Megyn Kelly's show is a flop. She needs to learn vulnerability or it won't ever work out

When I first heard Megyn Kelly was moving from Fox to NBC, I thought, "Bad move." It's extremely difficult for celebrities to rebrand themselves, especially if they were skilled at what they did before. And Megyn Kelly was very skilled in her role at Fox News. It was hard-hitting news that accentuated Kelly's natural adversarial style.

What made NBC think they could drag Fox viewers to NBC, or think Kelly's star power at Fox would transfer to morning television, is beyond me. It just doesn't work like that, especially in the polarized nation in which we live. That's one of the reasons Megyn Kelly Today has flopped.

 The other reason is Megyn Kelly herself. What Kelly wants more than anything is to be liked, and it shows. But she just isn't natural as the girl next door.

 It's a problem that has plagued Kelly throughout her life. In her book Settle for More, Kelly talks about failing to "connect" with women due to her "threatening" personality — a symptom, she says, of the wall she put up as a result of being bullied in middle school.

 "I thought about how I'd been a different person before the bullying. I was more trusting, more open, more cheerful. Going through severe social ostracism at such a precarious point in your life changes you ... I decided, consciously or not, that I could avoid being hurt again by projecting strength. That meant not owning up to any vulnerability..." 

Ironically, Kelly shows vulnerability in Settle for More. Unfortunately, it doesn't come through on the television screen. Just several years ago a former male colleague told Kelly she needed to show vulnerability to win over her audience. And Kelly has been trying to do that ever since.

But it's not working, and here's why. By Kelly's own admission, she really likes to win, which was abundantly clear from watching her on Fox. And those two things, being vulnerable and winning, are total opposites. Being vulnerable means being able to yield and to not win.

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And yet, Kelly's committed to proving it can be done. “I insist the world come to understand that no woman must choose between being strong and being fun, being tough and being liked,” she told Variety earlier this month. “It can all happen at once. You can be feminine and you can be strong. Stand by.”

This is often what women with domineering personalities do when they fail: blame society for being unable to accept strong women. I couldn’t agree more than a woman can be both strong and feminine — heck, I wrote an entire book on this very issue. But we have to define what we mean by "strong." Being strong-minded, for instance, is different from being strong-willed. The former is admirable; the latter is not.

As for being tough while being liked? That's tricky. When I'm tough with my kids, and in my former life when I was tough with my students, I'm not liked too much in that moment. It kinda goes with the territory.

No, the real reason Kelly doesn't work for morning television isn't, as she believes, that people don't like strong women. That was Hillary Clinton's argument, too, and it's a weak one. Look at Oprah Winfrey. The reason Kelly doesn't work for morning television is that she hasn't mastered the ability to be both vulnerable and strong. It’s a tough nut to crack, and her combative nature won’t allow it. That's why she worked so well at Fox.

Perhaps they'll take her back.

This article duplicated from: USATODAY.COM

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