"There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever," Donald Trump infamously said about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly after he bungled the response to her debate question on his history of sexist, misogynistic comments about women. Trump's "blood" remark sparked a national backlash, and even conservative pundits said it crossed the line. But true to form, Trump saddled up and buckled down on his statement, railing against the "'politically correct' fools" whom he implied were trying to distract from the country's real issues.
The rough exchange endeared Kelly to many left-leaning American women almost overnight. Despite her own history of controversial comments, many progressive women found in Kelly an unlikely ally when it came to Trump's treatment of women.
And she is nowhere close to backing away from the challenge. On Wednesday night, when Trump's long-suffering campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tried to defend the candidate's record with women, the Fox News anchor called her out on it in a way that no other member of the conservative media has yet dared to.
In justifying Trump's debate performance, Conway paraphrased what Trump said post-debate — that he refrained from attacking Hillary Clinton on her husband's infidelity, but that it was "not nice" that she was spending millions on negative ads about him.
"Kellyanne. C'mon. It's not 'nice?' " Kelly asked, almost incredulous. "They are running for president. Of course she's going to hit him with negative ads."
When Conway countered, "but the ads should be true," Kelly said:
The ads that's she's running about him when it comes to his comments on women use his words, Kellyanne. ... You raised the question about 'he made a couple comments over 25 years' — you know that's not true. You know he has repeatedly made comments about women, about their looks, about their size, their weight.
After Conway repeatedly pivoted to asking why Clinton was spending so much money running ads against Trump, Kelly had an easy response.
"Because she's killing him with women. And she sees an advantage there and she's trying to exploit it. So my question to you is whether he needs to come up with a better answer than telling Fox and Friends, 'Well, she gained a bunch of weight when she won Miss Universe, and she was a real problem,' " Kelly said, referring to Trump's doubling down on past criticism of Alicia Machado, the former beauty queen who said Trump's public humiliation and criticism about her weight led her to struggle with an eating disorder.
Kelly's willingness to challenge the GOP nominee and his campaign in regards to his record on women is in stark contrast to her Fox News colleagues, some of whom are Trump's biggest and boldest proponents. And as a powerful woman who has established herself as the network's shining star, who herself has been at the receiving end of Trump's reckless misogyny, it is important and, yes — necessary that she continues to do so.