CREDIT: AP PHOTO/CHRIS CARLSON/ CHARLES SYKES/INVISION/AP, FILE
In the wake of former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, a phalanx of women from the network have come forward to defend their CEO. At the same time, a handful of women, mostly anonymous, reached out to Carlson’s lawyer to describe sexual advances Ailes made to them; their allegations date back decades. Missing from that back and forth, though, was Megyn Kelly, easily one of the most famous and influential political commentators in TV news today.
New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman has learned from “to two sources briefed on parent company 21st Century Fox’s outside probe” of Ailes that Kelly has told investigators that “Ailes made unwanted sexual advances toward her about ten years ago when she was a young correspondent at Fox.” Sherman speculates that Kelly’s reported disclosure is part of what’s driving the speed with which the Murdoch family — Rupert and his sons are 21st Century Fox’s top executives — is having Ailes removed from his post.
Kelly, 45, is a Fox star, whose flashes of outspoken feminism on the conservative network have even endeared her (or at least, earned some grudging respect) from viewers across the aisle. Her show, The Kelly File, rakes in viewers: For a few months in 2015, she beat cable phenom Bill O’Reilly in the coveted 25-54 demographic. She reportedly earns about $10 million a year from her Fox gig alone. (Income from some side hustles, like a book deal with HarperCollins, is rumored to be just as high.) Her contract, as Sherman reports, is being negotiated now, and she “is seen by many inside Fox as the future of the network.”
In an industry — really, in a world — in which women who accuse powerful men of sexual misconduct have little leverage, Kelly is a remarkable exception. Ailes, 76, has reportedly been given an August 1 deadline to pack up his Bankers boxes and hightail out of the office or face being fired for cause. No comment yet on Kelly from Ailes’ or Kelly’s camps.