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Budowsky: Megyn Kelly’s Murrow moment

Donald Trump, Megyn Kelly
Fox News

Donald Trump has a history of hurling verbal abuses against women that should be condemned by every Republican officeholder at every level of government — especially GOP women — and thoroughly reported by those who consider themselves professional journalists.

By contrast, Megyn Kelly of Fox News is one of the most fair, objective and professional hosts of any show on television, and in her questioning of Trump during the first GOP presidential debate she rose to a high standard of journalism that’s been uncommon in the media coverage of the 2016 campaign.

{mosads}The entire Fox team did an admirable job in last month’s debate. Along with Kelly, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier asked fair and challenging questions to all of the candidates. They put all the candidates on the spot, exactly the way it should be done in presidential debates for both parties.

The problem with the Fox News debate was not Fox, it was Trump, who sinks American political discourse to new lows of insulting, berating and bullying that make him temperamentally unfit to be president. The problem with most in the media is that when he makes statements that are factually inaccurate, which he does regularly, and when he makes statements that are verbally abusive toward women, which he has done repeatedly, he is often given a free pass by “journalists” and “pundits,” who should list, document and report acts by a man who seeks the power of the presidency that can fairly be labeled misogyny, sexism and bullying.

During the GOP debate, Kelly asked Trump to explain the pattern of insults that he’s directed against women. “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs’ and ‘disgusting animals,’ ” she said. At first Trump did not deny the accuracy of Kelly’s question, claiming — falsely — that they were only directed against Rosie O’Donnell, as if attacking the comedienne with this abusive language is acceptable.

Then, after the debate ended, he proceeded to threaten and disparage Kelly, tweeting with sexist and misogynistic glee the view of a supporter that the journalist is a “bimbo.”

Then, after reaching an understanding about professional standards with Fox Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, within days Trump was again on the prowl with new and unprovoked attacks against Kelly, repeating his misogyny about bimbos. His obsessiveness suggests it is not the marriage of a female adviser to Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, that should be associated with the word “perv,” as Trump himself put it.

Imagine the reaction if Carly Fiorina had used this verbally abusive language against men!

Many “journalists” treat Trump’s repeated verbal abuses against women as the charming idiosyncrasies of a celebrity, while Megyn Kelly treated them, correctly, as an appropriate question to ask a man seeking the presidency.

By questioning Trump about this behavior, Kelly has assumed the role in the 2016 campaign of Edward R. Murrow, who questioned the demagoguery of Joe McCarthy in the 1950s, and by fiercely defending Kelly against Trump’s spurious attacks against her, Roger Ailes has assumed the role of William S. Paley, the legendary CBS mogul who believed in Murrow.

If Donald Trump were working as an employee in a Fortune 500 company or small business and verbally stalked female employees, female customers, female competitors or female journalists covering the company by calling them fat pigs, dogs, slobs, disgusting animals and bimbos and attacking the marriages of their female advisers, he would be told to accept counseling and work elsewhere.

Trump wants to claim he is fighting for American workers despite profiting from sales of Chinese-made clothes bearing his name, slandering Hispanic immigrants by falsely equating them as a class with rapists and murderers, verbally harassing women with words of sexist abuse and boasting that as president he would “scare” Pope Francis. Legitimate journalists should not treat these matters as the charming tactics of a celebrity candidate but as the behavior of a man who wants the power to begin a nuclear war.


Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors blog and reached at

Tags Donald Trump Megyn Kelly

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