The debut of the show Megyn Kelly Presents on Tuesday featured, as its primary draw, an interview that had been months in the making: the newscaster’s conversation with Donald Trump. But the pair, despite the fact that one of them is running for president, didn’t use the occasion to talk about politics or policy. Instead, they talked—almost exclusively, in the aired version of the conversation—about bullying. “Most kids between the ages of 6 and 16 have been bullied at some point in their lives,” Kelly told Trump. She paused. “Were you ever bullied?”
“No, I wasn’t,” Trump replied. “But I have seen bullying. And bullying doesn’t just have to be as a child. I mean, I know people who were bullied when they’re 55.”
“It can happen when you’re 45!” Kelly replied.
Trump ignored Kelly’s insinuation: that she, at 45—by way of the insulting tweets and demeaning commentary of one Donald J. Trump—had been a victim of that bullying. Instead, Trump continued, simply: “It happens. But you gotta get over it. Fight back, do whatever you have to do.”
It was a strange moment in a strange interview—one that, though it may have been 1990s-Waltersian in tone, was distinctly 2016 in vintage. The irony may have been lost on Trump, but it wasn’t on Kelly: For her, the interview itself was a form of fighting back. Fox’s marketing efforts for the climactic Kelly/Trump meet-up had presented the chat as a long-in-the-making moment of performative reconciliation: Trump, the bully, facing the woman who had been on the receiving end of his insults. Kelly, introducing the pre-taped interview at the start of the show, mentioned the many people Trump had mocked and/or undermined on his path to the presumptive GOP nomination: Mexicans, Muslims, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Heidi Cruz, Carly Fiorina. She pointed out that the list included “yours truly.”