Megyn Kelly has a confession: She doesn’t love politics.
“I was not born to be a political news anchor,” she said, in a POLITICO interview.
The newly minted NBC anchor was known for her fast-paced, hard-hitting nightly show on Fox News and moderating prowess on the debate stage, tangling with then-candidate Donald Trump. But now that she’s set to launch a Sunday news magazine show and a daily morning show on NBC, Kelly said she’s happy to be leaving the political frying pan.
“No, I’m not going to miss the crazy news cycle. The audience enjoyed the show and I’m grateful for it,” Kelly said. "But it wasn’t who I was and it isn’t who I am. … While I will cover politics … I don’t want to do only that. It’s not enough for me personally.”
Kelly, whose new show "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” debuts this weekend on NBC with a separate weekday morning show also on NBC slated for this fall, left behind the network that built her career as a television star when she turned down a reported $100 million contract from Fox earlier this year.
In the midst of losing Kelly —who backed up Gretchen Carlson’s claims that the late Fox News founder Roger Ailes harassed women —the network also lost several other top anchors like Carlson, Greta Van Susteren, and Bill O’Reilly.
"I think there’s absolutely a value in having Fox News channel in America, and while I think they’re in a rebuilding year for them, I believe in their core mission and I understand why they’re so trusted by their viewers,” she added.
Asked about whether anchors like Sean Hannity hurt Fox News when he pushed an unfounded theory that a murdered DNC staffer was connected to the hacked DNC emails posted by WIkiLeaks, Kelly demurred.
"I’m not saying everything said about Fox is fair or unfair, but in my experience they get hit by a lot of stuff,” Kelly said. “My experience is it’s a place filled by great journalists and some opinion journalist who say controversial things and skate much closer to the edge.”
Now that she’s out of the political rat race, Kelly said she is looking for the “next level” in stories that “weren’t possible in cable.” Stories that touch people in a way her news role models — people like Oprah Winfrey and Charlie Rose — have accomplished.
“I want to foster more human connections and make people feel something better than the constant outrage,” she said.
Still, Kelly will stay in the political realm when she manages to snag big interviews, executive producer David Corvo said.
“When you’re on once a week, what you try to ask yourself is, what can we add to the conversation about the story that people haven’t been able to see before?” he said. "If there’s a major player in a political story who hasn’t spoken, this is a format to get that person to sit down and talk.”
The show will have some clear competition in that arena, namely with “60 Minutes” which has long dominated the Sunday evening landscape. But even so, Corvo said, NBC chief Andrew Lack is well prepared for the show to not be an immediate ratings win.
“It won’t be perfect on day one but I’d rather be holding my cards than anyone else’s,” Lack said, according to Corvo.
“We’re very aware that the focus has to be on the quality of the program,” Corvo added.
This Sunday’s debut will kick off with parts of Kelly’s conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on stage at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum later this week, and potentially a separate conversation, should she snag one off stage.
Kelly said her top question to Putin will be about the 2016 presidential election and "Russia’s alleged meddling,” saying it’s something “we have to talk about.”