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“I too have tendered advice to Sulla to retire from public life and sleep the sleep of the just.”   -Juvenal, Satires 1. 15-18[1]
 Last weekend, I read Megyn Kelly’s Settle for More. In her memoir, she wrote about being bullied as a teenager, her very public fight with Donald Trump during the 2016 election, and dealing with unfair criticism that is attracted by success.
I want to highlight one of two passages in this week’s educational moment. The other, I will discuss next week. The first is funny; the second is a prescription for overcoming discrimination.

 

Haters Gonna Hate

As she was rising through the ranks at FoxNews, apparently her success brought her the wrong kind of attention. Rumors of an affair between Megyn and her boss, Brit Hume, circulated online. Radaronline.com reported that Fox Publicist Paul Schur, a colleague of Hume and Kelly, “anonymously edited the gossip into [Megyn Kelly’s] Wikipedia entry, inserting this claim: “There are many rumors that [Megyn Kelly] has a very ‘special’ relationship with managing editor Brit Hume, the reason for her plum assignments at Fox News.”[2]
Kelly was horrified by the gossip. Brit Hume was a mentor, but she was not involved with Hume. Adding insult to injury was an obvious, sexist double-standard. Hume was also Brett Baier’s mentor, but he did not have this kind of allegation to contend with. She was also worried about what people would think. She wrote, “I hated that people might think I was getting ahead by sleeping my way to the top.”[3]
Brit Hume took the matter much more casually than she did. As Kelly explained, he found it almost amusing. Kelly wrote,

I, on the other hand, was not smiling. ‘Wait, you’re upset about this?’ He asked, surprised. He was genuinely amused by it, and this its absurdity was apparent to all.
‘Of course I’m upset!’ I said. ‘People will believe it.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous!’ he said. ‘They won’t.’
‘Yes, they will,’ I said, knowing all too well that people love to dismiss potentially threatening women as ‘nuts or sluts.’  Evidently I didn’t pass for a nut…[4]

 

Brit Hume’s Advice

As Kelly continued to protest, Hume provided sage advice:

‘Nobody knows me. They’ll see that I’m thirty years younger and blonde, and they’ll just assume that’s the whole story.’
‘They won’t,’ he said, ‘because we didn’t have an affair. Therefore there will never be proof of an affair. There will never be a text, a photograph, a phone bill, a doorman, a driver, an email, or anything whatsoever that suggests an affair. And people will come to see that it’s a lie’ And he was right. I think about that lesson to this day when I see people say false things about me: over time the truth comes out.[5] (emphasis added)

Hume’s advice was spot-on. If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear. Yes, someone may smear you. Yes, others might believe it. But ultimately, no one can prove you did what you did not do.
 

Last Words

Megyn told another story related to the imaginary affair. She recounted Hume’s comments at his retirement party:

‘I haven’t been this honored since that rumor was going around about me having an affair with Megyn Kelly,’ he quipped. ‘You know, when that rumor first broke,’ he continued, ‘the Fox News PR people came to me and said, ‘We’ve got to tamp this down.’ And I said, “Do we have to tamp it down right away?
‘‘Well, it’s not true, is it?’ the rep said.
‘No,’ I said, ‘but it’s not impossible!’[6]

Now, that is funny.
It is funny only because the whole thing was absurd. It is like calling an overgrown football player “Tiny,” where calling a short person “Tiny” would be cruel. But herein lies the lesson. If it is not true, there is little to fear.
Proverbs 28:1a tells us that, “The wicked flee though no one pursues” and Algernon Sidney wrote, “Liars ought to have good memories.”[7]  Keep your conscience clean and “sleep the sleep of the just.”[8]
Live your life in such a way that, if ever you are accused of wrongdoing, the charge will appear so preposterous that none of your colleagues or clients will be able to believe it.
 

End Notes

[1] Juvenal, as cited in Taplin, O. (2000). Literature in the Greek and Roman worlds: A new perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (p. 470).
[2] Radar Staff (2008, October 27). Axed Fox newser behind Brit Hume affair rumor. Radar online. Retrieved from http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2008/10/axed-fox-newser-behind-brit-hume-affair-rumor-php/
[3] Kelly, M. (2016). Settle for More. HarperCollins Publishers. (p. 150).
[4] Kelly, M. (2016). Settle for More. HarperCollins Publishers. (p. 151).
[5] Kelly, M. (2016). Settle for More. HarperCollins Publishers. (p. 151).
[6] Kelly, M. (2016). Settle for More. HarperCollins Publishers. (p. 152).
[7] Sidney, A. (2002). Discourses on government. Union, NJ: Lawbook Exchange. Book IV, Chapter II, 91.
[8] Juvenal, as cited in Taplin, O. (2000). Literature in the Greek and Roman worlds: A new perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (p. 470).