Megyn Kelly masters Fox defense: Play

Host's response to the 'Santa is just white' comment is straight out of the Fox playbook

Megyn Kelly might be the new kid in the Fox News primetime lineup, but she’s mastered the oldest trick in the network’s playbook – namely, playing the victim.

On Friday, Kelly used the first 18 minutes of her program, “The Kelly File,” to discuss the “firestorm of controversy” unleashed, as she put it, by her statement earlier in the week that Santa Claus and Jesus were both white – the former expressed as a reassurance to any children who might happen to be watching.

Yet Kelly’s ultimate explanation for the hubbub – which was driven as much by the sheer comedy of her earnestness, given the subject matter, as anything else – was the following: “Fox News, and yours truly, are big targets for many people.”

That’s true, of course, but returning again and again to that response – that Fox is being attacked by “vile” people who are “smear merchants,” as Bill O’Reilly is fond of describing the channel’s critics – is a defense mechanism helpfully designed to squelch any further discussion.

Because if the people who are criticizing you are bad – even evil – then you needn’t worry about whether they might have a point in suggesting you said something callous, or at the very least, spoke inarticulately. You are shielded, practically inoculated.

Kelly did host a couple of African-American guests to discuss the matter this time, although she didn’t help herself much by rather cavalierly noting in regard to the question of what Jesus actually looked like, “As I’ve learned in the past two days, that is far from settled.”

Honestly? Before Wednesday she had never heard that Jesus might not have resembled Jeffrey Hunter in “King of Kings?”

Yet that’s about as close to a correction as Kelly, as one of Fox’s established stars, is apt to get. Because the built-in advantage of the “We’re targets” defense is that it means never having to say you’re sorry.

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