January 27, 2016

Persona strivers like Megyn Kelly make horrible interviewers and debate moderators

Now that Trump is skipping the Fox News debate for an event of his own to raise funds for the veterans, we won't have to sit through another two-hour event moderated by Megyn "Penis Envy" Kelly.

Some might identify her problem as being a careerist, but she's not really competing at being the best at some job. Her career is founded on a persona that she has crafted -- sassy, bossy, random/snarky, and dominatrix (revealing a lot about who her fans are). Her TV show and other media appearances are all geared toward promoting her personal brand in order to amass legions of groupies who can then be sold to advertisers.

Because her livelihood relies so much on crafting and promoting a persona, she can never act like a normal person or a professional in a setting where the focus is on someone else. With a professional interviewer, the focus is on getting answers from the interviewee -- remaining in the background, presenting an unassuming facade, gaining the subject's trust, and coaxing out responses when they're reluctant.

With a persona striver, the professionalism becomes inverted -- her groupies are tuning in to watch "Megyn Kelly doing an interview," regardless of who happens to be responding this time around. It's a performance of a character, rather than doing a job. Now the focus is on the interviewer, the emotional satisfaction comes from hearing not the responses but the questions (zingers, gotchas, effusive praise, etc.), acting like a hammed-up caricature, keeping the subject at arm's length and not caring if they trust you, and being bullheaded and failing to get a good answer when the subject is reluctant.

Moderating a debate is like juggling several interviews at the same time, so naturally a persona striver will pollute a debate even more than a one-on-one interview. We saw that big-time during the very first GOP debate, where Kelly led off by attacking Trump's character in a statement, rather than asking a good-faith question about some substantive issue.

Only trouble, Meg, is that we're tuning in to hear Trump's views on trade, immigration, terrorism, etc. -- not you doing your schtick. Everyone who saw it remembers Trump's effortless interrupting comeback about "only Rosie O'Donnell" did he call a fat pig, disgusting animal, etc. It totally deflated her would-be dominatrix interviewer routine. The rest of the cucks on stage may not mind getting slapped across the face before a live national audience, but Trump showed America that he wouldn't take the petty vindictive crap of some sassy lawyerette. His brand went through the roof, hers cratered.

Some of the other female moderators did a basically professional job -- Dana Bash, Becky Quick. But so far the best has been Maria Bartiromo during the Fox Business debates. Working for a business network, her focus is on the career world, not the lifestyle and persona contests that are more popular with those who are not / cannot rise to the top of their career path. She's just trying to get the answers that will resolve the uncertainty her viewers have over where some candidate stands on this or that topic.

She also behaves respectfully and charitably, and just a bit playfully, when other matter-of-fact interviewers come off as almost distant and therefore not trying to gain the trust of the subject.

We see how fine a balance it can be to behave "just a bit" playfully by comparing her to Erin Burnett on CNN. Like most Celtic people, Erin is a born instigator, but she lets it go too far most of the time, and savvy interviewees will sense that she's trying too hard to get them to reveal a secret. She always has this raised-eyebrow expression like she's playing flirtypants with the men or begging the women to dish on whatever juicy gossip they have. It's almost child-like in its not-so-subtle eagerness, and while that does lend a cuteness to her that is lacking among most TV news personalities, it keeps her from getting the most out of her subjects. More like, she's good at stirring up a food fight at the cafeteria table of her discussion panel.

Maria's more charming-and-disarming approach lets her get more from her interviews, and keeps her personality in the background where it belongs. We know she can be cute, too, but we don't need for it to become a performance. Only on occasion, when it will feel less artificial anyhow.


  1. I was wondering when Americans were going to come round to recognizing just how stupid Megyn Kelly is.

  2. And what kind of person names her children Yates, Yardley, and Thatcher?

    Good Lord.

  3. @LBF "What kind of person..."

    Someone who's striving to live up to an image, regardless of, say, practicality.

  4. The whole point of persona striving is to show how much more unique and distinctive your character is, and a big part of a parent's image to others is what their kids are like. So give them names that show how unique and quirky the parents are.

    True to the overall pattern, airheaded names are more common out west of the Mississippi, where lifestyle and persona striving take the place of career striving since there isn't much room for careerism out West. That doesn't mean that there isn't any back east -- the bimbo is from Syracuse NY.

  5. I recall these distinctive preppy-WASPy names started getting very popular among East Coast strivers in CT and NY around the early 1990s. And of course, people in the South have long had the funny practice of using quirky family names as their first name.

    From what I can tell, a lot of the people using these odd names around here are ambitious transplants from the East Coast and nearby states like AZ, OR, etc., who think they've hit the big time by moving to SoCal.

  6. The woman who runs the Baby Name Wizard blog has analyzed the Social Security data on which baby names are popular in a given year, and how they vary by state.

    Unusual names are far more common out West. Maybe they aren't WASP-y sounding, but novel and unusual. That's objective -- just see if the name was in the top 1000 historically. If not, it's a novelty, like Aiden, Jayden, Brayden, Gayden, etc., and Hayley, Bailey, Kaylee, Taylee, etc.

  7. megyn kelly = sandra bullock...

  8. The WASP surname as first name thing has always bothered me. I counted about 7 or 8 of these scanning the list of top 100 girls names for 2014. Madison comes in at 11.

  9. It gets worse -- all the rhyming variants that spread out from the original. Madison gives Addison, Jackson gives Paxon, Riley gives Kylie and Miley, Haley gives Bailey, Kayleigh, Taylee, ad nauseam.

    And traditionally, only a handful of surnames were up for grabs as first names -- Connor, Colin, etc. It kept things from spiraling out of control.

    In our status-striving competitive age, we've got little girls named McKenzie, or even Kenzie. Before long, "Meet my lovely children -- Annagyn and Dermott".

  10. What's more, these striver/alien weirdo pets are now stuck with names that reek of a decadent period that Trump (and whoever else joins the charge) may soon be cleaning up.

    Future generations will eventually be bemused by various Millennialisms, not knowing (or caring) that they were a generation raised entirely in a corrupt period.

    It'll be a joy, watching/listening to the complacent, the obsequious, the superficial, and the greedy squirm as Trump wins one battle after another. "But naked self-interest, careerism, and materialism have been chic for decades"! "How does this 'hypocritical' dem-kissing braggart have any credibility left"

  11. All names are going to sound dated -- Clyde, Steve, Susan, Tracy -- but historically common ones will at least sound normal.

    Addison, Grayson, Bryleigh, Roofer -- it's like giving your newborn child a tattoo that says "Lady Gaga + Rihanna 4EVA".

  12. Make baby names great again!

  13. so you don't think megyn kelly is a literal tranny, ok...


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