She might not have a job at a television network, but Megyn Kelly beat out Fox News’ Chris Wallace and CNN’s Don Lemon for the highly sought-after interview with Joe Biden accuser Tara Reade—and it pretty much fell into her lap.
Indeed, according to Kelly, it was Reade—after cancelling scheduled sit-downs with Wallace and Lemon over the weekend—who pitched the former Fox News and NBC anchor, not the other way around.
“I had no plans on going and doing an interview, but we got to talking and she said she’d been trying to reach me, trying to find ways to get in touch with me, and asked me if I would interview her,” Kelly told The Daily Beast on Thursday, the day after she flew out to the West Coast with producer Rich McHugh and spent more than hour questioning Reade on-camera in a hotel suite somewhere in Northern California. “So I said yes.”
Out of concern for Reade’s safety, Kelly declined to say precisely where the interview took place: “She’s still under a lot of threats.”
Kelly added that before Reade retained high-profile workplace harassment attorney Douglas Wigdor—an arrangement announced in a press release on Thursday—“she had no advisers, she had no lawyer, she had no PR person, she had nothing.”
Kelly and McHugh were furiously editing and packaging the scoop on Thursday—sending out newsy clips for television outlets through a company run by former Today head booker Matt Zimmerman; Kelly was hoping to post a 30-minute version of the interview late Thursday night or Friday morning on her Instagram page.
Reade’s detailed description of Biden’s alleged assault—which the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has categorically and repeatedly denied ever occurred—lasted around six minutes.
“It was emotional, it was powerful, and I asked her all the tough questions,” Kelly said about her encounter with Reade. “But to her credit, she said that’s what she wanted. She knows me and my work and she said ‘I knew you’d ask me tough questions. But I knew you were trauma-informed’”—a reference not only to Kelly’s well-known charge of sexual harassment that helped end the career of Fox News founder Roger Ailes, but also to her frequent interviews with sexual assault and harassment victims during #MeToo segments on the short-lived Megyn Kelly Today.
Kelly, a former litigator, said that while she tried to be sensitive and respectful of Reade—who had said she was the victim of domestic violence at the hands of an ex-husband—she also did her best to represent Biden’s side during the interview.
“The person who’s been accused deserves to have [the accuser] pressed, and to have his views and positions represented—all of which happened,” Kelly said.
Kelly declined to say if she found Reade credible.
“I’m not going to opine on that,” she said. “That’s for the viewers to decide.”
Kelly said she had been following the reports on Reade’s allegations—that when she was a 29-year-old employee in Biden’s Senate office in 1993, she delivered a gym bag to Biden in a corridor, and he penetrated her with his fingers.
“I saw how she was being torn up in the press,” said Kelly—who has had similar experiences of being attacked, felt some empathy, and decided to get in touch with Reade.
Kelly, of course, was repeatedly trashed by Donald Trump on Twitter and elsewhere, and threatened with death by some of his supporters, after she famously angered the then-presidential candidate with challenging questions about his misogyny during the August 2015 Fox News Republican debate.
She also was publicly denounced in October 2018 by, among others, two African-American colleagues at NBC News, Al Roker and Craig Melvin, after she seemed to endorse the idea of white people wearing Halloween blackface.
That last dustup ended Kelly’s NBC job—although she walked away with the proceeds of her three-year $69 million contract.