Dec 6, 2023 - Politics & Policy

What to know about Megyn Kelly as she returns as GOP debate moderator

Megyn Kelly visits the SiriusXM Studios on October 11, 2023 in New York City

Megyn Kelly visits the SiriusXM Studios on October 11 in New York City. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

Megyn Kelly will make her return to televised presidential debates on Wednesday night to help co-host the fourth Republican debate on NewsNation.

The big picture: A longtime Fox News anchor, Kelly made waves in 2015 when she famously clashed with Trump during a presidential debate. She eventually left the network for NBC News before venturing into podcast and radio work.

  • Kelly is co-hosting the debate with NewsNation's Elizabeth Vargas and The Washington Free Beacon's Eliana Johnson.
  • For the relatively new NewsNation, whose viewing numbers remain eclipsed by the larger networks, the debate offers a chance to attract a larger audience.

What is Kelly's relationship to Trump?

Although Trump won't be at the debate, for the moderators and the four candidates on the stage — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — he will remain a topic of conversation.

  • Vargas told Politico ahead of the debate that the moderators plan to "ask a lot of questions" about Trump.

Catch up quick: Kelly's infamous exchange with Trump came in August 2015, during the first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 race.

  • As one of the moderators, Kelly confronted Trump about past derogatory remarks he made about women and asked if this sounded "like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?"
  • While Trump responded to the question by dismissing the need for political correctness and hinting that he could "maybe not be" so nice to Kelly.

After the debate, Trump repeatedly made disparaging remarks about Kelly on social media and during interviews and events. In early 2016, he boycotted another debate because Kelly was a moderator.

  • Tensions between the two eventually eased and Trump sat down for a one-on-one interview with Kelly in May 2016.

Kelly's time at NBC News

Kelly left Fox News in 2017 to join NBC News with a three-year contract.

  • Her stint at NBC proved short-lived, ending abruptly in 2018.
  • Her departure was considered long overdue due to low ratings and tensions with executives, but her controversial defense of the use of blackface for Halloween costumes reportedly "sealed her fate."
  • She officially split from NBC News in January 2019 but was paid the remaining portion of her $69 million contract.

Her career since

Kelly returned to a full-time journalism job in 2021, hosting a weekday talk show on SiriusXM.

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