The New York Times reports that Fox News host Megyn Kelly will be leaving the network this year and moving to NBC News where she will be starting two new programs and working as a contributor during special political coverage:
NBC News chairman, Andrew Lack, wooed Ms. Kelly away from Fox News by offering her a triple role in which she will host her own daytime news and discussion program, anchor an in-depth Sunday night news show and take regular part in the network’s special political programming and other big-event coverage…
Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, which is controlled by the family of Rupert Murdoch, had offered Ms. Kelly more than $20 million a year to stay after her current contract expires this year. Rival networks seeking to hire Ms. Kelly away, including NBC News, had made it clear that they could not match that money from Fox, the cable news leader for the last 15 years running.
A short time after the story broke, Kelly published a statement on her Facebook confirming her departure and saying she would miss her colleagues at Fox:
While I will greatly miss my colleagues at Fox, I am delighted to be joining the NBC News family and taking on a new challenge. I remain deeply grateful to Fox News, to Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch, and especially to all of the FNC viewers, who have taught me so much about what really matters.
There is some speculation in the NY Times story that Kelly’s departure is the result of ongoing bad blood at Fox over the sexual harassment allegations against former CEO Roger Ailes. That story erupted last year when former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes for wrongful termination. An internal investigation at Fox News eventually turned up 20 additional women who claimed to have been harassed by Ailes over the years. One of those women was Megyn Kelly, who reportedly showed investigators notes she had taken regarding specific incidents.
Ailes resigned his job at Fox News in July of 2016. In November, Kelly published a book detailing some of the harassment she experienced. From People magazine:
“I would be called into Roger’s office, he would shut the door, and over the next hour or two, he would engage in a kind of cat-and-mouse game with me—veering between obviously inappropriate sexually charged comments (e.g., about the ‘very sexy bras’ I must have and how he’d like to see me in them) and legitimate professional advice.”…
“Roger called me up to New York and we had a shocking exchange. I was nervous about going into his office, concerned he might start in again. Sure enough he did. And then he crossed a new line — trying to grab me repeatedly and kiss me on the lips.”
One person at Fox News who seemed to react strongly to Kelly’s decision to bring forth her allegations against Ailes was fellow host Bill O’Reilly. Asked in November about the allegations detailed by Kelly in her book, O’Reilly became visibly upset with the question and said he wasn’t interested in making Fox News look bad. O’Reilly then did a “tip of the day” segment on his own show in which he discussed the importance of loyalty to the people paying your salary. He concluded that segment saying, “If you don’t like what’s happening in the workplace, go to human resources or leave.” It seems that’s exactly what Kelly decided to do.
This Inside Edition clip captures some of the back and forth between Fox News’ leading hosts:
Update: 21st Century Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch released a brief statement on Kelly’s departure: “We thank Megyn Kelly for her 12 years of contributions to FOX News. We hope she enjoys tremendous success in her career and wish her and her family all the best.”