FRESH AIR: As Donald Trump continues to court controversy via Twitter, Fox News host Megyn Kelly tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that the president-elect “really does need to be aware of the power that he has when he releases these tweets.” Kelly felt that power firsthand in August 2015, when she pressed the candidate about his derogatory comments about women during the first Republican primary debate. Trump responded with a Twitter attack, which was quickly followed up by a barrage of insulting tweets and even death threats from his followers. “What people don’t realize about Donald Trump — and I don’t even know if Donald Trump realizes it — is that every tweet he unleashes against you … creates such a crescendo of anger,” Kelly says. The host of The Kelly File says that although she worried for her own safety and that of her children, she and her producers were determined not to let the threats impact their coverage of Trump. Now that Trump is the president-elect, she is especially concerned about his “de-legitimization” of the media. “I think it’s dangerous,” Kelly says. “People … need good, strong, skeptical journalists to be covering whoever it is — whether it’s Barack Obama or President Donald Trump — and we’re in a dangerous phase right now, where too many millions of Americans aren’t listening at all to what the press tells them.” Kelly’s new memoir, Settle For More, revisits her feud with Trump, as well as her work as a journalist and her decision to come forward in the sexual harassment case against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. MORE
THE GUARDIAN: Journalist Megyn Kelly, who is under armed guard after receiving death threats, has accused Donald Trump’s social media director of stirring hatred on the internet. The Fox News host urged Dan Scavino, a member of the presidential transition team’s leadership staff, to stop encouraging hostile and abusive elements online. “The vast majority of Donald Trump supporters are not at all this way,” Kelly told an audience in Washington. “It’s that far corner of the internet that really enjoys nastiness and threats and unfortunately there is a man who works for Donald Trump whose job it is to stir these people up and that man needs to stop doing that. His name is Dan Scavino.” Scavino was director of social media for Trump’s bitterly divisive election campaign. He is devoutly loyal to the billionaire businessman who reportedly first spotted him as a 16-year-old cleaning golf clubs, got him to caddie and eventually promoted him to general manager at one of his courses. Now in his 40s, Scavino has speculated that he might become the White House photographer or run its Twitter account. He and Kelly have clashed in public before. In October, after a heated exchange between the presenter and Trump ally Newt Gingrich, Scavino issued an ominous tweet: “Megyn Kelly made a total fool out of herself tonight – attacking Donald Trump. Watch what happens to her after this election is over.” MORE
DAILY BEAST: Before there was the controversy over a tweet involving the Star of David, Hillary Clinton, and a pile of money, there were other screw-ups. Dan Scavino, Donald Trump’s social media chief, once shared a video he claimed was of Syrian refugees rallying in support of ISIS in the streets of Germany. The video was a hoax, footage of a 2012 protest that had been repurposed by the fringe right as anti-refugee propaganda. He criticized Barack Obama for giving a televised address on the first night of Hanukkah. He suggested, instead, that the president should have done so on the previous Friday or Saturday night, during Shabbat, when a considerable portion of Jewish people forgo television and other technology. And then he posted another video, one that implied, with no discernible evidence, that Ted Cruz had an affair with his former staffer Amanda Carpenter, a married mother of two who was forced to go out and declare, on CNN, where she now works, that she has always been faithful to her husband.
All of this was done on Twitter, one of the mediums that Dan Scavino, as director of social media for a major presidential campaign, is supposed to have mastered. But like so many aspects of Donald Trump’s operation, Scavino’s digital outreach is not just unorthodox but a veritable forest of dumpsters doused with gasoline and lit by a match. Scavino, who did not return a phone call, text message, or email requesting an interview, is about as skilled a director of social media as Corey Lewandowski would be a masseur. Scavino has a large, square head and close-cropped hair. His nose is permanently scrunched up, like he’s smelling something awful, and his lips are permanently pressed together, like he’s tasting something sour. He is everything Trump, the de facto Republican nominee, looks for in an employee: confident despite little reason to be; bright enough to take orders but not enough to question them; frankly just lucky to be there; and above all—mostly due to that last thing—loyal. MORE