Megyn Kelly is a Fox News anchor and correspondent, and the host of Thursday’s GOP debate. Formerly an accomplished lawyer, Kelly’s show The Kelly File is tops among male viewers aged 25 to 54, a market segment analysts call the “key demographic.” Though her feud with Donald Trump has led to Trump’s skipping the final debate before the Iowa caucus, public opinion has largely been on her side in the matter. Kelly is married to CEO-turned-novelist Douglas Brunt and has three children. Kelly will host the January 28 Fox News/Google Republican Debate.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Her Feud with Donald Trump Led to Him Skipping a Debate
Kelly moderated the August 6 GOP debate on Fox News. In an exchange seen above, she asked Trump a pointed question on his record of comments about women:
Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women. You’ve called women you don’t like, ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ slobs, and disgusting animals…your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?
Trump clearly took exception to the question during the debate, and went on to say that Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever” when she asked the question. After an escalating war featuring personal attacks and allegations of harassment, Trump announced that he would skip the January 28 debate Kelly was moderating for Fox News. While the decision generated some controversy, the network stood by Kelly.
2. Before Television, She Was an Accomplished Lawyer
Kelly attended Syracuse University, earning a B.A. in political science, followed by a law degree from Albany Law School. After college she worked for Bickel & Brewer LLP, during which time she co-wrote an article for the American Bar Association journal Litigation on the role of lawyers who serve on corporate boards of directors. Later in her legal career, she defended Big Three credit bureau Experian in appellate court.
While her law career was successful, Kelly found herself unengaged, and took a class which involved reporting, enjoying it so much that she changed careers. She continues to use her old skill set on air; Congressman Trey Gowdy, himself a former federal prosecutor, said to Politico of her tough interviewing style, “She’s a very good questioner, and you can tell she’s an attorney.”
3. Her Second Husband Is CEO-Turned-Novelist Douglas Brunt
In 2001, Kelly married anesthesiologist Dan Kendall in a Catholic ceremony in Chicago. After five years, the couple divorced amicably, with Kendall blaming their long hours and ambitious natures, saying, “I wanted a wife and she wanted a wife—we both needed someone to cook and clean and support us.” They remain on good terms, with Kendall even appearing as a medical expert on Kelly’s show.
Kelly met her second husband, Douglas Brunt, while working in New York. Formerly the head of a security technology firm, Brunt left the business world to write the New York Times bestseller Ghosts of Manhattan. His second novel, The Means, about a woman who leaves a law career in search of a challenge, is inspired by Kelly. The couple have three children: Edward Yates, Yardley Evans and Thatcher Bray.
4. Her Show The Kelly File Is No. 1 in the Key 25-54 Demographic
Kelly hosted her first show on Fox News, America Live with Megyn Kelly, from 2010 to 2013, at which time she left to take maternity leave for her third child. Upon her return from maternity leave she began her current show The Kelly File, which the network says “capitalizes on Kelly’s skills as a former litigator and provides a platform to discuss developing angles as events unfold.”
In September 2015, The Kelly File ranked #1 among viewers aged 25 to 54, a demographic widely regarded as critical to advertisers. Her win in that demographic broke a 10-year streak for her lead-in show, Bill O’Reilly’s The O’Reilly Factor.
5. Her Net Worth Is Estimated to Be $15 Million
Kelly revealed to Variety that part of her success comes from a willingness to negotiate her salary, something experts find 55 percent of women are apprehensive about. She explained her reasoning to Variety:
I always have people telling me, ‘You’re not going to get that much.’ And I’d say to them, ‘I’m going to get that, and more. Because I’m worth it.’ The smart bet is on me.