The pattern seems to be repeating itself for her new daytime talk show.
In its first week on the air, NBC’s new 9 a.m. ET talk show, “Megyn Kelly Today,” has been blasted by critics, drawn middling ratings, and inspired a series of negative press reports about her banter with celebrity guests.
Largely known for mercilessly grilling high-profile guests and at-times inflammatory segments about race, Kelly declared on her first show that she was “done” with politics and would focus on broader lifestyle topics and more positive-focused stories. Asked, for example, whether she would take a knee with NFL players protesting police brutality and racial injustice, Kelly offered platitudes about the right for everyone to the First Amendment, saying, “Go USA, that’s my feeling in watching it.”
Critics were unmoved. Both CNN and USA Today dubbed the premiere “awkward,” The Washington Post called it a “morning-show Bride of Frankenstein,” and Time said she “fails to connect” with her audience.
The new NBC host also bungled a series of softball interviews with celebrities, asking cringe-inducing questions that ended up going viral.
In her first major interview, Kelly sat with the cast of NBC’s “Will & Grace,” the resurrected early-2000s sitcom that starred a fictional gay lawyer.
Kelly brought a superfan onstage during the interview, asking the fan whether it was “true you became a lawyer, and you became gay, because of Will.”
The question provoked an immediate wave of criticism, even from the cast: The star Debra Messing said she regretted going on the show and was “dismayed” by Kelly’s comments, a remark the New York Post’s Page Six said got Messing in trouble privately with NBC.
An NBC insider who was there said Kelly was “obviously making a joke, that was clear to the ‘superfan.'”
“It became even clearer when she spent much of the interview asking the show’s creators how proud they were of the positive social impact of Will & Grace and the progress it brought about for gay rights,” the insider said.
But the host again appeared to alienate a guest just two days later when she asked actress Jane Fonda about her history of plastic surgery.
“We really want to talk about that now?” Fonda asked.
“One of the things people think about when they look at you is how amazing you look,” Kelly replied.
“Well, thanks. Good attitude, good posture, take care of myself,” Fonda said. “But let me tell you why I love this movie that we did, ‘Our Souls at Night,’ rather than plastic surgery.”
It’s unclear whether viewers are on board with the NBC host’s rebranding.
Kelly’s show had 2.9 million viewers overall on Monday and 917,000 in advertisers’ coveted demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds, a number down from the same time slot last year (NBC noted that it would be difficult for any network to match that day, which featured the first debate between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and now President Donald Trump).
That was higher overall and in the key demo than the show’s main competitor at 9 a.m., “LIVE with Kelly & Ryan.”
But that number has appeared to decline steadily over the week.
Megyn Kelly Today continues to lose viewers. pic.twitter.com/MIEXsjJZ7t
— Yashar Ali ???? (@yashar) September 28, 2017
NBC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.