Megyn Kelly Being A Super Bitch-Face Again, This Time About Miss America. It's Weird.
Remember Megyn Kelly? You probably don't watch her morning talk show on NBC because no one really does. It airs opposite "Live with Kelly and Ryan," whose hosts are not professional bigots, but NBC decided that counterprogramming with Laura Ingraham's evil stunt double would somehow improve their ratings in that timeslot. They were wrong.
Now, this part is important: Kelly had literally one redeeming quality: She stood up to FOX News regarding its deplorable history of workplace harassment targeting women. She even tore former FOX host Bill O'Reilly a new one in an emotional segment on her show. I'm including the clip here, because you probably didn't see it when it aired because that would mean watching her show.
I stress again that Kelly had one redeeming quality. Her racist idiocy is well-documented. But she did confront then-candidate Donald Trump early on about his record of misogyny, which he conclusively disproved by making misogynistic comments about her.
(Quick Note: I hadn't seen this clip in a while. My God, this guy is president!)
We could at least count on Megyn Kelly as a champion of people who were very much like herself: white, lady-part having, members of an impressive tax bracket now experiencing much-needed relief. So, when Kelly had a roundtable discussion on her show Tuesday about changes in the Miss America pageant, it seemed like an easy way for her to remain "on brand." But no, she decided to go "New Coke" on us.
"Can we get rid of beauty pageants?" political analyst Zerlina Maxwell asked. "It's 2018. It's a complete antiquated idea, the idea that we're going to value — literally — your abs over whether or not you're a kind and compassionate person seems like something that's completely out of date."
NBC analyst Dan Goldman asserted that the contestants "are choosing" to participate in the swimsuit competition.
"It's a potential career," he said, "to make a lot more money than they would make."
"The scholarship is a ruse," Maxwell interrupted. "The excuse always — we need to show women in their bikinis because they're getting a scholarship. Really?"
"What's wrong with showing women in bikinis?" Kelly exclaimed.
Did Sean Hannity wake up in Kelly's body this morning in some bizarre Freaky Friday remake? "What's wrong with women strutting around in bikinis and being judged for how they look in them?" is the sort of clueless entitled white male question that's Hannity's stock-in-trade. Dan Goldman adequately represents stupid men when he claims women freely "choose" to participate in a pageant whose rules and format men invented. He doesn't need Kelly as a sexist wingman.
If women are historically paid more for "choosing" to have men ogle them than when they don't, then you can't fairly argue that there's much of a "choice." This goes back to when "pretty" girls were hired in department stores and "plain" girls got to answer phones in offices for far less money. The "choice" the "pretty" girl made to be slightly less broke and dependent on men is not a fair one. Kelly should know this, but instead she just doubles down with the sort of sexist glibness you'd find on "Fox & Friends" using terms you'd expect from the defense team for Bill Cosby's rape trials.
"Is it objectification if the woman wants it?" Kelly asked. "If she says, 'I am rocking this bathing suit, I want to walk that runway, I want to bring it. And you know what, I got brains too.'"
"Not in front of judges," Maxwell observed. "In front of judges, it's different."
"If you don't want to be judged on your looks then you don't join," Kelly offered. "But these women are not forced to join. They do it because they enjoy it."
FOX News has a predominately older white male audience. Kelly's current audience is primarily women who probably don't enjoy hearing "she was askin' for it" while they're eating their Cheerios. If that wasn't enough though, Kelly also publicly dragged her former FOX News colleague Gretchen Carlson, who was Miss America 1989. Carlson is also chairwoman of the board of the Miss America Organization. There are currently calls for Carlson's resignation because of the changes made to the pageant that are threatening to bring it into the 21st Century, so it might've been nice for Kelly to have Carlson's back -- like she sort of did, after some months, when she confirmed that Gretchen Carlson wasn't a lunatic making up #metoos all over Fox News -- rather than stab her in that general area.
"The reality is, no one is going to watch the pageant with the women choosing [what they want to wear]," the NBC host added. "You're looking for the smartest woman in America? You should be at MIT. You shouldn't be at the Miss America [pageant]. With all due respect, like what has the pageant become?"
Wow. Megyn Kelly chose to get "beach body ready" by shedding her one redeeming quality -- support of women somewhat like herself against sexist assholes. She's now become just another sexist asshole... with great abs, I guess.
Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.