After Ailes, Fox News has a crisis: Can it keep Megyn Kelly?

Kelly is the most prized anchor in cable news at the moment. When word circulated around the newsroom that Kelly had spoken with the Murdochs, “everyone got nervous all over again,” according to one staffer, suggesting that she might be preparing to leave. It turns out that Kelly has spoken multiple times with all of the Murdochs, and has spent the most time with Lachlan, who has been in close touch with her throughout the whole Ailes imbroglio, according to a person familiar with the matter. “Lachlan was the one who talked to her throughout this entire ordeal,” this person added. But both brothers are aligned in their desire to keep the broadcaster, this person added. “James loves Megyn. He believes she’s a big part of the future of this channel.”

Besides a ratings hit, losing Kelly would be devastating for the optics of Fox News. “On top of all their troubles they have, if they lose their ‘It girl,’ they’ll be in even worse shape,” one rival television executive told me. The Ailes scandal has given her additional leverage. “If I’m her agent, I’m thinking ka-ching,” the executive added. Kelly, who according to the L.A. Times makes around $10 million a year at Fox News, could possibly command double that when her current contract expires in July 2017, a figure more in line with what her in-house rival and nemesis Bill O’Reilly reportedly earns.

Some rival television executives engage in optimistic thinking that one additional wrinkle to keeping Kelly at Fox News is O’Reilly himself. The two of them anchor the channel’s two highest-rated shows, but they rarely interact. O’Reilly tapes his show most days between four P.M. and six P.M. Kelly is on live nightly at nine P.M.

The enmity between them is palpable. O’Reilly, who also has one year to go on his contract, was one of Trump’s biggest defenders throughout his public battle with Kelly. Rupert Murdoch knows and likes O’Reilly. The brothers, however, reportedly are not fans. The rival news executive floated to me the possibility that if O’Reilly stays, Kelly is likely to go.

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