Megyn Kelly said WHAT about pepper spray? Not what you may think



Fox News' Megyn Kelly is today's media punching bag for comments she made on Bill O'Reilly about law enforcement's now-notorious use of pepper spray on Occupy protesters at UC Davis.

The Twitterverse is mocking her. She was a trending topic on Google. One gossip blog portrays Kelly as saying it was all "no big deal!" The Change.Org petition du jour challenges her to eat or drink  pepper spray on the air, and so far it has more than 16,000 "signatures" and counting. And CollegeNews.com says Kelly downplays the severity of being doused pepper spray.

Now, there's little need to defend Megyn Kelly. (If you watch her on Fox, you probably would agree she doesn't need help defending herself.) But this oversize reaction raises the question: Did anyone actually watch this clip?

If you stick around for the end of the four-minute segment, there are times when Kelly seems to be arguing with O'Reilly on behalf of the Occupy folks.  

The interview begins with O'Reilly asking about the nature of pepper spray itself, to which Kelly says "It's a derivative of actual pepper, it's a food product, essentially." She's being taken to task for that on Twitter, where a #megynkellyessentially meme has cropped up.

Except ... Kelly is correct. Pepper spray is basically habanero juice, according to Discovery News. And video viewers will note that Kelly very quickly adds that the composition of pepper spray "is really beside the point" and points out that the students were struck with something "obviously invasive and obtrusive and several went to the hospital."

As for the rest of the interview, Kelly, who is an attorney, appears to be evenhandedly informing the audience about the complex legal issues involved in the high-profile incident and even -- gasp! -- calls for more evidence before rushing to judgment.

"Listen, I know the tape looks bad, I agree it looks bad, all I am saying is from a legal standpoint, I don't know that the cops did anything wrong. We're going to have to learn more about the facts."

And even if the police have the law on their side, Kelly says, there might a larger moral question. 

"It looks like these cops have room to argue that this was not excessive force. Does that mean they should have effected the arrests in this way? That's a moral decision."

At that point, O'Reilly brusquely wraps up that line of discussion with a "Yeah, but I don't think we have the right to Monday-morning quarterback the police."

Finally, Kelly appears to scoff at law enforcement's contention that officers felt surrounded and endangered by students who refused orders to disperse. That position may seem at odds with the demeanor of the officer who appears to walk blithely back and forth in front of the row of seated students, shooting pepper spray in their faces.

"Really? Does this guy look like he feels threatened? I don't know," Kelly says.

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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch 

 
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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal


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