Thursday 22 February 2018

Megyn Kelly leaving Fox News for NBC

Megyn Kelly is joining NBC News (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Megyn Kelly is joining NBC News (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Megyn Kelly, the Fox News star who has had a contentious relationship with President-elect Donald Trump, has said she is leaving the network for NBC News

She will host a daytime talk show and a weekend news magazine, as well as contribute to breaking news coverage.

NBC News made the announcement, ending months of speculation over whether she would re-sign with Fox, where she has flourished while suffering bruised feelings in recent months, or start a new chapter in her career.

Her contract with Fox expires this summer and her last show will be on Friday night.

Kelly's departure deprives Fox News of its second-most-watched host, behind only Bill O'Reilly, and a hole at 9pm in its prime-time line-up.

"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," Kelly said in a message on Twitter.

Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of Fox, said that "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".

Kelly became one of Fox's hottest properties and a flashpoint in the presidential campaign after Mr Trump objected to her questioning in the first Republican presidential debate a year-and-a-half ago.

He tweeted angry messages about her and boycotted another Fox debate after the network refused to replace her as one of the debate moderators.

She also became a central figure in the downfall of former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, telling in-house investigators of alleged inappropriate conduct by Mr Ailes that supported women who had made similar accusations.

Details about Kelly's new jobs at NBC will be revealed in future months, said Andrew Lack, chairman of the NBC Universal News Group.

"Megyn is an exceptional journalist and news anchor who has had an extraordinary career," Mr Lack said.

"She's demonstrated tremendous skill and poise and we're lucky to have her."

Kelly was not immediately available for comment about what made her choose to leave Fox.

But she said in an interview with the Associated Press in November that the factors she was weighing "mostly involve a seven-, five- and three-year-old" - her children.

Her Fox show airs live at 9pm, giving her no time at home with her children in the evenings.

As a star in demand, Kelly was no doubt able to seek a schedule that would give her more time at home in the evening.

A former lawyer who was raised in upstate New York, Kelly turned to television and got a job in Fox's Washington office.

She was noticed by Mr Ailes and given a daytime show.

Her poise and sharpness, and willingness to ask tough questions of all political sides, made her a star and led Mr Ailes to give her a coveted prime-time slot on cable news' most-watched network.

Her contentious relationship with Mr Trump began when she asked the Republican businessman about statements he had made about women, infuriating him.

He tweeted his disdain for her and although they made peace when Kelly interviewed Mr Trump for a prime-time special last May, the relationship never became warm.

Mr Trump made Kelly's prime-time colleague, Sean Hannity, his preferred stopping place for interviews during the campaign and did not come on her Fox News Channel show.

"I really had to choose - am I going to be an honest journalist ... or am I going to suck up to Trump?" she told the AP. "I chose the former, and it's worked out fine for me."

It put Kelly in an awkward position with Fox News Channel viewers who favoured Mr Trump, however.

At one point during a Hannity interview with Mr Trump, a live audience at a Trump rally booed the mention of her name.

Kelly's immediate silence after Gretchen Carlson's lawsuit last summer alleging unwanted advances from Mr Ailes, at a time other Fox News personalities were supporting their boss, was telling.

She told investigators that Mr Ailes had made sexually suggestive comments to her and tried to kiss her, then made an angry reference to her contract when she rebuffed him.

Mr Ailes has denied any untoward advances involving Kelly.

Her move was a big boost for broadcast network news divisions, which had struggled somewhat during the presidential campaign given the non-stop coverage provided by the cable news outlets.

NBC News had recently been experimenting with a new Sunday night news magazine, Dateline NBC: On Assignment, hosted by Lester Holt in a traditional format with a mix of news and feature stories, a template Kelly is expected to use. Weekday Dateline editions focus on criminal justice stories.

The move was a blow to Fox and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, whose leaders James and Lachlan Murdoch had made re-signing Kelly a priority and were believed in the industry to be offering her more money to stay.

In her tweet on Tuesday, Kelly said she was deeply grateful to Fox News, its leaders and Fox's viewers, "who have taught me so much about what really matters".

Kelly gave a signal of her future direction with last May's interview special on the Fox broadcasting network. It was not a critical or commercial success, however.

Fox News does make in-house talent development a priority, however, and recently installed Tucker Carlson as a 7pm host following the abrupt departure of Greta Van Susteren last summer.

With Kelly taking a break over the holidays, Fox used Sandra Smith, Shannon Bream, Martha MacCallum and Trish Regan as substitutes.


Press Association

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