The writing may have been on the wall after a disastrous (personally) campaign season for Megyn Kelly. Media outlets are now beginning to report that Kelly will be leaving Fox News’ prime time lineup and heading to the greener pastures of NBC.
The decision to move on is Kelly’s, as most reports say that Fox News offered her a hefty sum, but she may have sealed her own fate by choosing to directly engage Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. While several of Kelly’s Fox News coworkers chose to treat the GOP candidate as one of their own, Kelly’s confrontational approach turned off many of Fox’s viewers (though it didn’t seem to hurt her or the networks ratings). The contentious campaign left Kelly as one of the least popular Fox News personalities, a proposition that was new and foreign territory for her.
Instead of seeking a way to mend the obviously ruptured relationship, Kelly has accepted an offer and a position with broadcast network NBC. While the amount of money she’ll be earning from her new deal is thus far undisclosed, one assumes that it is far higher than the last high-profile addition made by a broadcast network. In 2006, CBS signed Katie Couric to a deal worth $15 million per year. Fox News recently offered Kelly $20 million annually, but that does not mean that NBC necessarily outbid her current employer. As the New York Times notes, “Ms. Kelly had hinted in interviews and in her recently released memoir, “Settle for More,” that the highest bid would not decide her future; she said she was seeking a role that would give her more time with her three young children while allowing her to extend her range beyond the constant political combat of cable news.”
While NBC had indicated that they could not match Fox’s financial offer, they could offer her something that was perhaps even more compelling… a new challenge.
The 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.
Ms. Kelly’s departure continues what has been a tumultuous last 12 months (give or take) for Fox News. They’ve been mired in a sexual harassment scandal, settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit with Gretchen Carlson, watched Greta Van Susteren (another ratings leader) leave for rival MSNBC, and now there most important on-air talent is leaving for NBC. Thus far, the network has been able to hold itself together, distancing itself from the scandalized Roger Ailes and replacing Van Susteren with Tucker Carlson, whose new show has been a revelation. However, Megyn Kelly’s departure will likely prove much harder to resolve as she is well regarded across the industry and had become arguably the most important news anchor working today.
Kelly took to Facebook to offer her own explanation of why she was choosing to leave Fox News for NBC.
Over a dozen years ago I started at Fox News in a job that would change my life. Now, I have decided to end my time at FNC, incredibly enriched for the experiences I’ve had. I have agreed to join NBC News, where I will be launching a new daytime show Monday through Friday, along with a Sunday evening news magazine program. I will also participate in NBC’s breaking news coverage and its political and special events coverage.
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. More to come soon.
Happy New Year, and God bless.
It will be interesting to see how NBC chooses to move forward with Ms. Kelly and how Fox News will fill the gap left by her departure.