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Opinion

Megyn Kelly’s Debut at NBC was Very Uninspiring

While I am skeptical of Megyn Kelly (as I am of all beautiful people paid millions of dollars to provide us with news and opinion), I like her more than most of the mindless infotainment brigade. She is smart, has a sense of humor, and, yes, she is easy on the eyes.

Since she is also clearly more conservative than the average host of a non-Fox News television show (almost anyone who hasn’t at some point worked directly for the Democratic Party is), I also really want her new Sunday-night NBC news magazine show to be a success. However, after the much-hyped debut of the show, it is pretty obvious that this program is never going to be seen again once NFL football takes over Sunday nights on the peacock network.

Kelly managed to get a tremendous first interview subject in Russian “President” Vladimir Putin, which, given our current political climate, had the potential to be the interview of the year. But while Kelly appear to give it a game effort, the results were like a prize fight between one boxer who was trying to take the battle very seriously, and another who appeared to think the whole thing was just a big joke.

While obviously Kelly can’t be held responsible for the fact that Putin decided to do shtick rather than answer her questions seriously, she is accountable for how she and her show handled this reality. Here are some of my observations on the Putin interview itself:

  • How do you get Putin for a sit down interview and only give the ensuing results about seven minutes of an hour-long show? There was nothing scheduled for the remained of the hour which was remotely as compelling. They easily could have blown out at least one of the unmemorable segments and run them another time, but for some bizarre reason, decided not to do so.
  • Assuming there was nothing else interesting which came from their interview (which is a damming indictment of Kelly’s interviewing skills if somehow true), then there should have at least been an interview with a skeptical Russian expert to provide some context for whether anything Putin said can actually be believed.
  • While Kelly did give it a good effort on the “Russian/Trump” collusion issue, there was really only one question which I was interested in hearing Putin get asked, and yet Kelly apparently failed to ask it. How could she not ask him, “Why did you want Donald Trump to win our election?” (which is also a question I wish Trump’s fans would finally ask themselves)
  • There was a remarkable lack of follow up questions to the many absurd things which Putin said during the interview. The first that comes to mind was when Putin alleged that U.S. Intelligence agencies may very well have assassinated President John F. Kennedy. This is obviously ludicrous since, thanks to The National Enquirer and Donald Trump, we now know that he was killed by the father of Ted Cruz.
  • It was fascinating to see Showtime run a commercial during the show promoting their far more extensive interviews with Putin which were conducted by Oliver Stone. The time Putin spent with Stone is obviously where he got his nutty JFK assassination conspiracy theories.
  • The bottom line is that I didn’t feel like I learned very much about Putin. My primary take away is that he enjoys screwing with the American media and public on this collusion issue and knows exactly the correct responses to appeal to Trump’s cult following. I’m pretty confident that Sean Hannity is going to be so enamored that he asks his old pal Kelly for Vladimir’s digits, or at least an email address.

What made the shortness of the Putin portion of the show particularly baffling is that the rest of the program was simply the boring boilerplate seen on many failed news magazine shows before. The premise of the show seems to be that at 7 pm on Sundays there are a lot of viewers who want to watch “60 Minutes” type programming at that hour, but want it to come in a MUCH softer, estrogen-laden, package.
If the program didn’t directly compete with 60 Minutes then I guess there might be some theoretical logic to this philosophy. But since this is not the case, and because the show doesn’t remotely play to Kelly’s strengths (live interviews and contentious debate), it will take a momentous event for the show to make any significant mark in this increasingly crowded and vacuous media landscape.

John Ziegler hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at johnz@mediaite.com.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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