Megyn Kelly's Grace Under Newt Gingrich's Fire

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Megyn Kelly’s Grace Under Newt Gingrich’s Fire on Wednesday, October 26, 2016.

The Internet and media are blowing up over the hostile encounter between Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and Newt Gingrich last night.

The two debated back and forth with increasing intensity about the state of the presidential race, the validity of the polls, and media bias, but the discussion exploded when Kelly said, “If Trump is a sexual predator…” and Gingrich immediately countered “He’s not a sexual predator!”

Megyn Kelly proceeded to handle the rest of the heated interview in five ways that provide an object lesson in how to handle any contentious exchange.

Gingrich wagged his finger at her as he said, “You could not defend that statement. I’m sick and tired of people like you using language that’s inflammatory, that’s not true!”

Lesson 1: Kelly maintained her composure, dropped her voice, and politely said, “Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, you have no idea whether it’s true or not.”

Gingrich said, “When you used the word [predator] you took a position and I think it’s very unfair of you to do that, Megyn. I think that is exactly the bias people are upset by.”

Lesson 2: Kelly showed equanimity when she said, “Let me make my point and now I’ll give you the floor.”

Lesson 3: Kelly offered supporting evidence. “And what we saw on that tape was Trump himself saying that he likes to grab women by the genitals and kiss them against their will. That is what we saw.”

Gingrich charged, “You are fascinated with sex and you don’t care about public policy…That’s what I get out of watching you tonight.”

Lesson 4: Kelly refuted charge and returned to main issue, saying, “You know what, Mr. Speaker, I’m not fascinated by sex, but I am fascinated by the protection of women and understanding what we’re getting in the Oval Office.”

Gingrich demanded, “You want to comment on whether—you want to comment on whether the Clinton ticket has a relationship to a sexual predator? … I want to hear your words. ‘Bill Clinton sexual predator.’ I dare you. Say ‘Bill Clinton sexual predator.’”

Lesson 5: Kelly did not take the bait, and stayed on track, saying, “Excuse me, sir. We on The Kelly File have covered the Clinton matter as well.”

The Washington Post described this last exchange best: “Kelly doesn’t take dictation from Newt Gingrich.”

Megyn Kelly is rare role model among journalists for showing grace in the line of fire.

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Megyn Kelly’s Grace Under Newt Gingrich’s Fire on Wednesday, October 26, 2016.

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