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Megyn Kelly’s Pivot To Feel-Good Journalism

People

Since the late September debut of Megyn Kelly’s Today Show, we’ve seen her discuss Stephen Curry’s favorite dish with the basketball star’s wife (it’s chicken parm), rub elbows with the female cast of SNL, hang out with a police dog, and dish on whether or not it’s possible to pull off Mom Jeans. For anyone who’s paid attention to the mega-watt TV star’s career over the last decade, you could practically hear this screeching, 180-degree pivot from her not-so-distant biting journalism days.


Oh yes, Kelly’s sharp tongue has certainly been dulled, and according to a recent in-depth interview between her and Elle Magazine reporter, Mattie Kahn, Kelly is delighted to be sitting in the warm-and-fuzzy inducing Today show chair.

“I'm not trying to orchestrate anything one way or another over here. I'm just trying to help people live better lives and talk about issues that I care about...in a way that's smart and compelling and dynamic and, at times, provocative and surprising and, at times, just pure fun,” Kelly stated in the interview.

When asked about whether the “extra joy” Kelly had found in her new gig surprised her, and whether she was “itching to let this all out” while at Fox, she got real honest. Yes to all the above, she said, adding that she “hadn’t felt joy for a long time.”

“When you live in a world full of vitriol and combat, you get used to it,” Kelly told Kahn. “It just turns into a slow burn of unhappiness. It seemed like there was one crisis to the next for a while there, which burned up a lot of emotional real estate at work and at home… I'm really good at compartmentalizing. If something is going bad at the office, I don't bring it home with me. I developed that skill as a lawyer. But it was starting to seep over. Compartmentalization wasn't as effective as it had once been because it had just reached such a huge magnitude.”

For Kelly, removing herself from that figurative journalistic combat zone — and “the darkness of politics” — has been a blessing. She’s admittedly happier, and honestly, who wouldn’t be happier cuddling up to police dogs, hanging out with Morgan Freeman, and telling inspirational, feel-good stories? Especially when on the other side of the fence you’ve got a snarling president and fiery, palpable hate coming at you from every direction.

Sometimes, for some people — for at least a portion of their lives — the grass truly is greener elsewhere and it’s OK to break out the lawn chair.

Megyn Kelly. Photo courtesy of Business Insider

“If you didn't know her before Donald Trump unleashed his Twitter account on her, you knew her after. I think that may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Megyn Kelly is a very smart woman. She knows journalism and was not going to be swayed into going down the Donald Trump rabbit hole,” said media expert Christina Nicholson, a former TV reporter and anchor who covered news in NYC, Miami, and Fort Myers, Fla. “People go nuts if you have a political disagreement — no matter how minor. On morning and daytime TV, things just aren't that serious. I think she is looking for something a little easier, less stressful, and new.”

This transition will certainly be a challenge, and it will be interesting to see how Kelly fares in the apolitical spotlight. We’ve seen a little bit of clashing already.

For example, her questioning Jane Fonda about her plastic surgery, and Fonda’s immediate bristling; and her lack of excitement over the eclipse compared to the eagerness of co-stars Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer.

“Even though we knew her before her new role, she is a whole new brand now. She's going from serious coverage to lifestyle; from an audience mostly made up of men to women,” said Nicholson. “It's a challenge.

It's a challenge because it's almost like starting over again. There's no doubt she is good at what she does, but she is in a new niche, with a new audience.

In that sense, the “get to know you, like you, and trust you game” is essentially starting all over again for Kelly, only she has a “past life,” if you will, that may make it more difficult to win people over.

Many people try to reinvent themselves, said Nicholson, but rebranding doesn’t always work out as seamlessly as you’d like.

“For example, the Kardashians are a hit, but Kris Jenner's talk show was not. It was a different demographic,” she said. “When you change your fan base, you're taking a risk. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn't.”

For Megyn Kelly, the fence hop may work. We’ll just have to wait and see whether the audience is willing to get to know this new, friendlier side of her, and, more importantly, whether they like it.

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.