Another day, another white, male Trump supporter throwing odd insults at Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. Kelly has famously feuded with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump himself, in an exchange which led to Trump's immensely icky comment about "blood coming out of her wherever." And on Tuesday night, Kelly found herself being mansplained to by former speaker of the House (and ardent Trump supporter) Newt Gingrich, who accused Kelly of disproportionately covering the allegations of groping and sexual assault against Trump because she was "fascinated with sex." It's not surprising, of course, that Gingrich would argue in defense of Trump, but watching the video of Megyn Kelly’s interview with Newt Gingrich is honestly super uncomfortable, even if you aren't a fan of Kelly.
According to The New York Times, Gingrich was a guest on The Kelly File to discuss the election, and the two spoke during the live broadcast about the two candidates' current standings in the polls and what it might mean on Election Day. But Gingrich took issue with the public uproar that resulted over the leaked Trump tapes, in which Trump can be heard boasting about groping and making unwanted sexual advances towards women, according to The Washington Post. The GOP nominee later dismissed his comments as nothing more than "locker room talk," and added that "nobody has more respect for women" than he does, according to Bloomberg.
Given Trump's stance, Gingrich argued that the recent allegations by a number of women who have said, according to Reuters, that Trump sexually assaulted them, were receiving an unfair amount of coverage on Kelly's show — particularly compared to, for example, the claim that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had been paid $225,000 for a private speech by a bank in Brazil.
Trump has since also refuted the sexual assault allegations, calling them "absolutely false," according to Reuters, and said, "I've never met these people. I don't even know who they are. They're made-up stories." But Kelly told Gingrich that it's her job to report on them regardless. And, well, that's when things got really awkward. (Trump's campaign hasn't responded to Romper's requests for comment regarding the assault and harassment allegations.)
Responding to Gingrich's claim that media coverage of the assault allegations shows a bias against Trump, Kelly began to make an argument that a story about alleged sexual assault by a presidential candidate really is a big story. But Gingrich cut her off, and threw some angry barbs Kelly's way, complete with finger wagging:
I'm sick and tired of people like you, using language that's inflammatory, that's not true ... When you use the words [sexual predator], you took a position, and that is very unfair of you to do that, Megyn. I think that is exactly the bias people are upset by.
But Kelly hit back, and replied,
I think that your defensiveness on this may speak volumes, sir. What I said is, if Donald Trump is a sexual predator, then it’s a big story. And what we saw on that tape was Trump himself saying that he likes to grab women by the genitals and kiss them against their will. That’s what we saw. Then we saw 10 women come forward after he actually denied doing it at a debate, to say: ‘That was untrue; he did it to me; he did it to me.’
We saw reporters, we saw people who had worked with him, people from Apprentice, and so on and so forth. He denies it it all, which is his right – we don’t know what the truth is ... [But] as a media story, we don't get to say that 10 women are lying. We have to cover that story, sir.
After Gingrich then asked Kelly why she doesn't think that the news of Clinton's speech also deserves attention, Kelly responded that she did indeed think it was worth covering, and, in fact, that she did cover it. Not impressed, Gingrich said, "Do you want to go back to the tapes of your show recently? You are fascinated with sex, and you don't care about public policy." (Yikes.)
But Kelly didn't take the bait, instead calling Gingrich out on his strangely personal attack against her:
You know what Mr. Speaker, I’m not fascinated by sex, but I am fascinated by the protection of women and understanding what we’re getting in the Oval Office and I think the American voters would like to know—
Gingrich then interrupted Kelly, and quipped, "and therefore we're going to send Bill Clinton back to [the] East Wing, because after all, you were worried about sexual predators."
Former President Bill Clinton's own history of alleged sexual assault has been a popular argument against Hillary Clinton, and one in which Trump himself has used in his own defense. In fact, Trump even called out Bill Clinton's past in his own apology after the leaked tapes became public. In his initial comments responding to the Trump tapes, Trump tried to downplay what he'd said by arguing, “Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course," according to The Guardian. And in the more formal apology that followed, Trump said,
I’ve said some foolish things but there is a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.
(Clinton's camp has not returned Romper's request for a comment on Trump's allegation about the Clintons.)
Either way, there's no denying that the sexual assault allegations against Trump certainly are a big story, regardless of whether Gingrich thinks the coverage has been overblown. And honestly, even if he feels it was unfair, pegging the blame for that squarely on Kelly's shoulders (and insinuating that it's all because she has a preoccupation with sex), is uncalled for.
The reaction to the interview has been intensely mixed on social media though, with some praising Gingrich for bashing Kelly, and others siding with Kelly and condemning Gingrich's behavior.
Many others, meanwhile, have criticized both parties, arguing that while Gingrich was out of line, Kelly's reported history of making racially-insensitive comments should disqualify her from being praised for her position on Trump. According to Bust, Kelly has previously been quoted as saying, for example, that First Lady Michelle Obama's commencement speech about her own history with racist inequality was an example of a growing "culture of victimization," and that Sandra Bland's death could be attributed to the fact that she fought back against her own arrest, saying “even if you know the cop is in the wrong, comply and complain later.”
Regardless of where you stand on either Kelly or Gingrich, the one thing that's pretty clear is that it was an intense and uncomfortable interview. But given the current political climate, the often-outrageous campaigns being run on both sides, and the fact that Election Day is just around the corner? It's also a huge understatement to say that tensions are running high amongst anyone who is even sort of paying attention.