Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly Is What Happens When Mediocrity and Whiteness Come Together

NBC screenshot
NBC screenshot

The most frustrating thing about Megyn Kelly’s new NBC show is that it exists. In the promos leading up to the premiere of Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly, the former Fox News propagandist reveals five things we can look forward to on the show. We’re supposed to forget that while at FOX News, she was smug, condescending, and, yes, racist throughout her stint there. The days in which she wanted it to be known that Santa is white and that’s that.

OK, Megyn Kelly, Santa Claus is still white, but are you also still fixated on a false, lily-white aesthetic for Jesus? Do you still think that black teenage girls tackled by police more or less have it coming? Is the New Black Panther Party still out to get white folks at a polling station near you? Do you still believe that former first lady Michelle Obama helps perpetuate a culture of victimization? Or, if it’s easier, how do you feel about all the racist things you’ve said over the years?

We’re supposed to forget all of that, though. Instead, we should chuckle along about Santa Claus being white as we tune in to Megyn Kelly, serious journalist. Speaking of the Obamas, Kelly revealed in April 2016 that she would love the chance to interview them. She said:

I would love to interview Barack Obama, and I’d love to interview Michelle Obama. Have you ever seen her on Fox News? The Obamas are not big fans. I understand that. I still think they should do it. I think they would be able to reach a lot of people they don’t normally reach, and I’d be very fair.


Not only should neither Obama ever bother to give her the time of day, but if the premier episode of Kelly’s new show is any indication, it wouldn’t be that enchanting an interview anyhow. Kelly did have what was referred to as “a tough conversation” with Vladimir Putin. (Insert low-level church applause for the soloist who everyone notices is flat here.)

It was tough in that Putin is a murderous autocrat and noticeably made mention of Kelly’s young daughter in a panel Kelly moderated prior to their sit-down interview. Yeah, it’s tough in that Putin has no qualms about killing journalists like Kelly, but not so much in terms of Kelly’s interview skills. Putin was Putin: arrogant, willfully dishonest, and more or less rubbing his dick on the forehead of the United States of America.

If you are familiar with the likes of Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer, you are keenly aware of how challenging interviews with dictators can be, but also that they can nonetheless be quite rewarding. That was not the case here because Kelly does not have the range yet.

Kelly gets a lot of unwarranted credit for what happened during her infamous exchange with that real-estate-scamming megalomaniac at one of the Republican presidential-primary debates. Kelly did indeed draw a jarring reaction from him then and in the days after, but not so much because she asked some amazing question. No, he’s just a brat who can’t take any form of criticism—especially not from a woman, since he is a sexist buffoon.


As an actual interviewer, her flaws were on full display during her first prime-time special on Fox’s broadcast network in May of last year. Kelly wasn’t even as good as the delightful Robin Roberts in interviews with celebrities such as Laverne Cox. In that same special, she gave Donald Trump Saddle Tan Nixon a fluff interview. The end result of that special was that she exposed her weaknesses and tanked in the ratings.

Yet, here we are all the same. This isn’t to say that Kelly won’t get better. Likewise, no one is perfect on his or her very first show. Overall, the show is basically Dateline repackaged with Kelly as host giving you sprinkles of hard news and what is described as “inspiration” (say, when she talks to kids about politeness toward the end of her debut). Even so, it still all makes me recall Omarosa Manigault telling Bethenny Frankel on Frankel’s now-canceled talk show that as a white woman, “You get to be mediocre.”


Kelly isn’t exceptional enough to warrant this show; nor has Kelly done anything to immediately warrant her ability to just push Tamron Hall and Al Roker out of their successful third hour of Today for whatever hers will become. What Kelly is, though, is a pretty blond white woman who exists in the era of a racist demagogue president. A lot of executives saw his victory and, in turn, also wanted to “make America white again.”

Thus far, that’s going about as well as anyone not as clueless would expect: Her debut finished third in total viewers behind ABC’s NBA Finals pregame special and a rerun of 60 Minutes on CBS.


Whether or not Kelly improves is beside the point. This is a woman who has benefited from whiteness for much of her professional life. She’s unapologetic about her racist past because it has given way to her undeserving present. At the very least, she should have the audacity to be exceptional, but I suppose that would be too much like right, so the snore NBC presented last night is the one it deserves.

Michael Arceneaux is the author of "I Can't Date Jesus," which will be released July 24, 2018 by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, but go ahead and pre-order it now.

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I love the racism you enthusiastically express.
Obama was invited many times by Bill O’Rielly, but he was to chicken shit to appear.