Donald Trump's trolling of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly on Twitter isn't hurting her standing with viewers.
"The Kelly File" delivered 3.1 million viewers on Monday, the program's largest audience of the year and more than the rest of the cable news competition on CNN, MSNBC and HLN combined in the 9 p.m. Eastern Time hour, Nielsen data showed. Kelly was also the cable news leader in the time slot among the 25-to-54 age group most desired by advertisers for cable news programming, scoring 603,000 viewers.
Kelly returned from a vacation only to be subjected to harsh tweets from Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination who apparently hasn't gotten over the tough questioning he received from the anchor at the Aug. 6 primary debate. "I liked The Kelly File much better without @megynkelly. Perhaps she could take another eleven day unscheduled vacation!" Trump tweeted, prompting a spate of other attacks on the anchor that he retweeted.
Trump was publicly slammed for his social media mudslinging Tuesday by Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. Ailes issued a lengthy statement defending his anchor and criticizing Trump for behavior described as crude and irresponsible.
Ailes privately tried to quiet Trump when the candidate first started stewing over Kelly's handling of him in the days after the debate. The truce was short lived.
Trump's display may have had viewers tuning in to see Kelly respond (she didn't, and has refrained from publicly discussing any of Trump's comments about her). Her vacation, the first she has taken in six months, had been planned in advance, Fox News has said.
Kelly managed to draw ratings with a Trump-free broadcast. Her guests were Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and the stepmother of Alex Skarlatos, one of the American servicemen who subdued a gunman on a high-speed train in France.
But Kelly did have a strong lead-in from "The O'Reilly Factor," which opened with an interview with Trump. The hour anchored by Bill O'Reilly averaged 3.3 million viewers.