Politics As Usual: Kelly v. Trump – 172 days and counting

There has been a lot of fuss and commotion about Megyn Kelly’s interview with Donald Trump, which aired on a Fox News Special on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.

The interview raised numerous questions. When should a journalist apologize and when does a subject get a second chance? What were Kelly’s motivations? Was the interview scripted just to get ratings for Fox? Was the feud a publicity stunt from the beginning?

It’s no secret that journalistic impartiality and integrity are key when reporting a story.  Megyn Kelly is not the only journalist to endure ridicule from peers. Over the years, journalists have made mistakes and had to apologize, while becoming the punchline in many newsrooms.

Brian Williams lied about how he was shot down in a helicopter in Iraq. The tall tale ended his celebrated career.

The New York Times was highly criticized when three reporters covered a story about six students who were killed, when a balcony collapsed at a party at Berkeley. The story focused on the party issue, rather than taking into account that six lives had been lost, and the devastating effect the deaths would have on students, colleagues, friends and family.

David Monagan had wrongly described Irish President Michael D. Higgins as an “acknowledged homosexual”” in Forbes Magazine. Monagan had to plead for forgiveness.

Ahmen Khawajai from the BBC mistakenly tweeted that Queen Elizabeth II had died. The reporter faced an investigation among other disciplinary actions.

And, of course, there is the well-known story about Stephen Glass, formerly of The New Republic, who fabricated several articles to raise his notoriety. A movie “Shattered Glass,” recounted Glass’s deception.

While Megyn Kelly, unlike the aforementioned, hasn’t done anything unethical, her motive to even interview Trump is perplexing, since he spent countless hours demeaning and verbally abusing her, via Twitter, as well as in interviews.

Criticism regarding Kelly’s actions has made headlines, and has been fodder for nighttime talk show hosts. The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah called the interview “Couples Therapy.” In response to this accusation, Kelly tweeted, “So grateful I have men like @Trevornoah 2 advise on how to deal w/gender attacks- I’m sure his life experience (sic) far better than mine on this!”

One thing is certain, not everything needs or even deserves a reply, particularly when you’re a public figure.

Megyn Kelly has an impressive journalistic track record. America wanted to cheer her on while she stood up to the man who refused to participate in a debate, because she was the moderator, who had insulted her, degraded women, Mexicans, Muslims, and many others over the last few months.

Instead of facing him, Kelly leaned in during the interview, treating him with kid gloves, allowing him to make excuses, as if he was fragile and sympathetic. Trump’s explanations of campaign strategy and dragging others into character debate as deflection, is no justification for racism, slurs and offensive language.

As stated by Kelly: It’s true, it’s up to each individual how they handle attackers. However, it’s particularly important when you’re a public figure to set an example. She’s an intelligent person and a tenured journalist. She could have had a great impact culturally.  She did not.  She chose to do the exact opposite.

Why was she trying to help Trump rehabilitate his image?

For many who have been bullied or abused, watching the interview was disturbing and a huge letdown, as described by Emily Crocket on Vox.com.

It’s important for a reporter to live up to certain journalistic standards. There were a lot of missed opportunities here, as pointed out by several of Kelly’s critics.