In a major TV shakeup, Fox News anchorwoman Megyn Kelly is jumping ship for NBC News, the network confirmed.
Jim Rutenberg, the media columnist for the New York Times, broke the news on Twitter. He wrote on January 3, “Megyn Kelly decides to leave Fox News for broad new role at NBC News.” The news ended weeks of speculation about whether Kelly would leave Fox, where she has publicly been at odds with some top personalities.
NBC chairman Andrew Lack then confirmed the news, saying, “Megyn is an exceptional journalist and news anchor, who has had an extraordinary career. She’s demonstrated tremendous skill and poise, and we’re lucky to have her.”
Kelly, who is 46-years-old, was the second-biggest ratings draw at Fox, where she had worked for 12 years.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kelly Will Take on a ‘Triple Role’ at NBC
According to The New York Times, Kelly was lured to NBC News by a promise of a “triple role” – she will “host her own daytime news and discussion program,” anchor big event and political coverage, and have her own “in-depth Sunday night news show.”
Kelly confirmed the move in a statement:
Kelly earned $15 million a year at Fox, second only to Bill O’Reilly, whose ratings are higher, The Hill reported. The Los Angeles Times reported through sources that it’s believed Kelly is making about the same as she made at Fox – $15 million.
In a press release announcing Kelly’s hire, NBC said: “Kelly will become anchor of a new one hour daytime program that she will develop closely with NBC News colleagues. The show will air Monday through Friday at a time to be announced in the coming months. As part of the multi-year agreement, Kelly will also anchor a new Sunday evening news magazine show and will become an important contributor to NBC’s breaking news coverage as well as the network’s political and special events coverage.”
Details about both of Kelly’s news programs “will be unveiled in the coming months,” said NBC.
2. Kelly’s Departure Was Rumored For Months
Kelly had previously floated the possibility of leaving Fox publicly. She said she had not “ruled anything out” in November. Other networks were reportedly also vying for Kelly, such as CNN.
Fox News’ owners, the Murdochs, had offered Kelly more than $20 million to stay, reported CNN.
New York Magazine reported that the final offer may have gone up to $25 million, although there is disagreement from sources as to whether Kelly requested it or the Murdochs offered it.
Kelly was coveted by some because her show led cable news programs with viewers in “the critical 25-to-54 demographic.”
3. Kelly Had Disagreements With Top Fox Personalities
Kelly had publicly alleged that she was sexually harassed by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. In her recent book, Settle For More, she discussed those allegations and “the environment at Fox News,” reported New York Magazine.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kelly “received a reported $6 million advance from publisher HarperCollins (a 21st Century Fox subsidiary.)”
The book stoked the ire of Kelly’s Fox anchor colleague, Bill O’Reilly, who said he didn’t want to talk about Kelly’s sexual harassment claims because “I’m not interested in making my network look bad.”
He also said: “If somebody is paying you a wage, you owe that person or company allegiance. You don’t like what’s happening in the workplace, go to human resources or leave. And then take the action you need to take afterward if you feel aggrieved … But don’t run down the concern that supports you by trying to undermine it.”
In response, Kelly said it was Ailes who had made Fox News look bad. The back-and-forth cemented perceptions of a widely reported feud between the two.
New York Magazine reported, through sources, that her departure from Fox “is an indication of just how unhappy she had become at Fox in the wake of her high-profile feud with Donald Trump and revelations she had accused Ailes of sexual harassment” and added that her rapport with both O’Reilly and Sean Hannity had “completely broken down.”
4. Kelly’s Star Rose After Her Feuds With Donald Trump
When Kelly decided to ask Donald Trump a question about his treatment of women during the presidential debate, it cast the Fox News anchorwoman in a new light. And now Trump is the president elect.
Although Kelly’s questioning style has generated anger among Trump supporters, the episode (and Trump’s subsequent comment that some perceived as referring to Kelly menstruating) raised Kelly’s profile and placed her in hotter demand.
While Kelly received more attention, the Trump focus also caused Kelly some personal turmoil.
Kelly told The Hollywood Reporter in November that death threats and security concerns followed the Trump controversies.
5. Kelly Had Said Her Previous Hours Were Tough With Young Children
Family concerns might have played a role in the switch. Kelly had previously commented that “the current schedule I’m on is not ideal for a mother of young children.”
“Kelly lives in New York City with her husband Doug Brunt, a novelist, and their three children,” NBC News said in its statement. After proposing to Kelly on a beach, Brunt married the anchorwoman in 2008. Brunt and Kelly have sons Yates and Thatcher and a daughter, Yardley. All are under age 7.
Kelly has a B.A. with honors in Political Science from Syracuse University and a J.D. with honors from Albany Law School, where she served as editor of the Albany Law Review, said the network. The NBC statement says, “Before joining FNC, Kelly served as a general assignment reporter for WJLA-TV (ABC 7) in Washington, D.C. where she covered national and local stories of interest, including the 2004 presidential race and the D.C. sniper case. Prior to her career in television news, Kelly practiced law as a corporate litigator at Jones Day for seven years and was an associate in the Chicago office of Bickel & Brewer LLP for two years.”
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