News & Politics

Fox News's Megyn Kelly Ignores Sexism In Internal Bridgegate Report

The report faces heavy criticism for the "unusually personal" treatment of Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff.

Photo Credit: Matt Gagnon / Creative Commons

UPDATE: The March 28 edition of The Kelly File featured a prerecorded interview with Christie. Although Kelly questioned Christie about the report, she made no mention of its sexist attacks on Bridget Anne Kelly. The program will air the final segment of the interview Monday. That segment seems unlikely to revisit the report, as Kelly said, "We'll discuss the challenges of a possible presidential run" for Christie.

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Megyn Kelly's staunch rejection of sexist rhetoric on Fox raises the question of whether she will press Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) on the sexist treatment of his former aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, in a new report on the George Washington Bridge scandal he commissioned.

In the wake of the George Washington Bridge scandal, Christie commissioned the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to investigate and find out who was responsible for the unnecessary lane closures that gnarled traffic for days on the busy bridge. The resulting report largely absolved Christie of responsibility for the lane closings, but has come under fire for the investigator's ties to the Christie administration and their failure to interview key witnesses.

The report also faced heavy criticism for the sexist, "unusually personal" treatment of Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff. Bridget Anne Kelly was not interviewed by the investigators, however the report nonetheless concluded that she was the only person in the governor's office involved in the lane closings and lobbed a number of personal, sexist attacks against her. From The New York Times (emphasis added):

Gov. Chris Christie, seeking to stanch the damage the scandal had caused to his political fortunes, fired her [Kelly] as his deputy chief of staff after that, calling her "stupid." But the report commissioned by Mr. Christie and released Thursday doubles down on a strategy of portraying Ms. Kelly as duplicitous, weeping frequently and dependent on men for approval and stability.

Though the lawyers who wrote the report did not interview her, they explain her conduct in unusually personal terms -- she is out of the office attending to a family member who had been hospitalized; a brief relationship "had cooled" at the "behest" of the man, Mr. Christie's campaign manager, Bill Stepien.

The report raises these details but does not explain how or why they would have prompted her to send the damning email. It simply concludes that "events in her personal life may have had some bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind."

Ms. Kelly's friends also said that they were struck by what they felt was a gender bias in the report, noting that the personal language describing Ms. Kelly is not used to describe David Wildstein, even though he is pegged as her co-conspirator.

On the March 28 edition of Happening Now, two of Kelly's Fox News colleagues, contributors Judith Miller and Kristen Powers, denounced the report, saying it "slut-shames" Bridget Anne Kelly with "extremely sexist references."

According to a March 28 Fox Nation post, Christie will go "one-on-one" with host Megyn Kelly on the March 28 edition of The Kelly File. Megyn Kelly has a history of denouncing sexism on her program, most notably tearing into Fox colleagues Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs over sexist comments they made about a study on the rise of female breadwinners in the U.S.

In light of Kelly's willingness to stand up to sexism on her show, it will be interesting to see whether she uses her Fox News platform to take Christie to task for the report's reliance on sexist smears to place the blame for the bridge scandal squarely on the shoulders of Bridget Anne Kelly.