If you've been keeping up with politics and the presidential primary, then you've likely heard about the exclusive Megyn Kelly Presents interview on May 17. Surprisingly, though, it seems that after the fact, Kelly helped Donald Trump's campaign with this highly-anticipated interview that Trump knew he needed to nail.
This interview was Kelly and Trump's first one-on-one encounter since their less-than-friendly relationship began in August after the first presidential debate. About a week before the interview aired, Kelly teased clips from her conversation with The Donald, in which it was revealed that he was forced to finally open up about his anger. Basically, in the interview, Kelly asked Trump if his anger throughout his campaign was real or if it was all a strategy. "Well, I’m a real person. I don’t say, ‘Oh gee, I’m angry tonight, but tomorrow you’re my best friend,’" Trump told Kelly.
Before the interview aired, I would have guessed that Kelly's hard-hitting questions would have actually hurt Trump's campaign. After all, she confronted Trump about his Carly Fiorina's "that face" comment, as well as his argument that John McCain wasn't a war hero. However, after the interview ended, it became clear that people warmed up to Trump and actually seemed to like him more.
Well, that is to say that many non-media viewers seemed to appreciate Trump more after the interview than they did before it aired. Slate Contributor Isaac Chotiner penned a critical review of Trump and Kelly's conversation, calling it "a disgusting, fawning interview." Chotiner criticized Kelly of playing softball with Trump throughout the interview:
Kelly then turned to the death of Trump’s brother, and Trump’s divorces, asking him mawkishly whether he learned anything “about love” or “about himself” from these experiences. She followed up by asking if he had ever been “emotionally hurt,” before turning back to his penchant for insults. By the time she said that she wanted to “talk about us,” any hope of substance was lost.
Chotiner made a fair point: I think a lot of viewers, myself included, were hoping for a more volatile interview. I was hoping to see Trump and Kelly engage in more of a debate, preferably with Trump making at least one insensitive comment that I could write about. But instead, Trump was surprisingly calm throughout the event, which was evident throughout his tame live-tweeting of the interview, as well. And it was this unusually calm demeanor that seemingly led to an overwhelming support for Trump following the interview.
Honestly, I was shocked to see this praise for Trump emerge after his interview with Kelly. To me, Trump seemed boring and low-energy during his conversation with Kelly, but that's likely because his mellow demeanor was in direct contrast to his typical yelling and name-calling. It's also interesting to note how this interview seemingly helped Trump gain support from viewers who previous disliked him when he told Kelly that his volatile behavior was what has made him so successful:
I think if I didn’t conduct myself in the way I’ve done I don’t think I would’ve been successful. If I would’ve been soft, or presidential...if I would not have fought back the way I’ve fought back I don’t think I would’ve been successful.
Although the interview was met with mixed feelings from viewers, the one surprising thing to come of it was newfound support for Trump among those who perhaps didn't previously support him. Kelly's interviewing skills may have been criticized by some media outlets, but she did what no one has been to able to do thus far: make Trump appear genuine and authentic, which could translate into gaining new support from voters moving forward.