From Stephen Colbert:
Settle for More
By Megyn Kelly, (2016, Harper Collins, 340 Pages, $29.99.)
Reviewed by Steven R. Maher
Historians writing about the 2016 presidential election will inevitably spend a great deal of time on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s sparring with then-candidate Donald Trump. Just as likely, they will rely heavily on Kelly’s book Settle for More in describing this political combat. This is a good book, well written, an easy read, chockfull of insider information and tidbits.
Megyn Kelly is a beautiful woman. The problems arising out of this beauty, Kelly’s struggles for acceptance in the work place, and the genesis of her career goals are carefully portrayed. Kelly is judicious when describing her love life. One can tell this book was written by a parent who kept in mind that her children would be reading it: Kelly did not include in this biography anything her offspring would be embarrassed to read.
Megyn Kelly had good parents. Her father was an Irish Catholic who nurtured his daughter’s intellect. Kelly’s mother was a second-generation Italian-American who encouraged her daughter to be herself and who made her feel loved. In this supportive environment, Kelly’s self-assurance and incredible work ethic took root.
Kelly describes being bullied while in middle school. As she recounts this episode, Kelly went to school one day and was suddenly boycotted by her classmates. She spent many a lunch period eating alone. The few friendships developed during this time, Kelly kept for the rest of her life. Then one day the bullying inexplicably stopped, and Kelly found the same people who deeply rejected her, voting her the “most popular” classmate. The wounds from this episode were deep. They resurface later in the book when she recounts her struggles with Trump, when the popular anchor suddenly finds herself the object of incredible hostility.
Kelly finished college and entered the Albany School of Law. Oral advocacy was her favorite approach to the law. Moot court, where students argue in front of a panel, her favorite course. She was awarded the “Best Individual Advocate Award.” “I knew, almost as soon as I got to law school, that I could stand up and make an argument,” recalls Kelly.
In 1992 Kelly graduated from law school and went to work at Bickle and Brewer, a big city Chicago law firm. It was there that Kelly had what to her was a key event in developing her resolve to confront gender discrimination – the “copying episode,” which was described in a chapter entitled “Legally Blond.” She found herself the only attorney in the firm a senior partner asked to copy his briefs, a time-consuming task. “It bothered me a little at first, and then it bothered me a lot,” writes Kelly.
Kelly recounts her trepidation and fear at confronting the senior partner, telling him that she was not going to do any more of his copying. Angered, the senior partner went to attorney Bickle, the highest-ranking lawyer at Bickle and Brewer, to complain. Bickle told the man: “Not only is she right, but if you ever ask an associate of this firm to waste her time doing your secretarial work, it’ll be the last thing you do at Bickle and Brewer.”
Kelly’s willingness to stand up to power in the face of a personal injustice was significantly enhanced.
Career change and Donald Trump
Like many lawyers, Kelly found herself dissatisfied with the practice of law – the long hours, working weekends, the occasional exultation of victory, and the agony of defeat. She had long desired a career in broadcast journalism and thought of getting a journalism graduate degree and developing a resume. Kelly found her new career instead by networking. She met a woman who worked part time at a television station. She told Kelly to forget the graduate degree and hard copy resume. What Kelly needed, the woman told her, was a video resume showing her covering stories.
The rest is history. Because of Kelly’s talent and strong work ethic and an occasional stroke of luck, Kelly before long found herself at Fox News hosting the “Kelly File.” Her battles with Donald Trump are probably still fresh in the average reader’s mind and do not have to have to be recounted here.
Kelly is again judicious in her description of sexual harassment by Fox News founder Roger Ailes.
She says enough to let the reader know the harassment took place, without saying more than necessary to make that point.
Her biography concludes immediately prior to the November 8, 2016, election. We probably will at some point see a “Settle for More II.” In the meantime, political aficionados and amateurs alike will find this a fascinating look at the intersection of the political world and broadcast journalism.