Conservative

O’Connor: SU alumna Megyn Kelly’s Fox News career should be commended

Syracuse native Megyn Kelly deserves more credit at a time when equitable reporting is few and far between.

Before all of the lights turned on and the cameras flashed, the Fox News host earned her B.A. in political science at Syracuse University. Despite now being one of the most prominent women in modern media, Kelly recently told Variety magazine that she is unsure about her future after Fox News’ contract for “The Kelly File” ends in 2017. She explained her hesitancy is rooted in the “brain damage” that comes along with being in the public eye during primetime news.

But the idea of Kelly leaving should be concerning because she is one of the only commentators that challenges traditionally conservative ideas for healthy debate. Her balanced perspective ultimately raises the bar for what comprehensive reporting should be in a television cycle riddled with biased news — an accomplishment that deserves more recognition.

While Fox is generally known to have a conservative bias and viewership, Kelly has stood out among her peers as a true independent with no affiliation to any political party. She has even noted before that her colleagues, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, have been outward with their personal beliefs during shows.

Not only does Kelly add a stern element to primetime television as a woman at the top of a field primarily dominated by men, but she doesn’t pander to conservative guests on her show like Hannity and O’Reilly, making her a fitting candidate for the Fox News “fair and balanced” model of reporting — a goal that is rarely met.

In this way Kelly sets the example that just because someone may be more conservative, it doesn’t mean that they have to come down hard in a certain way on every issue. More fair debates about whether or not conservatives are in the right should take place on Fox News. And “The Kelly File” promotes that type of essential moderate environment rather than an unquestioned safe haven for conservative ideas.

“Megyn’s charming personality and hard-hitting journalistic talent is a combination that makes her a force to be reckoned with in the world of television news,” said Julia Porterfield, the founder and editor-in-chief of conservative commentary site Red Millennial, in an email. “Unlike many of her colleagues at Fox News, Megyn rarely lets her own political ideology influence her reporting which is refreshing in today’s vastly polarized political arena.”

But her willingness to call out conservatives has been cause for controversy. Most famously, it is her rivalry with Republican Party frontrunner Donald Trump, who will be visiting the city of Syracuse this week. Trump has berated Kelly for asking unfair questions regarding his past remarks about women. The feud continued for months, which eventually resulted in him skipping a Fox News debate that Kelly was moderating right before the Iowa Caucus.

From the perspective of a Trump supporter, it’s impressive that Kelly didn’t give in to Trump’s demands after receiving backlash and even that “The Kelly File” was still popular on a conservative network while critiquing many of Trump’s stances. Though the case could be made that Kelly was too critical of Trump, it shouldn’t be disregarded that she has rightfully discussed his campaign in both positive and negative lights.

Both sides of the argument have merit for conservatives, but that doesn’t take away from her journalism. If anything, Kelly’s name — rarely heard among famous graduates from SU — should inspire those who may pursue careers at popular political outlets such as CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.

When SU is brought up in conversation, often times, the same names are tossed around. But the same students that admire the likes of Bob Costas and Marv Albert should follow in Kelly’s approach of not relentlessly hammering home the same rhetoric 24/7 that millennial audiences are tired of.

In this way, Kelly is a great example for what should be the accepted standard of journalism. As someone who worked at Fox and is as accomplished and impartial in their work as Kelly, she should be recognized just as much as one of the most successful names to come out of SU.

Kyle O’Connor is a sophomore sport management major and political science minor. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at kdoconno@syr.edu.

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