The last time Michael Moore appeared on Fox News was in 2009. It was the week his documentary Capitalism: A Love Story came out in theaters, and the left-wing filmmaker sat down with Sean Hannity to look back at eight years of President George W. Bush and ahead to what would become eight years of President Barack Obama.
On Tuesday night, more than six years later, Moore returned to Fox. But this time, it was to talk to Megyn Kelly, who has become the de facto queen of the conservative cable news channel. Her power is apparently so immense that she can single-handedly prevent Donald Trump from participating in the final GOP debate before the Iowa caucuses.
She may not get the chance to question Trump on Thursday night, but Kelly and her liberal guest had plenty to talk about, from the water crisis in Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan, to his latest documentary, Where to Invade Next and, of course, the debate over which presidential candidate will succeed Obama next year.
Moore spent most of the afternoon on Tuesday teasing the inevitable clash of ideologies on Twitter:
Yet once he came face-to-face with Kelly on air, they did manage to treat each other with some level of civility and mutual understanding.
“I feel bad for you,” Moore said at the top of the segment, diving directly into the big story of day. “What’s he afraid of?” he asked of Trump. “I’m sitting here, I don’t feel any fear.”
“I’m a pussycat,” Kelly agreed before trying to change the subject by bringing up Bernie Sanders.
“You just didn’t deserve to be treated this way,” Moore said, ignoring her attempts. “You have done something that Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, [Marco] Rubio, [Ted] Cruz, none of them have been able to do, which is essentially to frighten him. Everybody’s tried to do this for months and you did it!”
“This is why O’Reilly never had him back!” Kelly said, referring to a debate that Moore insisted he “won” with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly back in 2004.
Kelly reminded Moore that he once called Hillary Clinton “disgusting” back in 2008 for her treatment of Obama on the campaign trail, but now he insisted, “I like Hillary.”
The host also pushed Moore, who said he voted for Obama twice, to explain his criticism of the president in recent years. He said he wrote to Obama not long ago and said, “You’ve got to do some of the things we elected you to do, because it’s not going to be enough in the history books to say the big claim to fame is you were the first African-American president. That’s an important thing, but we need now to do some other things for us and before your term ends.”
Moore said he wished he could have seen a single-payer health care system over Obamacare and wanted the promised closing of Guantanamo Bay to happen under Obama’s watch.
The filmmaker’s criticism of Obama put Kelly in the odd position of defending the president. “He tried,” she said. “You’re tough.”
“I’m very happy we've had him for these eight years, believe me, after what we had before,” Moore said, realizing the irony of the conversation he was having on Fox News.
Asked if there is any candidate on the Republican side he could get behind, Moore said, “I would get behind all of them and push them somewhere.”
“If you watch one of my films, you may not agree with me politically,” Moore added, but he told Fox viewers they will know that he loves this country and they will laugh at least half a dozen times, a fact Kelly could confirm based on the joking tone of their interview.
As Kelly attempted to end the interview, Moore got out one more message, aimed at Kelly’s bosses Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch. “To get elected president in this country, you have to come on this network, you have to play ball with this network. Donald Trump today said, ‘I'm not playing ball with this network.’ That’s historic, and it will be interesting to see where the real power is.”
“You’ve made this happen,” Moore told Kelly. “You caused a crisis upstairs here.” When Kelly pushed back, saying she did nothing more than ask Trump a question, Moore exclaimed, “You asked a great question, by the way! The war on women!”
“Now you’re really ruining my rep, I’ve got to get out of here,” she said, laughing.
“God bless you, Megyn Kelly,” Moore said before Kelly cut him off.
The pair spent so much time talking politics that they didn’t make it to the water crisis in Flint. Earlier in the day, however, Moore stopped by The View, where he sounded off on that issue. He said he “absolutely” believes the crisis is racially charged, adding,
“It happened there because the people there have no power.”
“Anywhere where people are poor, who are of color, they generally don’t have lobbyists, they don’t have a lot of money,” he continued. “And this governor of our state, once he found out, once they all kind of knew something was wrong, even if they didn't know the specifics, they knew something was wrong. They kept allowing the people and the children especially to drink poison water. You understand, all the children of Flint have been exposed to lead poisoning, which causes irreversible brain damage.”
“No matter how many bottles of water people sent, those kids are permanently damaged in the brain,” Moore added. If it were up to him, he said, Gov. Rick Snyder would be “arrested, absolutely, at least for manslaughter.”