(He is the person who suggested that Richard Nixon warm up his image by touching Pat more often when they were on camera together, a small price to pay for bombing Cambodia to his heart’s content.) His signal advice to her was “to not try so hard to be perfect” all the time on air, and to allow herself to show “who I really am”—perhaps not exactly the counsel he had offered Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity or Bret Baier, but la difference is big at Fox, and she followed along.Kelly learned to be more playful on camera, to crack herself up and not take herself so seriously when she flubbed a line.She called Sharpton “Rev” and Mike Huckabee “Gov,” and (surreally) she called Cornell West “Doc,” as though he’d just ambled over to the front porch on Hee Haw with his medical bag.Ailes was her boss—the unchallenged “king” of Fox News, she has called him—but Brit Hume, who had come to Fox from ABC during the new network’s first year, was her ideological father.
In the middle of all this, feeding clips of ammo into the hot Fox News machine, was Megyn Kelly.
“You got this, little girl,” he would tell her when she set out to claim another prize. In short order, she was in Roger Ailes’s office, making a case for herself.
Kelly decided to go to law school so that she could become a prosecutor “and be respected.” But once again she came up short, rejected this time by Notre Dame, so she packed up her aerobics leggings and Tri-Delt T-shirts and headed back to her girlhood bedroom and the Albany Law School, where a frenemy told her people were calling her Barbie (“Shove it up your ass,” Kelly said when she’d had enough: problem solved). As she tells it, one of the first questions Ailes asked her was “how the daughter of a nurse and a college professor understood anything other than left wing dogma.” She replied that although she’d been raised in a Democratic household, she had always been apolitical. “He wasn’t looking for a Republican reporter,” she writes.
To watch her, during one of her interviews on the subject of race and policing, interrupt a black guest to ask her whether she’d ever called white people “crackers” was to see Kelly in action, fired up and ready to go.
In some respects, she was an independent actor at Fox, with her own show and ultimate control of its editorial content.