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Don and Megyn and Bernie and Hillary and the slog to November

Tuesday was a big, although not universally admired, night for Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
Tuesday was a big, although not universally admired, night for Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. For The Washington Post

It was a night when everybody won.

Hillary Clinton squeaked out her only May primary victory over Bernie Sanders Tuesday in Kentucky. Sanders won more easily in Oregon and vowed to fight until the last ballot was counted.

Megyn Kelly chalked up a victory by using an interview with Donald Trump to bring eyeballs to her Fox broadcast of celebrity chats. Trump won by stealing another news cycle with the appearance.

Yet Clinton lost because the night’s two primaries showed her own party’s enthusiasm for her burns something less than white hot. And Sanders lost because the results show his chances of the nomination are about as good as a Canadian team winning the NBA championship.

And people hoping for more insight to what makes Trump tick instead got a little bit of awkward exchanges and next to no substance in his interview on Kelly’s broadcast special. A pundit class that had earlier lauded Kelly’s tough approach to Trump seemed to quickly turn on her after the Tuesday show.

The actual news Tuesday came from the voting in Kentucky and Oregon. The chattering classes saw it as mostly more signs that Clinton just can’t get folks excited about her campaign.

At The Baltimore Sun, Jules Witcover asked if Clinton can’t dispose easily with the democratic socialist from mini-state Vermont, how can she expect to beat Trump. Indeed, polls show a close general election race in the making. She averages about a 5-point edge, but the latest surveys only show the race tightening.

“Ms. Clinton faces continuing questions among hard-core liberal Democrats about whether the lack of fervor for her could be her undoing in November,” Witcover opined. “As Hillary Clinton approaches her own nomination in July, the Sanders phenomenon remains a nagging question about her own electability in the fall.”

The Kentucky nail-biter “was paired with a loss in Oregon during a week when Sanders supporters appeared more emboldened and committed than ever, despite the senator’s all-but-impossible path to the nomination,” wrote Gabriel Debendetti at Politico. “And there are few signs that the party is ready to fully unite behind its frontrunner: In the wake of Nevada’s chaotic state Democratic convention Saturday and the ensuing sniping between the Sanders camp and the Democratic establishment, the prospect of a messy national convention in July is no longer unthinkable.”

Type “megy” into Google and the second choice the search engine gives you is “megyn kelly donald trump.” The supertelegenic former lawyer pitching a new book and a new celebrity interview show sat down with the former reality TV pitching a presidential campaign.

You’ll recall that the two have had, um issues. Kelly had confronted him in the first Republican primary debate about a seeming pattern of sexist statements. He later suggested she’d been overly aggressive and linked her line of questioning to her menstrual cycle.

In the Tuesday broadcast, from an interview taped two weeks earlier, she noted that he’d called her a “bimbo” in a retweet. He responded that, surely, she’d been called worse. He did say, with a chagrined look, “excuse me.” Trump notably did not say, “I’m sorry.”

Mostly, the interview was chummy — two TV types burying a hatchet in a public ceremony in a way that was good for each. Slate called it “gross … a disgusting, fawning interview.”

Under the headline that called the interview “the art of the con,” Poynter journalism think tank’s James Warren saw the sit-down as the worst in our modern Cuisinart of politics, media and self-promotion.

We shouldn’t have expected a meaty talk given that Trump had tweeted a photo of the two, the candidate’s arm around the other smiling TV star, or Kelly telling the Bravo channel she’d run his fingers through his hair to check for a wig, Warren wrote.

“The soft-as-a-grape session … no-news interview” played into a pitch for her autobiography to be released after the election and that promises to describe her year of “torment” with Trump.

“Once Trump’s heralded inquisitional nemesis, the new Kelly-Lite could cash in now as a crisis communications or branding consultant for Fortune 500 companies, reclusive ne’er do wells or entire sovereign nations,” Warren wrote.

The New York Times, fresh off a piece that painted Trump as a boardroom boor with women, called the Kelly-Trump face-to-face “convivial, easygoing.” The Grey Lady noted that the blonde lady is soon to be a free agent able to leave Fox or bargain for a better deal. She’s made clear that she wants to do more of the Barbara Walter-style shtick.

At The Washington Post, Erik Wemple gagged on all the promotion.

“It’s unfortunate enough that Kelly apparently withheld details of her ordeal in a performance that assisted Trump with his general-election pivot,” he wrote. “It’s downright scandalous that Kelly, Fox News and the publishing company that gave her the multimillion dollar contract — HarperCollins, a unit of News Corp., part of the Fox News extended corporate family — appear poised to postpone the whole Kelly-Trump story until after the election.”

Scott Canon: 816-234-4754, @ScottCanon

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