Megyn Kelly's Sunday night newsmagazine is a flop so her daily morning show, which airs as the 9am hour of Today and premiered Monday, is under a lot of pressure to make her move to NBC News from Fox News worthwhile.
The good news is that Megyn Kelly Today will probably avoid fiascos like the botched Alex Jones interview. Kelly is going for a politically neutral tone in her new series. In her intro, Kelly talked about how she was "kinda done with politics for now" and instead was going to "deliver hope and optimism and inspiration and empowerment and have fun."
This new, fun Megyn Kelly dances like Ellen, dips into a singsong like Oprah and wears lacy ruffles on the ankles of her pants. She smiles more and doesn't interrogate people. She even admitted she's nervous, which Fox News Kelly would have never done.
But the big question is: will people tune in for apolitical Megyn Kelly?
The bad news for Kelly is that politics cannot be avoided. For Democrats, Megyn Kelly will be forever tainted by her association with Fox News. It's hard to have lighthearted fun with a person who seriously said "Santa Claus is white." And maybe the Fox News audience that NBC is trying to court doesn't watch for Megyn Kelly, they watch for the worldview-confirming conservative ideas. And if Kelly isn't delivering them, they'll stay away.
That puts Kelly in a tough spot. The first episode was fine, though. You wouldn't turn it off when the Lauer hour ended, which is saying something.
The main block of Megyn Kelly Today was a corporate-synergistic interview with the cast of Will & Grace. (Jack Donaghy would be proud.) Then there were some cute bits where her new Today co-workers gave her advice, followed by a profile about an elderly white nun who saves black teenage boys on the South Side of Chicago. It could be a nice story, but it was patronizing coming from someone who excused documented racism in the Ferguson, MO police department.
Megyn Kelly may want to avoid politics, but in 2017 everything is political. It'll be interesting to see how she navigates that tension as the show continues.
Megyn Kelly Today airs weekday mornings at 9/8c on NBC.