One of the more frightening aspects of the feud with Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump during the Presidential campaign was the level vitriol (including death threats) directed at Kelly. Some people (myself included) have been critical of Kelly for doing an easy interview with Trump after they appeared to patch things up. However, the more I learn about what she went through, it’s difficult to judge her for that.
Only since her book, ‘Settle For More’ was released have we been able to get a sense of what was going on, and for Kelly, it was not a pleasant time. For anybody who has faced the wrath of Trump trolls on Twitter alone, it is easy to sympathize with her plight. It’s not a pleasant experience even on a small level. For somebody with Kelly’s high profile, it was enough that death threats were taken very seriously.
Donald Trump knew what kind of power he had, just with his Twitter account. Days before the first GOP presidential debate in 2015, Trump was upset with Kelly about a segment she aired about the Trump campaign. When Kelly told him he didn’t control the editorial content of the ‘Kelly File,’ he threatened to use Twitter against her. She explains what happened in her interview with Anderson Cooper.
It was not long after that, when Trump freaked out, believing Kelly was “unfair” to him as a debate moderate and suggesting she was menstruating at the time. Trump also began taking off on Kelly on Twitter, and that’s when she said it started getting bad.
Right after the debate, one of Trump’s henchmen, Michael Cohen retweeted an account who said Kelly should be “gutted.” This is from Politico, last year:
Donald Trump and his allies have escalated a feud with Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly, with top deputy Michael Cohen retweeting a tweet from an account named “surfersfortrump” that said, “#boycottmegynkelly @realDonaldTrump we can gut her.”
The tweet came after Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate, during which Kelly and Trump clashed onstage over her tough questions about the mogul’s history of taking liberal positions and insulting women he dislikes.
Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump, is not apologizing for the “gut her” retweet.
“It is interesting to note that the only attacks against Mr. Trump last night came from the moderators,” said Cohen, who pointed out that he retweeted many tweets Thursday night, in a statement. “It appeared to all viewers that it was a coordinated effort. Megyn Kelly clearly tried the hardest and failed as Mr. Trump has been deemed the winner of last night’s debate by multiple polls and media outlets.”
In Kelly’s book, she reveals the threats got so bad she needed an armed security guard with her at all times, including a family vacation to Disney World. Worse yet, a Fox News executive appealed to Michael Cohen on Kelly’s behalf to explain the situation. Kelly spoke of what happened:
After Trump verbally attacked her, "we had security guards the whole year," @MegynKelly says on @AC360 https://t.co/02L47iqC7l
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 17, 2016
As Cooper says, the fact that an executive had to be thinking that is remarkable. That Cohen didn’t seem to give a crap is just horrible. People talk about Steve Bannon being an issue but there is a question of what role creeps like Michael Cohen and Dan Scavino are going to have in a Trump administration.
This raises the question as to whether or not Kelly went easy on on Trump when she interviewed him because she was concerned Trump would go nuts again if he deemed the interview to be “unfair.” She obviously wanted the death threats and the harassment to go away. Would that have driven her decision? Possibly and if so, I wouldn’t blame her.