From her reverse cowgirl ride to the top of Fox News to her latest role as a contract performer for NBC, the former corporate lawyer-turned-bleached news giggler prepares to peddle her own brand of ‘joy’ on the Peacock Network
By Mark Cromer
At long last, Megyn Kelly has finally revealed the truth. Well, ‘her truth’ anyway.
Just days before the debut of her new television morning show, Megyn Kelly Today, the once shining star of Rupert Murdoch’s universe of what network chiefs and studio heads still leniently call ‘talent,’ Kelly let the proverbial cat out of the bag, apparently lest someone drown it.
Her new show is going to be “a mimosa” for America, Kelly gushed in The New York Times over the weekend, and it’s a champagne serving that was ordered by no less a patron than providence. Yep.
“There’s stuff that’s a little naughty. Stuff in there that’s good for you. Some stuff in there that’s fun and sweet,” she explained to reporter John Koblin in the newspaper’s Business Day section. “But with some effervescence.”
Her cosmic mic drop moment soon followed: “And I know that I am about to launch the show that I was born to do,” Kelly told Koblin. “This is what I was meant to do.”
While certainly not the first woman or man to declare that their professional status or political fortunes or thespian fame resulted from the trade winds of destiny—athletes and actors thanking God for their trophies is a time-honored public display of delusion and it was only last year that saw Kelly’s former Fox News alum Glenn Beck podcasting from his faux Oval Office to announce that God had revealed to him that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was divinely anointed to be president (as his ordained candidate soon approached total obliteration in the primaries at the albeit small hands of Donald Trump, Beck then speculated that God would punish America for ignoring divinity’s memo)—Kelly’s rebooted marketing campaign pitch that the deck of her career fate was shuffled on high so as to deal her this network morning show was once more a potent reminder of what passes as prophecy these days on that sliver of Shangri-La between the Hudson and East River.
By her own estimation, Kelly was simply born for this show. It was just meant to happen, you see, in the cards from Day One. Everything before was merely a primer for now.
As predictable as The Times can so often be these decades of late, Koblin’s straight-ahead reportage and not overly poured analysis was a fine reminder of the solid journalism that’s still to be found when one flips open the fertile crescent of the venerable broadsheet’s national print edition. While many news junkies on the Right that now maintain on the Methadone of Twitter feeds from like-minded users would miss the clean journalistic fix of Koblin’s story, there are still at least a few serious news hypes drifting around that return to an old dealer they don’t particularly care that much for anymore but understand they still sling the occasional uncut hit of good shit.
And Koblin’s story on Kelly’s latest epiphany was some seriously good shit indeed.
Adorned with a huge color photo of Kelly by photographer Chad Batka that’s a portrait-plus framed carefully to feature not only her striking face but her lithe figure from the hips up and set against a soft pink backdrop that stretched well above and below the fold and spread across a nearly four-column width that captured a more pensive-looking supernova whose Clorox-rinsed locks have been grown out to a more suburban mom friendly length, the headline is certifiably one of the rare instances when the editors who were responsible for it clearly didn’t conveniently twist it from the story below.
They let Kelly by Koblin herald the read with the quote: ‘The Show That I Was Born To Do.’
And it only got better from there.
While Kelly didn’t get into what undoubtedly would have been a briar patch of details about her departure from Fox News, she did smoothly offer that her job at FNC was no longer bringing her “joy.” And as Koblin was careful to count, Kelly returned to the term ‘joy’ in one variant or another—including “joyful” and “joyous”—no less than nine times through the course of her interview with him.
And Kelly seems to be taking some big swigs from bottled joy that teleport her to HappyLand.
As she explained to Koblin, while Fox News offered a cool $100 million for her to stay onboard the cable network that made her, she just couldn’t. As to do so, Kelly explained, would be to direct her life from a position of fear.
“If I had sat their saying, ‘I have job security here at Fox News, they are not going to fire me, they are going to pay me very well,’ that would have been a decision based on fear,” Kelly said. “Fear of the unknown, fear of failure. And that’s an unhealthy place from which to make any decision.”
At least for some of the 93 million or more working-age Americans who in the late hours of 2017 are no longer in the workplace, as well as a few of the millions more who fear they may lose their working and middle class jobs at any moment for any reason, Kelly’s estimation that her saddle-jump from an employer that had put eight-figures annually into her bank account to another media steed that will also feed eight-figures across her bank routing numbers every year was nothing less than a brave stand against professional complacency must be another glowing shovel-sized serving of Business Class horseshit as scented by Dior.
