Megyn Kelly’s decision to jump from Fox News to NBC resolves one of the last unanswered questions of the Roger Ailes scandal: Would she stay or would she go when her contract ended? With her last show set to air on Friday, Kelly’s departure raises a new series of questions about how transferrable her talents are and where Fox News is headed now that the network has lost its biggest star and one of its few hosts with serious mainstream credibility.
For Kelly, the jump from a primetime perch at Fox to a multifaceted role at NBC carries a high degree of risk. She’ll be giving up the most loyal audience in cable news for new set of platforms that she’ll have to largely build herself. At NBC, Kelly will anchor an Oprah-like daytime show, launch a new Sunday night news magazine, and contribute to the network’s political coverage. The track record for talented anchors launching daytime programs hasn’t been good (see: Katie Couric, Meredith Vieira, Anderson Cooper), and no Fox News star has successfully crossed over to the mainstream before. But Kelly’s prodigious talents as a broadcaster, not to mention her canny media instincts, could help her defy the trend.
Sources close to Kelly told me today that her departure 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. Her relationships with Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity in particular had completely broken down, one Fox host told me. “Bill hated her,” the host said. As Kelly’s contract negotiations dragged on during her much-publicized book tour, things also grew strained with Rupert Murdoch, two sources said. One Fox insider told me Murdoch balked when Kelly asked for $25 million late in the talks. (A person close to Kelly disputed this, saying that said Kelly never asked for a specific dollar amount but that Fox had offered $25 million.)