The advocacy style of Kelly—who values being seen in mainstream media circles as a respectable journalist, a somehow neutral arbiter of the news—that Trump has exposed is toxic in the long run for her career and for her network. As she’s risen as a popular anchor, the network for which she works has worked overtime and spent millions of dollars to present her as a modern Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow. They’ve painted a picture of Kelly as a news woman who tells America the truth, no matter what it is, in a fair and balanced manner.
But what Trump has done in a truly special manner is expose that fallacy. It’s not that Trump’s war with Kelly isn’t petty—it is, and it is probably counterproductive to be fighting with a television personality for weeks on end as he’s soaring in the polls. He could be fighting with the Mexican or Chinese governments or with Democrats or his fellow GOP candidates—all of which would be more conducive to helping him earn more supporters—but Trump isn’t someone who backs down easily–and since Kelly came after him, not the other way around, he feels like he needs to win. Well, in the regard of whether or not Kelly is in fact impartial, Trump has a decisive victory.
That doesn’t mean that Kelly will see a drop in ratings or a loss of status in the media. She’s still the top dog on the Fox News Channel, and her show still gets incredible ratings. Until a credible competitor emerges—CNN and MSNBC certainly haven’t been able to make the cut—she’ll remain there, just like O’Reilly and Hannity have. But Trump has taken one thing away from her that she and her bosses at Fox can never replace, no matter how much time or money they spend on it: the appearance of impartiality.
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