Donald Trump has had a lot of complaints about Megyn Kelly‘s coverage of his campaign. It turns out Kelly has plenty of criticisms about the way Trump has been covered everywhere else.
“Yes, we all have to worry about numbers to some extent. That’s the reality of TV news in 2016,” the Fox News anchor said Wednesday at Lincoln Center in New York. “But we also have to worry about our souls, and journalism.”
Kelly said she’s been bothered that some television executives have viewed Trump’s candidacy as good for business. She suggested that Trump’s rise in the polls was spurred by the staggering amount of media coverage he’s received.
“And then the media would sit there and say, ‘It’s amazing how the polls are just up, up,'” Kelly said. “It’s like, you’re putting your thumb on the scale. It’s not an anti-Trump thing. It’s a responsibility as journalists thing.”
She said she’s proud that her own nightly program, “The Kelly File,” doesn’t go wall-to-wall with Trump’s campaign events.
“Why? Because we don’t do that for other candidates, so it’s not fair,” Kelly said.
Her concerns over how to cover Trump apparently began last summer when networks started airing his press conferences in their entirety. Kelly said it prompted a conversation with her producer.
“I said, ‘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,'” she said.
Kelly made the comments during an interview with Katie Couric held in conjunction with the seventh annual Women in the World Summit. The event was spearheaded by former Newsweek editor Tina Brown.
Despite Couric’s assurances to the contrary, most of the half-hour conversation revolved around Kelly’s contentious relationship with Trump, which has emerged as one of the most persistent storylines of the 2016 campaign.
Kelly reflected on last August’s GOP debate on Fox, where she grilled Trump about his history of misogynistic remarks. The line of questioning infuriated Trump, and ignited his on-again-off-again feud with Kelly and Fox News.
But Kelly said she posed equally tough questions to the other candidates that night.
“They all got it right in the kisser basically,” she said. “But Trump was the only one who complained.”
Before that debate, Kelly said that Trump occasionally called her up to compliment a certain segment from her show. He also used to send her news clippings, as he has been known to do with several journalists.
“I think he was trying to curry favor,” Kelly said.
“I knew that I was never going to love him, and I was never going to hate him,” she added. “And it was no comment on Donald Trump. It was just, you have to keep these relationships at arm’s length, especially when they’re going to run for president. And there was nothing to be gained from developing any sort of a friendship with him, or from alienating him.”
Because of those gestures, Kelly believes Trump felt “betrayed” when she questioned him on the debate stage. In his response to Kelly that night, Trump said, “I’ve been very nice to you.”
“You know, I was like, I didn’t ask you to call me or send me those things,” Kelly said Wednesday. “I appreciated it. It was a nice gesture, but it’s not going to stop me from asking tough questions.”
Kelly told Couric that Fox News “has done a good job supporting me.” She expressed sympathy for Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who has publicly backed her amid Trump’s criticism.
“I feel for my boss Roger Ailes because think of the position he’s been put in, right?” she said. “This is unprecedented for a presidential candidate to go after a news anchor in this way.”
Early in the program, Kelly joked that she and Couric are both familiar with what it’s like to become the focal point of a story.
“You know a thing about this because you did a very famous interview with Sarah Palin in which you were the news,” Kelly said, referring to Couric’s memorable 2008 interview with the former GOP vice presidential nominee.
“It’s a bizarre place to be,” she added, “and it’s not a place I want to be, and I’m looking forward to that ending.”