After Recent Fox News Debate, Albany Law Grad Megyn Kelly In The Spotlight

Aug 18, 2015

This post has been updated to reflect a correction: Kelly has been on vacation since after the debate, not hiatus, as originally reported.

You might know that Fox News personality Megyn Kelly has been off the air since shortly after her faceoff with Donald Trump during the first televised presidential debate leading up to 2016. What you may not know is that Kelly grew up in Delmar and graduated from Albany Law School.

The popular cable news host was born 44 years ago in Syracuse. Megyn Kelly's father was a professor at the University at Albany. Her family moved to Delmar, an Albany suburb, when she was 9; she later attended Bethlehem Central High School, and eventually pursued an undergraduate degree in political science at Syracuse University, then earned a J.D. from Albany Law School in 1995.

Michael Hutter is a professor of law who teaches trial-related courses at Albany Law. He remembers Kelly "quite well."    "She really had the trial chops of a seasoned trial lawyer. I always viewed her as going on to be the next great female trial lawyer in the country. I never saw her going into broadcast journalism."

While a student, she was an editor for the Albany Law Review, and exceeded in trial court competition.  Hutter says Kelly fit in with the student body, but stood out for her demonstrated ability for trying cases.   "I kidded her once, 'You must have been raised by watching Perry Mason reruns.’"

Kelly dreamed of becoming a district attorney, but told she grew tired of practicing law. Chasing a new dream, Kelly was hired as a reporter at Washington, D.C.'s ABC affiliate. She covered the Beltway sniper attacks and the 2004 presidential election prior to landing a job with Fox News.

I asked Director of the Medill School of Journalism Washington Program Ellen Shearer : "Why would someone choose broadcast journalism as a career when she is fully qualified to practice law?"  She replied  "I would think she might to, say, cover the president, instead of sit in a law office and write briefs, which of course is understating the value and fun, I guess, of being a lawyer. But being a journalist can be a lot of fun, and particularly when you're at the national level as Megyn is. And I would guess it was just a passion for her."

Like many of her colleagues at Fox, Kelly has been criticized by media watchers over the years, but generally received high marks after locking horns with Trump, which she discussed on the network soon after.   "It wasn't an attack. It was a fair question. But I get it. He's in the arena and so am I. So it's OK with me that there's some consternation. I'm sure he'll get over that and we'll be fine."

Hutter has ultimate faith Kelly's tiff with the Donald was NOT staged.   "That's not her style, and I don't think that she would put up with something like that if Fox News asked her to do that."

Kelly last visited the Albany Law School campus for her 15th class reunion in 2010, delivering a talk to fellow graduates and receiving an Alumni Achievement Award.  In 2014, she was named to the list of The 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME magazine.