She reiterated that a few times during her one-on-one interview with Cosmopolitan editor in chief Joanna Coles Monday morning at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square. The occasion was the Advertising Week conference, in which “The Kelly File” anchor was meant to talk about “talent” and the “future state of American pop culture.”
But Coles pressed on with a line of newsier questions about Kelly’s views on how Trump handled her questioning of his “misogynistic” remarks on women weeks earlier, which eventually erupted in the presidential candidate going on the offensive against the journalist. Kelly found herself as the story rather than a reporter covering it and, despite taking a well-timed vacation shortly after, the journalist and her network are still sparring with him.
“Your thing with Donald Trump, was that planned?” Coles asked coyly.
“Trump was very unhappy about the questions I asked him,” Kelly explained. “The lens that I was coming at was, Hillary Clinton is likely be the Democratic nominee, and you’re likely to hear these quotes if the Republicans choose you as their guy. It’s likely to be put in an ad and it will be used against you. How are you going to deal with it? If this is an ad, it will be used against you.”
Kelly said the theme of the questioning was “electability,” and that the debate moderators from Fox were all “punching” at the candidates.
Coles noted that Kelly’s “punch didn’t seem that strong.”
“I’ll just say this: He’s a passionate man and I think that passion has appealed to a lot of people, and in some cases, it surprises a lot of people. I think that’s all I’m going to say,” she noted.
Coles pivoted to Trump’s CNN debate, in which he faced off with Carly Fiorina.
“What I liked about what she did — it wasn’t about Carly and Donald — it was about female empowerment. As I said, a minute ago, I really don’t like playing the victim. I don’t like people who do male or female,” Kelly offered. “I just think it’s better to find your own empowerment in those circumstances. One of my life mottos is: ‘Head down, shoulders back, forge forward.’”
The editor went back to Trump and asked why he was attacking Kelly.
“I don’t know. I really don’t want to talk about that,” she demurred. “He is a fighter and that appeals to a lot of people…when he’s upset with somebody he fights even harder and I get that.”
Her rather apolitical stance on Trump was later credited to her days as a litigator, which she said allow her to see “both sides” of any argument.
Coles steered the conversation to whether the country is ready for a female president.
“I think it’s long past time,” Kelly said, but cited her coverage of Fiorina and Clinton as a testament to how women are not seen in the same light as men. They are still described as “shrill” and “strident” or “too angry” by the media and the public, she noted. “If we were men, they’d think the exact same thing and think we were tough.”
Although Kelly refrained from criticism of any candidate throughout the talk, she did offer one light jab at Clinton, who is navigating how to reveal a warmer side while remaining presidential. “Now, I don’t necessarily think it serves her to sit down with Lena Dunham and talk about Lenny Kravitz’s you know,” Kelly said, referring to a recent interview in which the duo talked about the pop star’s penis.
“You’re still trying to convince people when you’re running…you should see me as your president,” Kelly said. “It’s a tough balance between being relatable and showing a softer side and still maintaining the dignity of the office that you seek.”
Coles pointed out that Kelly hasn’t yet had Clinton on her own show even though the journalist has invited her to appear.
As a parting shot, the editor asked Kelly what she wants to do next, keeping in mind that “no one has filled Barbara Walters’ slot” at ABC.
“Would you fill it?” Coles asked.
“Absolutely,” replied Kelly, who declined to say when her Fox contract is up, but offered that her boss, Roger Ailes, said he would provide ample opportunity for Walters’ sit-down-style interviews — on Fox.