Trump’s nemesis Megyn Kelly is quitting Fox News, and will host two shows on NBC instead
Megyn Kelly, the Fox News star who’s had a contentious relationship with US president-elect Donald Trump, said Tuesday that she’s leaving the network for NBC News, where she will host a daytime talk show and a weekend newsmagazine, as well as contribute to breaking news coverage.
NBC News made the announcement Tuesday, ending months of speculation over whether she would stay 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. Her last show on Fox will be Friday night.
Kelly’s departure deprives Fox News of its second-most-watched host, behind only Bill O’Reilly, and leaves a hole at 9pm in its prime-time lineup.
“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 on Tuesday.
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’s star power grew after she became a flashpoint in the presidential campaign after 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 inappropriate conduct by Ailes that supported women who had made similar accusations.
Details about Kelly’s new jobs at NBC will be revealed in upcoming 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” Lack said. “She’s demonstrated tremendous skill and poise, and we’re lucky to have her.”
Kelly wasn’t 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 7-, 5- and 3-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 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 Ailes to give her a coveted prime-time slot on cable news’ most-watched network.
Her contentious relationship with 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 Trump for a prime-time special last May, the relationship never became warm. Trump made Kelly’s prime-time colleague, Sean Hannity, his preferred stopping place for interviews during the campaign and didn’t 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 favored Trump, however. At one point during a Hannity interview with 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 Ailes, at a time other Fox News personalities were supporting their boss, was telling. She told investigators that 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. Ailes has denied any untoward advances involving Kelly.