The debate was interesting. It was bizarre for me personally because, of course, I was out there with Bret Baier for many of the past GOP presidential primary debates. We used to do them together (you can see behind-the-scenes photos here). And so I had a lot of sort of inside knowledge on what Bret and Martha MacCallum were doing, what they weren’t doing, changes that they’ve made, etc. Some I liked, and some I didn’t like.
My number one thing in terms of the formatting of the debate was: Get to it! Everyone’s been waiting. With all due respect to the National Anthem – you guys know I love the National Anthem – but we don’t need to waste three minutes of the primetime debate with that. It can be played before the broadcast actually starts. We also don’t need the long video wind up trying to get people excited. They’re already excited. Let’s go.
A debate needs a strong first question that kicks things off with a boom. While we’ve been covering Oliver Anthony and the success of his “Rich Men North of Richmond” song, that was the wrong first question. It was a sleeper. It was such a gimme. It invited the stupid opening statements that Fox News was trying to avoid. You need to get in and get out with a precise hit, and that wasn’t it.
I will also say this: There is nothing wrong with the reporters and presidential debate hosts being slightly antagonistic to the candidates. It’s our job. We’re supposed to be slightly antagonistic to them. We’re not supposed to be cheerleaders, bootlickers, or rooting for them. I’m not calling Bret and Martha that, but I am reacting to some of the things I’ve seen on X (formerly known as Twitter). Real journalists are not bootlickers. They get out there; they are skeptical; they push hard; they have an edge. That’s our job. We’re not supposed to love the candidates, we’re supposed to love truth and the audience. I was missing some of that last night.
Having said all of that, I enjoyed the debate. I really did. And I thought the best parts of it were where the candidates mixed it up directly with one another, where they started rhetorically punching one another. In those moments, as the moderator, you shrink down like you’re not even there. You say, ‘You guys go. You do your thing.’ No one wants to see the moderator in those moments. For the most part, they did a good job of that. There were lots of punches thrown.
The winner, I say, was not in the room. Former President Donald Trump had to be the winner because, in my view, nobody changed the game. While some did well and some did less well, nobody had a huge knockout blow that would have elevated them to anywhere near striking distance of Trump, who, by the way, did a previously taped interview with Tucker Carlson that streamed on X.
Today, Trump is preparing to head to Georgia where he is expected to surrender at the Fulton County jail on felony charges connected to the last presidential election. They’re saying it’s going to be a ‘primetime appearance.’ He’s not dumb. You know what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to drive all the evening news coverage to cover that instead of the debate. He has great political instincts, and he’s turning lemons into lemonade – to the extent you can turn a criminal indictment into anything good. We do expect to see a mugshot, which is ridiculous and absurd.
We don’t need a mugshot of Donald Trump. A mugshot is taken so you have something you can show people if he had absconds, if he takes off. He’s literally the most famous man in the world. Stop with the mugshot nonsense. It just makes them look like even more harsh partisans than those who are going after him already are.
You can check out Megyn’s full analysis by tuning in to episode 614 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.