Megyn Kelly, whose high-flying career as a Fox News anchor fell to earth after an ill-advised move to NBC — then remade herself as a conservative podcaster and radio host — is expected to return to the political spotlight on next month as moderator. for the next Republican primary debate.
The event, scheduled for Dec. 6 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is the fourth meeting of the party’s presidential candidates. Former President Donald J. Trump, who clashed (and later reconciled) with Ms. Kelly during the 2016 election, is unlikely to attend.
The debate will be hosted by the new NewsNation television network, a 24-hour cable news channel owned by Nexstar Media Group. Its selection by the Republican Party constitutes a sort of break for a channel still unknown to many viewers. The network has aggressively recruited veteran anchors and producers in recent years, but its audience remains small compared to competitors like Fox News or MSNBC.
Ms. Kelly will be joined on the moderators’ desk by Elizabeth Vargas, anchor of NewsNation, and Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news site. The Free Beacon and SiriusXM, which broadcasts Ms. Kelly’s radio show, are sponsoring the debate. The event will also be broadcast on digital platforms and local affiliates of The CW, the broadcast network owned by Nexstar.
NewsNation, which presents itself as a centrist and independent news service, has been dogged in the past by accusations of conservative bias, staff resignations and reports of dysfunction. Recently, it has added a number of familiar on-air personalities, including Dan Abrams, Ashleigh Banfield and Ms. Vargas, who previously anchored ABC’s “World News Tonight” and “20/20.” Chris Cuomo, who was fired by CNN in 2021 for ethics reasons, is the channel’s 8 p.m. host.
The network has also hired many former Fox News employees. Among them are Chris Stirewalt, the former Fox News political editor who was fired over his role in the network’s election night in Arizona that angered Mr. Trump, and Leland Vittert, a former correspondent who left the network after its critical reporting on Mr. Trump angered Lachlan Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox News’ parent company. Cherie Grzech, who led Fox News’ politics and election coverage for many years, is also with the network.
Political parties typically partner with a major broadcast or cable channel to host their primary debates, with the goal of reaching the largest possible audience. Last month, NewsNation averaged 118,000 prime-time viewers on weeknights, up 23 percent from the previous year. Sean Compton, the Nexstar executive who oversees NewsNation, said Thursday that the debate would be “an opportunity to introduce more Americans” to the channel’s “exceptional journalism.”
Other participants suggested that viewers could expect a different tone. Ms. Johnson, of The Free Beacon, said the debate would take place “outside the echo chamber of the traditional media” and would offer Republicans “a debate where conservative ideas and values are the field, not the target.” .
Ms. Kelly promised an entertaining evening. “It will be the margarita of the debates,” she said in a statement. “Spicy, fun and somewhat intoxicating. I can not wait to be there.