and exciting enigma," and her relationship with liberal, feminist women is, indeed, befuddling—particularly for this writer. It begs the question, though: Have we given her a pass simply because she's been Fox's token jewel, one who's consistently outsmarted her male cohorts and occasionally drops bombs of knowledge? While I wouldn't even come close to calling her "woke" or likening her to any sort of feminist icon, Kelly is smart, and she is tough. Now that she's escaped the Conservative Home for the Aging and Deranged—and is no longer fighting for airtime by stooping to their fear-mongering agenda—here's hoping Kelly, newly minted in her trifecta of roles at NBC, will waltz into 30 Rockefeller Plaza, metaphorical feminist sword in hand, and shatter that glass ceiling.