Megyn Kelly: Things You Didn't Know

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Megyn Kelly rose swiftly through the ranks at Fox News with her tough interview approach and bold stances on contentious social and political issues. By the end of her 12th year with the conservative cable news outlet, she was arguably its biggest star, right alongside longtime anchor Bill O'Reilly. Kelly's star shot even higher when she moderated a debate for the GOP primary of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, famously throwing down with then-candidate Donald Trump over remarks he made about women.  

In January 2017, Kelly announced she was leaving Fox News to join NBC News, citing a desire for more "human connection," particularly by spending more time with her children. She launched the Megyn Kelly Show in September 2017, but by October 2018, reports emerged that NBC was letting her go amid dismal ratings and a slew of controversies. Though Kelly often seems to make as much news as she reports, let's take a closer look at some of the lesser known aspects of Kelly's life.

A country girl at heart

In a piece for Fox News Insider, Kelly's husband revealed that if his wife truly had her way, she would have lived life roping steer and herding cattle. "Megyn grew up wanting to be a cowgirl," Brunt said. "Her favorite family photo has her in a cowgirl outfit in front of an Olan Mills woodsy generic background. Her wardrobe choices these days might not work on the ranch, but she still says her dream vacation is to take the family to a dude ranch. Some things never change." Kelly also talked about her cowgirl fantasy with Parade, saying, "I loved the Lone Ranger."

You can take the lawyer out of the courtroom...

Kelly began her professional career as a lawyer. Ironically, the decision to pursue law came after she was rejected from Syracuse University's communications program. She pursued political science instead and wound up graduating from Albany Law School. According to Vanity Fair, Kelly admits she had a change of heart about practicing law while on the partner track at a prestigious firm in Chicago. "I had this little voice in me saying, 'I am more interesting than this. I am more interested than this,'" she said. From that point on, she began to pursue a career in broadcast journalism.

But she didn't leave her courtroom skills at the studio door. According to excerpts from her book, Settle for More (via The Atlantic), Kelly transferred her litigation practices — like saying "something passive-aggressive just to get opposing counsel mad" in order to "make them lose their cool" — directly to her interviews at Fox News. Kelly has deployed this highly effective tactic repeatedly, like when she got former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to blurt out, "You are fascinated with sex, and you don't care about public policy!" Had that been an actual courtroom, we imagine she would have then cooly collected some papers from behind her lectern, then paused for dramatic effect before saying, "Nothing further, your honor." 

A sketchy criminal background?

Love her or hate her, Megyn Kelly appears to be a stand-up kind of woman. While she may be quick to bite back at her haters, she clearly would never do anything truly terrible ... right? Well, according to the TV host herself, she has gone against the law at least once before. In her 2016 memoir, Settle for More, Kelly opened up about a rebellious phase she went through as a 15-year-old in 1985, explaining that she'd once snagged a five-finger discount at a department store.

"I tested the limits like all kids do, including shoplifting once," she wrote (via Radar Online). The incident occurred after a friend's mother refused to buy Kelly and her pal some plastic jewelry at Kmart. Having wanted the cheap accessories, Kelly recalled her and her friend's solution to their little issue, writing, "So we stole it." But Kelly and her teenage pal didn't make off scot-free. Kelly's father found out what the girls had done, and he forced them to not only return the jewelry but to also apologize to the store's manager.

And speaking of her dad...

A terrible regret

According to excerpts from Megyn Kelly's memoir (via Radar Online), she got into a blowout fight with her father after he said the class ring she wanted was too expensive. She said she stormed upstairs to go to bed "without saying good night or even acknowledging him. I turned out the light and went to sleep angry." Kelly's father died of a heart attack later that evening. "The last image I have of my father alive is of him alone on the couch," she writes in Settle for More. "That sight would haunt me for the rest of my life."

Kelly's close friend, Kelly McCready, spoke with Vogue about the tragic loss. "She never forgave herself for that," McCready said. "I remember she called me when it happened. She was sobbing so hard I couldn't understand her. But even then, that resilience you see in her now was there. She just bucked up and got through it."

She's gone after Donald Trump (and lived to tell the tale)

On her way to the top, Kelly has become famous for going after her male counterparts, including her own colleagues, such as O'Reilly. But perhaps her most infamous target has President Donald Trump, whom she grilled while he was a candidate during the first Republican debate in 2015. "You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals..." she said to Trump. "Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton—that you are part of the war on women?" Trump fired back at Kelly on social media and in interviews, but Kelly didn't back down. "I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism," she said on her show.

