Backed strongly by Hume and his wife, Kim, then head of the Fox News Washington bureau, Kelly was hired as a reporter. She quickly developed a reputation for concise live reporting on chaotic breaking stories like the Virginia Tech shootings and a willingness to swim against the tide of public opinion on controversial ones like the racially charged rape accusations against members of the Duke lacrosse team. (Kelly was one of the first reporters to note substantial holes in the prosecutor's case, long before the charges were dismissed and the prosecutor disbarred.)
A little more than two years later, she got her own show, first co-anchoring a morning newscast with the veteran Bill Hemmer, then flying solo in the 11-to-1 p.m. slot. Kelly found the change of roles disconcerting and even intimidating at first.
"Conducting a compelling interview is not a reporter's main goal," she says. "As a reporter you need to extract information. Take half an hour if you need to. But as an anchor, you've got a five-minute block to get right to the heart of the matter. And you have to develop the skill to do it in a polite way and not turn off the audience ... On my show, I've got eight to 10 guests. That's eight to 10 different topics you need to know very well. It's a lot more cramming on a lot of subjects."
The challenge, as it turned out, played right into Kelly's skill set. An occasional critic attributes her success to her blond good looks. ("She's half of the formula at Fox News, which is crusty old white men and very good-looking white women with incredibly high heels, incredibly short skirts, and incredibly long legs," snipes Andrew Tyndall, author of a widely read blog on television news.) But many more praise her ability to quickly sort the journalistic wheat from the chaff.
"I think she does a really good job of driving the show," says Terry Anzur, who spent more than 20 years as a television anchor before opening a Los Angeles-based coaching service for TV journalists. "I use her as example of great anchoring all the time in my classes. She's extremely focused, no wasting time — she sets up the facts, jumps into the interview, gets to the heart of the topic. People like Barbara Walters used to dance around the point a long time before pouncing, but we're not in a one-screen world anymore. The viewer will switch to a cat video on YouTube if you don't keep things moving, and Megyn drives the bus.
"She's also got the perfect personality: casual, comfortable and connected. Anchoring is no longer Moses announcing the news from the mountaintop. You've got to be the friend across the table at Starbucks, and she does that."
© The Miami Herald Dist. by MCT Information Services
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