Shots fired: Megyn Kelly vs Bill O'Reilly ... vs Fox News PR?

Bill O’Reilly’s rebuttal to a New York Times report on an alleged $32 million settlement with Lis Wiehl came under fire from a former prime-time colleague turned daytime host on NBC. O’Reilly insists that no one ever filed complaints about him with HR or Legal at Fox News, but Megyn Kelly disputes that — to a point.  “O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false,” Kelly tells her Megyn Kelly Today audience. “I know because I complained.”

Shots fired:

While Kelly offers a forceful and emotional pushback to O’Reilly, it’s also a bit of a non-sequitur. O’Reilly’s statement clearly referred to complaints about sexual harassment and abuse. “I know because I complained” about his “behavior” made it sound as though Kelly was about to unveil a new, sordid accusation about her former colleague. Instead, Kelly admits that O’Reilly may be factually correct in his statement about a lack of reports to Fox News, and that her complaint was about O’Reilly’s public campaign to attack and belittle his accusers. That qualifies as “behavior,” but it’s not quite a rebuttal to O’Reilly, even if it does demonstrate that Fox was getting pushback on O’Reilly from within.

The main thrust of Kelly’s statement is to draw attention to why there were no internal efforts to complain about O’Reilly, which Kelly chalks up to a fiercely hostile work environment abetted by then-Fox News head Roger Ailes, their now-departed legal counsel — and still-current Fox News PR chief, Irena Briganti. Kelly accused her of “push[ing] negative articles on certain Ailes accusers like the one you are looking at right now.” Briganti is “known for her vindictiveness,” Kelly asserts, and evidence that Fox News — while making progress — is far from having reformed. With that kind of ammunition ranged at alleged victims, is it any surprise that they didn’t tip their hand to HR or Legal?

Kelly didn’t just leave this at a personal statement. She interviewed former Fox news anchor Juliet Huddy, with whom O’Reilly reached a separate settlement, for a segment titled “Juliet Huddy Takes On Fox Culture.” Kelly seems to be willing to take on Briganti and Fox’s PR group with a much bigger platform. We’ll see what Briganti and Fox have to say about that, but as Huddy lawyer Douglas Wigdor says, they may have some other fires to fight instead.