Currently ensconced behind colleague Bill O'Reilly's "The
O'Reilly Factor" at the No. 2 spot on U.S. cable news ratings,
Kelly's "The Kelly File" draws about 1.9 million viewers nightly
on average, more than double her nearest 9 p.m. competitor.
Known for her lawyer's poise and tenacity, Kelly has also
chiseled out a role at the network popular among conservatives
as someone unafraid to call out her older male colleagues on
issues like gender.
Kelly, 43, who recently was named to Time magazine's 100 most
influential people list, spoke with Reuters about the network's
role in the news media, sexism in the workplace and what
happened when she called comedian Jon Stewart "mean."
Q: Do you see the Time magazine distinction, where you
are placed alongside the likes of pop singer Miley Cyrus and
Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as a notch in
A: I wouldn't say it's an accomplishment so much as it's
an acknowledgement of something I felt over the past six or
seven months since I've taken this job, which is just a growing
market power, and that's good. I guess that's to be expected
when they give you the microphone at 9 p.m. on the Fox News
Channel. You're going to have a bigger profile. You're going to
have a bigger voice.
Q: You and your network have often been a favorite
punching bag for Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's "The Daily
A: Stewart doesn't bother me as much as he used to. He
used to do these segments on me all the time, and then one day
on the air I said he was mean and then he called me up, and we
had an hour-long talk. He explained that he didn't mean to be
mean and that he does satire and that he claimed I was 'one of
the three journalists he respects.'
I said, 'Well, it sounds like you're looking for absolution, and
I'm not giving it.' We had a good laugh. He was very
good-natured. But I understand what he does.
Q: Have you run into any sexism as a woman in TV media?
A: I had more sexist encounters as a lawyer than I had as a
journalist. There are so many of us (women) in broadcast
journalism that we have more power. It's not to say that there's
no sexism or discrimination against women, but I think we have
more power. In law, especially back in '95 when I was breaking
in, it was much more of an old boys' network.
[to top of second column]
Q: You also have a reputation for challenging your colleagues
on air, specifically on sexism.
A: I was always a strong personality. I was never an
introvert. But I think that ability to control an interview and
stand up to strong, powerful people was developed in my legal
practice. I was a small-town girl who wasn't surrounded at all by
any powerful people or anybody with any connections growing up, so I
had no practice nor was I ever at the top of my class or being told
that great things were ahead of me. I was popular and I enjoyed
that, and my mother kept telling me I better take typing so I'd have
something to fall back on. I didn't know what the future held, but
once I got my law degree I started to feel like, 'OK, I'm a serious
Q: Your colleague Shepard Smith has said he believes the
network is an underdog despite being atop the ratings. Do you feel
the same way?
A: I don't know if I would sign on to underdogs. I know what
he means. I guess I would say, 'outliers.' Oftentimes it feels like
Fox stands alone in the media on certain stories. Benghazi is a good
example where we've been covering that story because many of us
believe that it is a story and that we haven't gotten the full truth
on what happened. And then, lo and behold, several months will pass
something will come out to prove that we were right. ...
So, I don't mind being one of the outliers. Sometimes I think
there's value in that and some of these stories get completely blown
off by many in the mainstream media ... but that is like as
(colleague) Brit Hume used to say, 'Like picking money up off the
street,' because it's a story that's just waiting there for somebody
to grab it and tell. And if we don't tell it at Fox News, in all
likelihood some of these stories won't get told.
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Mary Milliken and Ken Wills)
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