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#MemeOfTheWeek: Megyn Kelly's Body Politic

Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly waits to begin the Republican presidential candidate debate Thursday.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly waits to begin the Republican presidential candidate debate Thursday.

What does The Internet call a woman who scares Donald Trump out of a presidential debate?

a) Bitch
b) Slut
c) Whore
d) Bimbo
e) Megyn Kelly
f) All of the above

This week, the answer was F. Let us explain.

On Tuesday, presidential candidate and New York billionaire Donald Trump pulled out of a Fox News GOP presidential debate, the last before the Iowa caucuses. Trump complained that he was treated "unfairly" by Fox anchor Megyn Kelly in the first debate. Kelly was set to be one of the moderators of this latest debate. After a sarcastic statement from Fox, saying that it had information that Iran's and Russia's leaders were going to treat him unfairly, Trump bolted.

Some background: In that first GOP presidential debate, Kelly pointedly questioned Trump on his record, in particular, with women, repeating several offensive comments he's made about women over the years.

And since then, for months, there's been a feud. Trump versus Kelly. Trump versus Fox. Trump supporters versus Kelly, etc.

But this week, it all reached a nasty, fever pitch.

With a mix of modern-day political "slut shaming" and elementary-school level "girls are stupid" jokes, Kelly suffered jabs and taunts all over Twitter for days. Vocativ tabulated which offensive names Kelly got called the most: bitch, bimbo, blonde and whore topped the list. In just 24 hours, Vocativ found, Kelly was called a "bitch" more than 400 times on Twitter.

One tweet showed an image of Kelly as a rabid, barking dog, on a leash held by a cartoon Jeb Bush, labeled as, "Neocons."

Others ridiculed Kelly for a GQ photo shoot in which she dared to look... attractive. Trump even retweeted one that called Kelly a "bimbo."

Trump did also tweet that he wouldn't call her a bimbo because that would not be "politically correct."

It was all a jarring reminder of how hard it can be to just be a woman in the spotlight. So often, women are still judged not based on substance but rather are ranked, sorted and ridiculed because of how they look.

For what it's worth, Kelly and Fox News stood their ground. Kelly moderated the Fox News GOP debate Thursday night. Most think she did quite well, tough as usual.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.
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