Fox anchor in Trump spat known for being direct

Fox News anchor and moderator Kelly (centre) and her colleagues during the US Republican presidential debate last Thursday. Businessman Trump had wanted Ms Kelly removed from the moderating panel.
Fox News anchor and moderator Kelly (centre) and her colleagues during the US Republican presidential debate last Thursday. Businessman Trump had wanted Ms Kelly removed from the moderating panel.PHOTO: REUTERS

Before she found herself at the centre of businessman Donald Trump's latest stunt, Fox News television anchor Megyn Kelly was perhaps best known for a single question.

That came on election night in 2012, moments after the network had projected a victory for President Barack Obama in Ohio, thus effectively declaring the result in favour of the Democrat.

Political consultant Karl Rove - an influential Republican - cast doubt on the projection during Fox's live telecast, rattling off a series of numbers to argue that the race was not yet over.

When he finished, Ms Kelly turned to Mr Rove and asked: "Is this just the math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better or is it real?"

The moment would put Ms Kelly, 45, among the headlines the next day. A lot of the buzz stemmed from the fact that Fox is widely regarded in media circles as a pro-Republican media outlet.

Thus, Mr Rove was supposedly on home turf, yet was ambushed by an awkward question.

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT

You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals... Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?

MS MEGYN KELLY, Fox News anchor, in a pointed question to presidential hopeful Donald Trump during a TV debate in August, which sparked off a series of ugly tweets from the latter

That Mr Obama would be confirmed as president not long after the exchange only served to add insult to injury.

Those familiar with that Megyn Kelly story would thus not be too surprised at the current spat between her and Mr Trump. The corporate attorney- turned- TV journalist has already shown that she is willing to invite scorn from liberals and conservatives alike. While she frequently toes the Fox News line, there are moments where she surprises Republican guests with a sharply worded takedown.

Her battle with Mr Trump began when she was moderating a Fox News debate in August and asked him: "You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals... Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?"

The billionaire was clearly unhappy with the question. After leaving the stage, he launched a Twitter tirade against her that included the tasteless comment: "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever."

He has since accused her of being a "lightweight reporter" and retweeted comments calling her a bimbo.

Last week, he sat out the final Republican debate after his demand that Ms Kelly be removed from the moderating panel was rejected.

It is moments like the 2012 election and the dust-up with Mr Trump that has made Ms Kelly one of the most prominent anchors on the Fox network right now, and her nightly show "The Kelly File" frequently beats the ratings of her competitors.

Her rise as a TV anchor was far from expected, especially since she graduated with a law degree and practised as a corporate lawyer for 10 years. She has said in numerous interviews that she hated her time as a lawyer and towards the end of her law career was moonlighting for very little money at a Washington TV station.

She would later join that station full time before getting picked up by Fox and rising quickly through the ranks. She lists that decision to change track among the pivotal moments in her life, alongside the death of her father from a heart attack when she was just 15, and a difficult year in high school when she was the target of intense bullying by classmates.

In her current battle with Mr Trump, Ms Kelly has largely taken the high road, ignoring nearly all the aggressive tweets and stressing that he "does not get to control the media".

On her show in August, all she had to say to Mr Trump was that she would continue doing her job. "This is a tough business," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2016, with the headline 'Fox anchor in Trump spat known for being direct'. Print Edition | Subscribe