A woman of great strength and integrity is emerging from the tumultuous American election campaign — and it’s not Hillary Clinton.
Fox News presenter Megyn Kelly continues to stand up to bullying from the men to whom her network has given considerable support, including Republican nominee Donald Trump.
And she has dared to make “protection of women” one of the top issues of this campaign.
Her latest spectacular clash was with Trump surrogate and former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich yesterday, who told her and prime time Fox viewers Ms Kelly’s interest in the claims of sexual assault against Mr Trump was “a fascination with sex”.
It was a stunning line of attack from Mr Gingrich, a man who has married three times, whose first wife was his former geometry teacher seven years his senior, who had affairs which broke up two of those unions, and who had one wife accuse him of asking for an open marriage.
Mr Gingrich accused Ms Kelly of spending a disproportionate amount of time on her show, The Kelly File, discussing the 10 women who have accused Mr Trump of assaulting them with unwanted kissing and groping, and not enough time on leaked emails embarrassing Ms Clinton.
“You are fascinated with sex and you don’t care about public policy,” Mr Gingrich said.
“Me? Really?” Ms Kelly responded.
“That’s what I get out of watching you tonight,” he told 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 …” she shot back.
Mr Gingrich then argued voters wanted to know about Bill Clinton, the Democrat candidate’s husband, and what he might get up to in the East Wing of the White House.
“Because, after all, you are worried about sexual predators,” he said, referring to Mr Clinton’s record of alleged assaults and affairs, including one with White House intern Monica Lewinsky when he was president, which he lied about.
“I just want to hear you use the words, ‘Bill Clinton, sexual predator’. I dare you. Say, ‘Bill Clinton, sexual predator’,” Mr Gingrich taunted.
“We’ve covered the examples of him being accused as well, but he’s not on the ticket,” she replied.
“The polls also show the American public is less interested in the deeds of Hillary Clinton’s husband than they are in the deeds of the man who asks us to make him president, Donald Trump,” she replied.
“We’re going to have to leave it at that and you can take your anger issues and spend some time working on them, Mr Speaker,” Ms Kelly cooly ended the skirmish, which she had clearly won.
It wasn’t Ms Kelly’s first head-to head with angry Republican figures. She spent months in an open feud with Mr Trump during the primaries after interrogating him mercilessly at the first Republican debate.
“You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals,” she said at the debate.
“Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?”
Trump was so incensed at Kelly’s treatment of him that he spent months hammering her in the media afterwards, labelling her a “lightweight”, “second rate” reporter, nicknaming her “crazy Megyn”, retweeting comments calling her a “bimbo”, and implying she’d only asked that question at the debate because she was menstruating.
“I just don’t respect her as a journalist,” he told CNN. “I have no respect for her, I don’t think she’s very good, I think she’s highly overrated.
“She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”
The barbs were so incessant that by March, Fox News had to release an extraordinary statement condemning Mr Trump.
“Donald Trump’s vitriolic attacks against Megyn Kelly and his extreme, sick obsession with her are beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate who wants to occupy the highest office in the land,” Fox News said.
“Megyn is an exemplary journalist and one of the leading anchors in America — we’re extremely proud of her phenomenal work and continue to fully support her throughout every day of Trump’s endless barrage of crude and sexist verbal assaults.
“As the mother of three young children, with a successful law career and the second-highest rated show in cable news, it’s especially deplorable for her to be repeatedly abused just for doing her job.”
Ms Kelly and Mr Trump eventually made peace in a prime time interview.
She has been unafraid to contradict prominent Republicans for years. On the night of the last US election, Ms Kelly famously and correctly slapped down Republican strategist Karl Rove live on-air as he insisted the result of a key state was still in doubt. The Fox News “Decision Desk” backed her up.
Ms Kelly’s performance has been contrasted with that of the man whose show follows hers every night – avid Trump fan Sean Hannity – and others on the Fox roster. Mr Hannity has accused Ms Kelly of “clearly” supporting Hillary Clinton.
This article was originally published on news.com.au