For all of her sunny self-assessment about the gallantry of her brave face plunge into the unknown wilds of 30 Rock, Kelly spent not a moment pondering how her new show comprised of ingredients that she reads off like a nursery rhyme (minus the snips, snails and puppy dog tails) might differ—oh, say, by millions of light years—from the here and now reality of the audience she undoubtedly prays will turn up for her daily dose of lysergic syrup, albeit not praying as zealously as NBC News President Noah Oppenheim is that his network’s gambit on Kelly doesn’t implode.
And that’s because Kelly knows there was nothing brave about it, whatsoever.
The bottom line is whatever happens tomorrow for Megyn Kelly Today, her parachute out of a hand by providence turned bad hand still looks something like $50 million.
Now that’s some joy juice indeed and judging by Koblin’s story, Kelly had clearly been imbibing heavily on it before her interview with him and, by all appearances of her first few days on the air, she’s hit that bottle hard before each show as well.
She should be. Oppenheim pulled the plug (for now anyway) on Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly after eight episodes of a planned 10-show debut of Kelly on the network, which featured Kelly doing her impression of Diane Sawyer that quickly flat-lined amid the suits and pantsuits ratings expectations.
And now the autumn birth of Megyn Kelly Today; with Kelly reappearing in front of a live studio audience looking delightfully MILFish to serve her daily Mimosa to a disintegrating America and striving desperately to hit that sweet spot somewhere between Betty Crocker and Marcia Clark.
Thus this week she kicked off one of her shows with an opening segment that veered from the banality of British royal romance before jump-cutting into wedding invitations that barred breast-feeding guests and then musing about a photo of a dog biting a man’s crotch during a family photo. She pondered the need for celebrities to keep their family life private, then promptly proceeded to tell a patently false story about her now four-year-old son Thatcher laying in his crib and critiquing her lullabies by saying “Mommy, why were the first three songs so bad?”
Nervous laughter from the audience as even they knew that was a sad, gratuitous lie penned by an ink master in Kelly’s stable of writers. But then again it was Kelly who declared in an interview that she was leaving her one show at Fox News for two shows at NBC so she could spend more time with her kids.
Kelly also took a question about the ‘NFL kneeling’ crisis (which is right up there with the tranny bathroom crisis or the Confederate statue crisis, say versus the implosion of Detroit, the murder rate of South Chicago or a hundred million Americans looking for work) one in which she did some fancy courtroom dancing with a reply of “that assumes facts not in evidence” which assuredly lost about three-quarters of her audience.
Kelly then attempted to thread the needle by saying she loved America, the NFL and free speech. That said, she went to where her owners expected her to go, asking why everything had to be about the dark arts of the Sith Lord Donald Trump and then pondered in a cotton candy sorta way how politics had invaded everything and she was going to resist that cancer.
Accordingly, her in-studio guests that day were Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. So, thank goodness politics had been washed from her show, since the last Hollywood player to ever radiate politics would be Hanoi Jane Fonda. [For the record, this writer remains quite smitten with Ms. Fonda, for more reasons than can be explained here, though her honesty, intellect, bravery, her personal freedom, true coolness and her general feminine sexiness may have something to do with it.]
But all of this set up Kelly’s big ‘get’ for the day: a phone interview with parent-killer Lyle Menendez, who along with his bro Kyle wasted mom and dad back in the summer of 1989 with shotgun blasts to their faces.
As a clip of Kelly on the phone with Lyle filled the screen, viewers were treated to Kelly asking: “I wonder if you remember what you were feeling as you were shooting them?”
Now how’s that for a morning Mimosa?
If the ratings start to tank as fast as they did for her first NBC outing, perhaps Kelly can get Lyle with Kyle back on the line in a conference call and pose the vital question: “As your mom’s skull exploded, did her splattered brains look like a big plate of spilled fettuccine alfredo or was it perhaps more akin to chunked albacore? Lyle lets go to you first, with a follow-up from Kyle.”
Following that and in keeping with Kelly’s Joyology™ programming recipe, NBC could take a page from the CIA’s Project MK-Ultra (suggested reading: Acid Dreams, The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, The Sixties And Beyond by Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain, Grove Press, 1985) and require Kelly to dose on some Owsley Stanley-grade acid thirty minutes before each live show and let her come out on stage frying.
Not only would that be ‘Must See TV,’ but there’s actually a cinematic precursor of just how dazzling such a moment would be found in Oliver Stone’s freshman directorial effort Salvador, his brilliant 1986 telling of photo-journalist’s Richard Boyle’s exploits amid the civil war in El Salvador. Actress Valerie Wildman portrays Pauline Axelrod, another bleached Stepford television network reporter safely ensconced on the American embassy grounds in San Salvador on election night 1980, who finds Boyle (as portrayed by now rogue actor James Woods) repugnant at best. She’s at the top of her network game, he’s a broke drunk that’s sometimes talented with a camera. During the Election 1980 soiree at the embassy Boyle has an epic encounter with her over what’s happening as a result of the American-Soviet proxy war in Central America.
