Megyn Kelly is not a feminist icon. Megyn Kelly is not a feminist. She represents a brand of white feminism that celebrates her success as empowering for all women despite her legacy of racism and sexism. Her imminent move from Fox News to NBC will not move her further left, but rather pull NBC closer to the right than its already precarious position in center, barely left-ish politics.
More importantly, placing her on a mainstream, more liberal network (even if you disagree with the extent of NBC’s liberalness, it is unequivocally more so than Fox) gives her access to a much wider audience and camouflages her far-right views and racist ideology. It normalizes her particular brand of white feminism, which is predicated upon her success as a woman–being enough of a feminist act to try and obscure her racist and classist views that are also necessarily wrapped up in misogyny.
Fox News is unequivocally conservative. “Fair and balanced” is a laughable mockery of the network that has produced Bill O’Reilly, the least balanced human on the planet. They are allowed to be; we live in America (in a manner of speaking, at this point, but nevertheless). Kelly is no exception. One of her greatest hits includes her flip-out over the possibility that Santa is anything but white. The best part being that she assured “all the kids watching at home” that “Santa just is white,” as though she has a massive following of children young enough to believe in Santa but old enough to be watching a news program at 9pm on a weeknight.
Then there were all the times she supported police brutality and consistently referred to the Black Lives Matter movement as thugs. She clashed with DeRay Mckesson over the murder of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police officers, asking “don’t you see the danger to the community if we start locking up cops for making a bad judgement call?” As though “a bad judgement call” justifies homicide.
Mckesson asked “do you think Freddie Gray should be dead?” before flatly refusing to agree that “an officer’s role is to kill unarmed citizens.” Kelly then ended the interview.
“On NBC, she will have access to a wider audience and more airtime. She will gain legitimacy as a mainstream news personality. She will further confuse lazy feminists who want a powerful woman at all costs. She will assist in setting back the feminist movement by coming in disguise as our ally.”
Kelly has also been a staunch opponent of Planned Parenthood, particularly after the defamation campaign by Congressional Republicans and the criminally misleading videos by The Center for Medical Progress to make out that Planned Parenthood sells baby parts.
This is not unusual on Fox News. On NBC, it’s a little more unusual. Even Lester Holt, a registered Republican and NBC anchor, is generally a fair-minded journalist. NBC might not be a Bernie Bro’s socialist wet dream, but it’ll do. Over the years, however, the network has gone from more progressive in the early 2000s to more centrist in the later years and including the present.
Kelly will help tip the balance toward right-center. She was highly sought after and will receive triple the exposure on NBC that she received on Fox: a daytime talk show, a Sunday evening news show, and a contributor for breaking news. Most critically, audiences on both sides of the aisle love her.
So what does this mean for women? The problem with Kelly’s meteoric rise is that many women, many feminists, love it. They loved when she challenged Trump for calling women ugly pigs. She was on the cover of last February’s Vanity Fair, and in the profile, Evgenia Peretz waxed on about how tough Kelly is. Peretz and others love that Kelly is a blonde bombshell who was, in this case, “chomping at the bit to make another presidential candidate squirm.”
Sure. Sure that may be true and she’s not the only one who would be down to make any number of misogynistic politicians squirm. But that does not make her a feminist icon and it’s dangerous to suggest otherwise.
Such a move is white feminism at its finest. White feminism is popular in America because it’s the easiest kind of feminism. With white feminism, intersectionality is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter that Kelly is a flaming racist because we women have to stick together, or at least so goes the narrative. As though women of color are nonexistent. As though systemic racism does not play any part in systemic sexism. It therefore becomes incredibly easy to celebrate Kelly as one who has shattered glass ceilings and done so wearing four inch heels. “You go girl” is the easiest way out.
Her move to NBC will solidify this exception that we make for her bigotry because of her silky tresses and the fact that she is a powerful woman sitting amongst powerful men. On NBC, she will have access to a wider audience and more airtime. She will gain legitimacy as a mainstream news personality. She will further confuse lazy feminists who want a powerful woman at all costs. She will assist in setting back the feminist movement by coming in disguise as our ally.
If all of this means nothing to you, consider that she will be replaced by Tucker Carlson, the right-wing pundit behind The Daily Caller, a conservative news and opinion site that has produced such gems as “13 Syrian Refugees We’d Take Immediately” (hint: they’re all young, hot women). There is no universe in which he is good for women.