Megyn Kelly Will Moderate the Next G.O.P. Debate, on NewsNation
Category: News & PoliticsVia: hallux • 3 weeks ago • 19 comments
By: Michael M. Grynbaum - NYT
Megyn Kelly, whose high-flying career as a Fox News anchor fell to earth after an ill-advised move to NBC — and then remade herself as a conservative podcaster and radio host — is set to return to the political spotlight next month as a moderator for the next Republican primary debate.
The event, set for Dec. 6 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., is the fourth meeting of the party’s presidential candidates. Former President Donald J. Trump, who famously clashed (and later made up) with Ms. Kelly during the 2016 election, is unlikely to attend.
The debate will be hosted by the upstart television network NewsNation, a 24-hour cable news station that Nexstar Media Group owns. Its selection by the Republican Party is a breakthrough moment of sorts for a channel that is still unfamiliar to many viewers. The channel has aggressively hired veteran anchors and producers in recent years, but its audience remains small compared with rivals like Fox News or MSNBC.
Ms. Kelly will be joined at the moderators’ desk by Elizabeth Vargas, a NewsNation anchor, and Eliana Johnson, editor in chief of The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news site. The Free Beacon and SiriusXM, which airs Ms. Kelly’s radio show, are sponsors of the debate. The event will also be shown on digital platforms and local affiliates of the CW, the broadcast network that Nexstar owns.
NewsNation, which presents itself as a centrist, independent news service, has been dogged in the past by accusations of conservative bias, staff resignations and reports of dysfunction. Recently, it has added a number of familiar on-air personalities, including Dan Abrams, Ashleigh Banfield and Ms. Vargas, who was previously an anchor of “World News Tonight” and “20/20” on ABC. Chris Cuomo, who was fired by CNN in 2021 amid ethics concerns, is the channel’s 8 p.m. host.
The network has also hired numerous former employees of Fox News. They include Chris Stirewalt, the former Fox News politics editor who was fired because of his role in the network’s election night call in Arizona that enraged Mr. Trump, and Leland Vittert, a former correspondent who left the network after his critical reporting on Mr. Trump angered Lachlan Murdoch , the chief executive of Fox News’s parent company. Cherie Grzech, who led Fox News’s politics and campaign coverage for many years, is also now at the network.
Political parties typically team up with a major broadcast or cable channel to host their primary debates, with an eye toward achieving the largest possible audience. Last month, NewsNation averaged 118,000 viewers in prime time on weeknights, up 23 percent from a year earlier. Sean Compton, the Nexstar executive who oversees NewsNation, said on Thursday that the debate would be “an opportunity to introduce more Americans” to the channel’s “outstanding journalism.”
Other participants suggested that viewers could expect a different tone. Ms. Johnson, of The Free Beacon, said the debate would occur “outside of the mainstream media echo chamber” and provide Republicans with “a debate where conservative ideas and values will be the terrain and not the target.”
Ms. Kelly promised an entertaining night. “It will be the margarita of debates,” she said in a statement. “Spicy, fun and somewhat intoxicating. Looking forward to it.”