A 'year of guards and guns'

Although she and Trump appeared to bury the hatchet when she interviewed him in May 2016, Kelly said she received death threats during her headline-making feud with the president-elect, describing the experience as her "year of guards and guns."

She talked to NPR about that tense period in her career. "I had strange people showing up at my house. I had strange people casing my house. I had my children looking out the windows afraid. ... Every time he would come after me, he would release ... a torrent of nastiness in my life, and I had to sort of just be steady at the helm, because I was going to cover this race come hell or high water." Kelly actually reserved most of the blame for the death threats on Trump's social media director, Don Scavino Jr. Speaking at a live event in Washington, D.C. (via The Guardian), Kelly claimed it was Scavino Jr.'s job to "stir these people up" and that having to engage with this kind of "online vitriol" had been "soul-killing" for her. 

She doesn't consider herself a feminist. '

Although she's made headlines for asking men tough questions and reportedly standing up for her female coworkers, Kelly doesn't like to think of herself as a feminist. "What should matter is whether I stand for female empowerment," she told NPR, "and I don't think there are many women out there who have any doubts about that." 

She expanded her thoughts on the subject to Vogue, saying her personal position on feminism is affected by her goal to try to remain objective as a journalist. "Having worked at Fox News, I understand how that half of the country thinks, and I don't want to alienate them," Kelly said, adding, "And I don't need to ingratiate myself to the other half. If they're mad at me for not saying I'm a feminist, they'll get over it. Or they won't. I can't help it." Kelly even takes her reluctance toward activism a step further. "The less time talking about our gender, the better," she added in Settle for More (via The New York Times).

She reportedly needs a 'Type B' husband

Kelly married Dr. Dan Kendall, an anesthesiologist and pain management physician, in 2001. They divorced amicably in 2006, according to an interview Kendall gave to the Daily Mail. "I wanted a wife and she wanted a wife — we both needed someone to cook and clean and support us," he said of their clashing personalities. Kendall described Kelly as "a Type A personality" who "needed more of a Type B husband." He added, "Sometimes with two professionals it doesn't work out, we were both working extremely hard and both excelling at what we did." Kendall also made sure to point out that while he and Kelly "no longer talk," they "remain friends."

Kelly married her second husband, novelist Douglas Brunt (pictured), in 2008. They have three children together: Thatcher, Edward, and Yardley. According to a 2014 Parade profile, the kids may have caused Kelly to evolve her idea of domestic bliss. When asked what a "normal Sunday" is like for her fam, she said, "We go to the park, we ride our bikes, we go out with the kids on their scooters. Normal stuff that parents do."  

She's a journalist, not a pundit

In a 2015 cover story for Variety, Kelly confirmed she is a registered Independent. The news came as a bit of a surprise, considering she spent more than a decade at Fox News, which tends to swing to the right. "I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans," Kelly said, without revealing names ... I'm not rooting for anybody. I'm a Fox News anchor, and I have no horse in the race. I can give anyone a hard time."

She has famously eschewed partisan politics throughout her journalism career, and though she's hesitant to even talk about her positions, she did tell Vogue in 2017, "Every single friend I had was pro-choice. ... One of my best friends from childhood has worked as a nurse for Planned Parenthood her entire career."

But don't count that as a hint toward her views on abortion because she also said, "I don't want to reveal my own personal affiliations, but let's just say I grew up as I did and then I became a mother of three children and I, too, am Catholic, and so I can see both sides of it very clearly."

She makes bank

Vanity Fair wrote in its February 2016 cover story that Kelly was pulling in anywhere from $6 to $9 million annually. That number should come as no surprise to anyone keeping an eye on her ratings. In September 2015, CNN reported that her show ranked first in the coveted 25 to 54 age demographic, breaking a streak that her Fox News colleague, Bill O'Reilly, had held since 2005. 

Kelly rode that ratings surge to a nice pay raise, according to the Daily Mail, who pegged her three-year deal with NBC at $69 million. That's an unofficial number because the network would not comment on salaries, but even the lowest figures being bandied about in the press were in the $12 to $17 million range. The point is: that's not too bad for one hour on the air Monday through Friday, and occasional special events coverage, huh? It's arguably an even sweeter deal when you consider that she could still pocket that full amount even though NBC parted ways with her well in October 2018, well before that deal concluded.