Meh. Gabriel Sherman’s Fox scoops are always zesty but I don’t buy it. The psychology of it feels all wrong. “She couldn’t make it out in the big bad broadcast news world. She had to come crawling home, to a place where it’s not so weird to wonder on-air what’s wrong with blackface.” Kelly wouldn’t want to hear that.
And she would hear it. A lot.
Sherman’s point about her recent rightward lean on NBC is interesting, though. I think she’s always been center-right but she does seem to have been showing it off a little more lately. And do note that this isn’t the first report today about a possible Kelly homecoming. The Daily Mail also claims to be hearing rumbles about discussions with Fox.
Weeks before the blackface imbroglio that resulted in her being pulled off the air, Megyn Kelly was looking for a way out of NBC. Her relationship with the peacock network had badly soured—in truth, it had never been good—and Kelly told friends she wanted to return to Fox News, according to two Fox News sources familiar with her thinking. “She wants to come back,” a person close to Kelly told me. Over the past month, according to two sources with knowledge of Kelly’s programming decisions, she made comments on air that would burnish her right-wing credentials for a prospective Fox homecoming. For instance, she vigorously defended Brett Kavanaugh on multiple occasions, calling Dr. Christine Blasey Ford a “Democrat donor” who was represented by a “well-known Democratic activist.”…
Many factors are at play. Fox sources say the Murdochs, and Lachlan in particular, are still angry that Kelly rejected a $25 million a year offer before decamping to NBC. Among Fox anchors and producers, Kelly also remains a polarizing figure. Fox staffers resented how she leveraged her feud with Donald Trump during the 2016 election for mainstream-media celebrity. Fox staffers also complain that she capitalized on Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit to position herself as a #MeToo crusader only after it was clear that Roger Ailes was going down. “There’s a lot of Schadenfreude,” one anchor said.
Don’t forget the bad blood with Hannity! Sherman says that Fox isn’t interested at the moment because the new head honcho, Rupert Murdoch’s son Lachlan, likes the current line-up. That’s why I was skeptical earlier about the Daily Mail story: Where would she possibly fit in? They’re not going to break up Trump TV in primetime to bring back Fox viewers’ least-favorite anchor. (Well, second-least favorite. Right, Shep?) They couldn’t if they wanted to. Carlson and Ingraham presumably have years to go on their contracts and there’s no way Trump buddy Sean Hannity, the face of the network now, is getting bumped.
If there’s any truth to the Fox rumor, it has to involve a weekly show, not a nightly one. That might be doable, particularly given that Kelly will be set for life with NBC money once she’s done negotiating her exit there. She could work for free for Fox if she wanted to, possibly doing a one-hour weekend newsmagazine of the sort she briefly ran for NBC. Or maybe she’ll bypass Fox News and land at Fox Television and do a newsmagazine there. They already let her try that out, you may remember, back before she left for NBC, when they were trying to sign her long-term. Her star guest for the hour was — drumroll — Republican nominee Donald Trump, who kinda sorta buried the hatchet with her. If she wants to do that again, whether on Fox TV or on a Fox News weekend slot, at a deeply discounted salary, the Murdochs might consider it. Why not?
And if she does it for a couple of years and the ratings are okay, and then Hannity leaves the network for whatever reason or Ingraham’s contract comes up, she’ll be waiting in the bullpen to take the mound in primetime again.
I still think her best option is CNN. The staff there won’t like the idea of carrying her baggage but ratings beggars can’t be choosers. And a nightly show would be better for Kelly than a newsmagazine, all of which are disposable apart from “60 Minutes.” She needs to be back in the fray doing politics and sparring with panelists about the news; the reunion with Kirsten Powers after Powers dropped this op-ed on her today would alone be worth hiring her. If she did a year or two at CNN and their evening ratings improved — how could they not? — she might move up to co-anchoring stuff like presidential primary debates and election-night returns with Anderson Cooper or Tapper or whoever. That’s the sort of thing she’s good at. Drop the soft-focus Barbara Walters celebrity interviews and just be who you are.