Megyn Kelly gets off to low-key start on ‘Sunday Night’

Megyn Kelly was arguably the highest-profile media figure of the 2016 campaign, thanks to her exchanges with Donald Trump. Yet as Trump was sworn in as president, the former Fox News anchor stayed sidelined, waiting to start her new assignment at NBC News.

Set up to host two different shows — including an hour of “Today” come fall — “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly” marked her official NBC debut, armed with a high-profile “get” interview with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

In a CNN interview, Kelly maintained “Sunday Night” would distinguish itself by being “cutting edge” and “a little irreverent.” Those attributes, however, weren’t particularly evident in a premiere that looked like pretty much any conventional newsmagazine, including separate pieces from Cynthia McFadden and Harry Smith.

Kelly’s centerpiece interview displayed some of the toughness that defined her at Fox, expressing disbelief when the Russian president claimed he hadn’t spoken with his ambassador about meetings with Trump’s inner circle. “Never?” she asked, with an arched eyebrow.

Still, Putin’s “Deny, deny, deny” strategy made the exchange theatrical enough but largely news-free. “I have no idea,” he said at one point, exhibiting an impressive lack of curiosity about what’s happening within his own government.

The program’s one wrinkle, such as it was, involved a segment called “The Kids’ Table,” which kicked off by having children talk about the importance of manners, inter-cut with cable news talking heads interrupting each other and bickering. Beyond pandering to NBC’s “LIttle Big Shots” audience, it felt more like a commentary on the environment Kelly left than a preview of where “Sunday Night” is heading.

Speculation about Kelly’s future at NBC raced ahead of her arrival, including a Vanity Fair piece that suggested she might be groomed to eventually fill the void when Matt Lauer leaves “Today,” NBC News’ most lucrative franchise.

By that measure, the primetime hour is perhaps the less significant part of Kelly’s new gig, since there’s ample room for skepticism about her softer side, which is much of what morning news entails. An attempt last year to show her off in a primetime Fox special featuring Trump and various celebrities proved notably weak.

As an on-screen presence, Kelly thrives in a more prosecutorial mode. Just as moving from “Today” to “The CBS Evening News” flummoxed Katie Couric, Kelly’s morning berth could deliver the sort of unintended wake-up call received by many transplanted news stars.

It’s worth noting, too, that Kelly came to NBC with a fair amount of baggage. Many liberals still associate her with Fox News, while Trump’s complaints about her debate questions alienated some of his supporters. In these polarized times, truly fresh starts are hard to come by.

Before announcing her Fox exit in January, Kelly described her dream job as a mixture of “a little Charlie Rose, a little Oprah, and a little me.”

NBC executives obviously have an investment in making the transition work, and “Sunday Night” marks a credible beginning. Nevertheless, if this first hour was any guide, it’s going to require more work and reinvention to find the ideal formula for that Kelly cocktail.

“Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” premiered June 4 at 7 p.m. on NBC.

Follow this story

Jordanian soldier charged with killing 3 US soldiers

The government of Jordan has formally charged one of its soldiers with murder over his alleged involvement in an attack last year on a military convoy that killed three U.S. service members, a Jordanian government official told CNN.

“He is being officially charged with murder with intent to kill,” the official said.

The official, who could not speak on the record because of the sensitivity of the issue, did not identify the soldier.

Three U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers were shot at the King Faisal Air Base in Jordan during the incident on November 4. There was an intense firefight between a Jordanian guard, who wore body armor and carried an M-16 rifle, and the U.S. soldiers, equipped only with sidearms.

Army Staff Sgt. Kevin McEnroe was killed instantly and Staff Sgt. Matthew Lewellen was mortally wounded when the guard opened fire on the soldiers’ vehicle while it was stopped at the base’s gate. The third man, Staff Sgt. James Moriarty, suffered a mortal wound after firing his pistol at the Jordanian guard.

‘Valorous conduct and extraordinary heroism’

In March, the U.S. military determined that the three men followed proper procedures during the incident, despite initial Jordanian media claims to the contrary.

A U.S. Special Operations Command investigation into the shooting found the U.S. forces “demonstrated valorous conduct and extraordinary heroism” after coming under fire from a Jordanian guard, according to a redacted copy of the report.

“There is no evidence that U.S. forces failed to fully comply with Jordanian Base entrance procedures,” the report said.

Jordanian state media initially blamed the incident on the soldiers’ failure to adhere to proper procedures at the base’s entrance, though U.S. officials disputed that at the time.

Investigators said they were able to obtain video surveillance footage of the event, allowing for a very detailed examination.

The report details the firefight between the Jordanian and the U.S. soldiers.

The men were part of a training mission in Jordan, and because of the lack of perceived threat and that country’s status as an American ally, the U.S. service members were traveling in unarmored vehicles, not wearing body armor and only carrying sidearms. The report recommends U.S. forces in the future use armored vehicles and carry at least one rifle with them.

Follow this story

Facebook wants to be ‘hostile’ to terrorists

Facebook says it wants to make its platform “hostile” to terrorists after an attack in London left at least seven people dead this weekend.

Simon Milner, the company’s director of policy, issued a widely reported statement Sunday that said the social media platform works “aggressively” to remove terrorist content.

“We want Facebook to be a hostile environment for terrorists,” he said.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May had earlier called for closer regulation of the internet, saying Sunday that terrorists need to be denied the digital tools they use to communicate and plan attacks.

“We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed,” May said. “Yet that is precisely what the internet and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide.”

May also said that democratic governments must regulate cyberspace, adding that “we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.”

Tech companies have increasingly come under pressure in Europe because of the way they handle threats and hate speech.

And Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and many other services have created encrypted channels that may shield communications from law enforcement.

Milner said Sunday that Facebook alerts authorities if it means preventing a terrorist attack from happening.

“If we become aware of an emergency involving imminent harm to someone’s safety, we notify law enforcement,” he said in the statement.

Nick Pickles, Twitter’s head of public policy in the U.K., also defended his company Sunday, telling CNNMoney in a statement that “terrorist content has no place on Twitter.”

He added that the company will “never stop working” to prevent events like the London terror attack from happening again.

At least seven people were killed and 48 were wounded Saturday night in London when three men drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge. They then went on a stabbing spree at nearby bars and restaurants.

The attack happened less than two weeks after 22 people were killed in another attack linked to terrorism at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Follow this story