At a suitable cocktailed table print journalist Boyle unloads on TV news reader Axelrod.
“The people would vote for Donald Duck or Genghis Khan or whoever the local cop tells them to because if they don’t, this is what happens!” Boyle says, holding up a photo of a dead Salvadoran boy.
“And you’re a real fucking pro, Boyle, that’s why you can’t even last two weeks with the network,” Axelrod replies.
Woods’ Boyle walks back to the bar. “Fucking yuppies stand up on the roof of the Camino Real and they think they have the whole story: ‘My two weeks in El Salvador hiding under my bed by Pauline Axelrod.’”
As cool disgust washes over her, Wildman’s Axelrod retorts “Oh yeah, ‘Whoring and drinking my way through El Salvador by Richard Boyle.’”
Refreshed drink in hand, Boyle returns to the fray, reloaded and ready: “Kissing all the right asses. No wonder you get your glamor puss all over the networks.”
Axelrod’s finale: “Fuck off, Boyle!”
Then the network heroine steps off to do her stand-up as the networks were calling the 1980 landslide for Reagan, a quiet despair settling in among Boyle and his fellow print reporters at the table.
But then Jim Belushi’s character, the appropriately titled ‘Dr. Rock,’ offers a fine saving grace: “Well, you don’t have to worry about her. She’s gonna boil down real good on that roof. I put 500 mics of acid in her drink.”
Cut to network blonde Pauline Axelrod on the roof trying to announce Reagan’s sweeping victory just as Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds arrived to pick her up in newspaper taxis for the ride through the land of cellophane flowers of yellow and green towering over her head. She giggled, and she was gone.
In Oliver Stone’s genius directorial opener, whether or not that actually happened, and God, let’s hope it did, it was a certainly a scene that NBC should remember with glamor puss Megyn Kelly.
If some Blue Cheer is what it takes to bring Kelly’s joyology to the masses, so be it.
And if you think Kelly or NBC is above such psychedelic tabloid perversity, think quickly again, as a $15 million-a-year salary knows no desperate bottom even in the joy tank of Megyn Kelly Today.
ut then again this isn’t the first time that NBC has had a certified, licensed and completely whacked out joyologist on one of its shows. In the mid-1990s, Molly Shannon brought to life the sheer vibrancy of Helen Madden on Saturday Night Live, whose frizzy beaming mug topped a Soviet-bloc gymnast’s body that could contort into seemingly innumerable positions on the guest loveseat of Ana Gasteyer’s Pretty Living show.
Shannon’s delivery of her character Helen Madden’s jubilant psychobabble was a brilliantly distilled talk show take on, and take down of, the elites ongoing quest for true meaning as manifested in a bliss-addled amalgam of such old school wellsprings like EST, the Source, Synanon, Scientology, Arthur Janov’s primal therapy, Sterling Institute of Relationship and The Forum, among so many other places to find it. (Apologies to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and, of course, the master Charles Manson.)
Shannon’s SNL joyologist was indisputably the forerunner of and critical inspiration to Kelly and her book Megyn Kelly: Settle For More, as it surely was originally entitled: Megyn Kelly: Settle For More! More! More! Love it! Love It! Love It!—My Fantastical Life As A Joy Dealer. But publishing house Harper had to edit for the realities of front cover space.
Yet when one considers the brand that Kelly is desperately trying to build, as Koblin’s story in The Times laid out in rather stark terms, it’s clear that if she’s successful in selling herself as such she should be cutting Shannon fat royalty checks in perpetuity, to say nothing of the Blood Sugar Sex Magik tributes she should be offering Arianna Huffington, who was perhaps the first female media bon vivant that successfully morphed from conservative shill to faux liberal flamethrower that garroted New Media into a $300 million-plus payday for herself off the backs of her unpaid HuffPo legion before jettisoning her Leona Helmsleyesque ‘little people’ for a new gig as a lifestyle savant and sleep guru now peddling Passengers-like hibernation pods in Manhattan.
If it turns out that both barrels of NBC’s gambit with her misfire, then perhaps the network should clear the chamber and reload with a reboot of an old CBS game show that ran for a dozen years on the Tiffany Network before NBC first got its mitts on it in 1990, where it also tanked promptly after a single season: To Tell The Truth.
But since ABC has the show now, NBC would have to massage it through legal, yet that shouldn’t be any more difficult than getting Kelly back into a salon for another makeover and only a slight tweak of the title should suffice: Megyn Kelly Tells The Truth (If She Can Remember It).
Will the real Megyn please stand up?
What would that look like?
But if that doesn’t pan out, well, there’s always Dana Perino.