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Navarrette: Liberals should cut Foxs Kelly some slack
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SAN DIEGO — You would think that liberals would like Megyn Kelly. And they might if they weren’t so quick to judge the popular Fox News host by the company she works for.

On Election Night 2012, Kelly embarrassed Karl Rove on national television. The former White House political director under George W. Bush, and the man the left loves to hate, is a Fox News contributor. Rove was skeptical after the network’s analysts called Ohio, and the election, for President Barack Obama.

This prompted Kelly, who was co-anchoring Fox’s coverage, to ask him: “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better, or is this real?” She then left the set and cornered the analysts to ask if they stood by their call. They did.

Six months later, Kelly struck a blow for feminism when she pummeled a pair of Fox News colleagues — Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs — after the two of them insisted that families, children and society are all hurt by a new trend where women have become the sole or primary wage earner in nearly half of U.S. households. As a working mother herself, Kelly wasn’t going to stomach that. And since she started out her career as a lawyer, she used her training to pulverize both Erickson and Dobbs at the same time.

Meanwhile, Media Matters, which bills itself as a nonpartisan media watchdog but spends most of its time trying to discredit conservatives, has concluded that Kelly isn’t as extreme as some of the other hosts on the network. Angelo Carusone, the organization’s executive vice president, has declared Kelly “not as vitriolic” as her colleagues.

Don’t misunderstand. This is no liberal we’re talking about. Kelly is a frequent critic of the Obama administration. But whether you like her or not, Kelly’s reputation as a straight shooter should be established. This should count for something with the left. Apparently it doesn’t. Not when there is a chance to label anyone associated with Fox News as racially insensitive.

In an egregious case of overkill, liberals and other critics of the network have spent the last several days blasting Kelly for insisting that Santa Claus — and, while we’re at it, also Jesus — is white.

Kelly reacted to a column by Slate “culture blogger” Aisha Harris. In the piece, titled “Santa Claus should not be a white man anymore,” Harris noted that she grew up with “two different Santa Clauses.” There was the one in popular culture, who was white. Then there was the one in her household, who was black. She advocated a change, suggesting that Santa Claus instead be depicted as a lovable penguin.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Now at the helm of a new nightly show called “The Kelly File,” the host bristled at the idea that, with political correctness dictating so much of what we say and do, the next accommodation should be over Santa Claus.

“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change,” she said on her show. “Jesus was a white man, too. But it’s like we have, he was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want the kids watching to know that. ... How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy of the story and change Santa from white to black?”

For these remarks, Kelly was roundly criticized, ridiculed and vilified by the left.

Kelly accused her detractors of “race-baiting” and claimed that her comment about Santa was tongue-in-cheek. Yet, she acknowledged that the question of whether Jesus was white “is far from settled.”

What are you going to do? Even at this time of year, haters are going to hate.

Much of this is about jealousy and fear. Kelly is a star on her way up; her show is now No. 2 on Fox News in overall ratings, second only to Bill O’Reilly.

And Fox News continues to dominate the world of cable news, drawing — according to recently compiled Nielsen data — more viewers than the averages of CNN, MSNBC and HLN combined.

So her liberal critics are naturally itching to take her down a peg when they have the chance.

Kelly has to know this. Which is why she should choose her words more carefully so she doesn’t give them the opportunity.

Ruben Navarrette is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group.

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