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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Fox News Host Megyn Kelly

Megyn Kelly / AP
• January 29, 2015 11:45 am

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The praise continues to flood in for Megyn Kelly, the host of the newest show in Fox News’ primetime line-up.

The most recent member of the bandwagon is New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg, whose lengthy profile of Kelly led fellow Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly to label her as "the only one the New York Times likes."

Rutenberg’s piece details Kelly’s rise as a news anchor and also celebrates Kelly’s ability to create a Fox News show that even some conservatives are scared to appear on.

In just over a year, The Kelly File has the top ratings of any non-sports show in her time slot. Roger Ailes says Kelly could end up being "bigger than anybody" in news.

Here are five things from Rutenberg’s profile that you probably didn’t know about the hottest anchor at Fox News:

1. Kelly took heat as an early doubter of the Duke Lacrosse case, but ended up being right

Megyn Kelly at The 35 Most Powerful People in Media / AP

Megyn Kelly at The 35 Most Powerful People in Media / AP

She began to draw attention beyond the Fox News universe in April 2006 with a series of reports on the "Duke lacrosse" case, in which a 27-year-old black woman accused three white members of the Duke University lacrosse team of sexually assaulting her at a party where she performed as a hired stripper. Most of the news coverage treated the case as a test of racial privilege and justice. Kelly took a decidedly different approach. Frequently citing "defense sources," she was often first with an escalating series of stories that cast serious doubt on the accuser. Media critics on the left vilified her for her coverage, but the case eventually unraveled, and prosecutors dropped the charges.

2. Kelly only considered one network other than Fox News … and it was MSNBC

AP

AP

Competing network executives I have spoken to agree that Kelly could have gone from WJLA to any of the major networks. Jonathan Klein, the CNN/US president from 2004 through 2010, told me it was one of his big regrets that he did not snag Kelly early on. "If you’d have asked me who was the one talent you’d want to have from somewhere else, from another network, I would have said — and did — Megyn Kelly," Klein told me. "She just hits the right notes."

But Kelly says Fox was the only other place she wanted to work. "I literally had two hats out there." Kelly told me. "One was WJLA and one was Fox News." (Later, it is worth noting, Kelly modified that self-assessment. Had MSNBC called 10 years earlier, before Fox, she would have gone happily. "I’d have done O.K. there, too," she said.)

3. Kelly’s husband Doug Brunt wrote a novel that is basically based on her 

Megyn Kelly with husband Doug Brunt at the TIME 100 Gala / AP

Megyn Kelly with husband Doug Brunt at the TIME 100 Gala / AP

It’s all fodder for [Brunt’s] novels. His latest, "The Means," revolves around a young litigator, Samantha Davis, who decides she needs to change her life. She seeks a job at the hot cable-news network, UBS, and after a by-the-gut news executive is struck by her beauty and brains, gets her big chance. Under his gentle guidance — she does not require much — success follows. "America wants more," her best friend says.

Readers looking for clues about Kelly’s true political leanings might find them in the book’s dramatic climax, in which Samantha uncovers a scandal that causes a Democratic president to lose his re-election bid. Evidence of right-wing bias? Not so fast: At the very end of the novel, it turns out that Samantha had been manipulated by a source, and that the story she broke was untrue. The Democrat was taken down unfairly. Samantha determines to clear his name. Now you wouldn’t know what to think.

4. Kelly’s high-school aptitude test correctly told her to pursue a news career, but she got rejected from journalism school

Megyn Kelly, host of Fox News Channel's 'The Kelly Files' / AP

Megyn Kelly, host of Fox News Channel's ‘The Kelly Files' / AP

Kelly took a high-school aptitude test that, in a perhaps rare moment of accuracy for such tests, suggested that her ideal career was news. She applied to Syracuse in hopes of attending its well-regarded communications program; she was accepted to the school but rejected from the program, so she majored in political science instead. She won a seat in the student senate and was assigned to a panel that investigated faculty sexual-harassment cases, which in turn, she says, piqued her interest in becoming a prosecutor. But after she got her J.D. from Albany Law School in 1995 and found herself facing $100,000 in student loans, she decided to pursue a better-paying career in corporate litigation.

5. Kelly hates wearing red or blue on TV

Megyn Kelly

AP

A few days before the midterm election last November, Kelly was in her office thinking about wardrobe. Elections, even midterm elections, are major events for television news organizations. Eight different outfits were hanging on a rolling clothes rack beside her desk. "I don’t really like wearing royal blue or red because it’s so anchor-y," she said as she picked through the rack. Kelly is aware that her clothing choices are sometimes parsed for ideological content. "Our critics are always like, ‘She wore red for Republicans.’ They don’t cover it when you wear blue." She fell into a mock whisper, as if to indicate what they might say if they did: " 'Oh, she’s a secret Democrat.' " She raised both hands to her mouth, looked at me and mimed an expression of total horror.

Published under: Fox News, Megyn Kelly