Can Megyn Kelly’s New Daily Show Get Her Old Ratings Back?

Megyn Kelly has had a long history of going from everybody’s media darling, downgraded to “meh” by viewers, then unceremoniously moves on to something else. It seems she is repeating her pattern, moving out of news and investigative journalism to being a host on the Today Show. Her first venture was for a local ABC station in Washington D.C. Based on her experience in covering headline news stories, particularly the 2004 election and an active Supreme Court changing of the guard, she moved on to Fox News. CNN also wanted her, and this choice will make some people wonder if her choices paralleled the voter’s dilemma of the 2016 presidential election.

Speaking of presidential elections, Kelly also covered the 2012 election for Fox News. She had her own show, The Kelly File, which at times rivaled Fox’s 20 year media cash cow The O’Reilly Factor in the ratings department. However, not all Fox News viewers were enamored by her. The foundation of popularity at Fox began to crumble when she got into an exchange with then-candidate Donald Trump. Her positions irked more than a few pro-Trump viewers, and combined with an acrimonious interview with Newt Gingrich, her career with Fox was on the ropes.

Give credit where credit is due. Kelly took the opportunity to create a news special in May, 2016 that she used as an on air resume for interested networks to review. Her contract was coming to an end, so she had everything to gain. Add to the crumbing foundation her accusations of sexual harassment against Fox News executive Roger Ailes, and you have a self-created emergency exit.

She moved on to NBC, where we pick up the pieces. Her announced responsibilities at her new position were to be news reporter, having her own daytime show, and a nighttime show as well. The prime time nighttime interview show has been a ratings and journalistic disaster. Audiences do not seem interested much in her stories or her persona anymore and, for someone who is supposed to boost ratings and build viewer numbers, whatever she had at Fox has faded quickly. Now is the daytime experiment.

Those familiar with daytime shows are not giving her much of a chance for success. The most common reason for her steep uphill climb is that she does not have the warm personality needed to make viewers want to connect with her. Her journalistic style in discussing politics and in one-on-one interviews works in that venue, but people who watch daytime have to like you. Think of it like trying to date a mathematician or computer programmer — the Big Bang Theory type.

The first show is in the history books and the criticism has been harsh. One reviewer said NBC tried to create a talk show “bride of Frankenstein” by sewing together the best parts of Kelly. Referring back to the kind of personality a TV daytime host needs, she started off the show by saying she was “kind of done with politics for now.” Two things are wrong with this apparently thoughtless statement. One, virtually everything is political in the culture, so divorcing herself from politics is not something viewers are likely to be interested in watching. Two, it doesn’t cement stability in the eyes of the audience. Does her statement mean if she returns to politics she will leave the show? Or perhaps change the tone of the show?

In a word — ugh.

Megyn believes she has a lot of rope from NBC to get acclimated to her new gig. But you know what they say about giving people enough rope.


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