Patrick Demarchelier exclusively for Vanity Fair
In sickness or health, Megyn Kelly is a journalist on a mission.
Nearly five months after her now infamous interaction with Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump during the first GOP debate, the 45-year-old Fox News host is opening up about the events that led up to that climactic moment. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.
"He would send me press clippings about me that he would just sign 'Donald Trump' and he called from time to time to compliment a segment," Kelly said in Vanity Fair's February issue, recollecting her interactions with Trump prior to his June announcement of a presidential bid.
"I didn't know why he was doing that and then when he announced that he was running for president, it became more clear. But, I can't be wooed. I was never going to love him, and I was never going to hate him."
The storied journalist maintained her composure all the way up to the August debate stage, which she co-hosted alongside moderators Bret Baier and Chris Wallace as a then total of 17 candidates vied for America's attention.
However, there was one question in particular Kelly couldn't wait to ask the hot-button candidate, Trump—and nothing would stop her.
"I would have crawled over a pile of hot coals to make it to that debate. No one was going to be sitting in for me, reading my questions," she said, revealing that she had woken up the morning of the debate "violently ill."
Still, she took her seat at the table that evening—reportedly with a vomit bucket on the floor next to her—and asked the question that would be replayed endlessly in the days to follow:
"You've called women fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals...Your Twitter has several disparaging comments about women's looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge ofHillary Clinton, who is likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?"
Kelly asserted she was well-prepared to pose the question.
"I wrote it. I researched each line item myself. It was interesting to me after the debate when people started fact-checking my question," she told Vanity Fair. "My own reaction was 'Bring it on.' You think I'd go out there and ask a question like that at the first GOP debate without making sure I was bulletproof on every single word?"
After more than a decade in the industry, Kelly still can't forget the media trailblazer who inspired her to retire her days as a trial lawyer in pursuit of a life in front of the camera—Oprah Winfrey.
"In all her years coming up...she never wallowed in any sort of victimhood...She didn't play the gender card and she didn't play the race card. She was just so good we couldn't ignore her. That's my example," Kelly said. "Just get to the table and then do better than everybody else."
Do better, but start off on equal footing.
"Every so often, as all [women] know, you have to stop and slap somebody around a little bit who doesn't understand that we are actually equals and not second-class citizens."