NBC host Megyn Kelly launched a broadside at both her former employer, Fox News, and colleague, Bill O’Reilly on her own talk show Monday. Kelly told viewers that she had complained directly to Fox News’ co-presidents about an interview O’Reilly had conducted on “CBS This Morning” last November after she had accused former Fox chief Roger Ailes of sexual harassment in her newly published book.
Monday’s segment came after The New York Times reported that O’Reilly had paid former Fox on-air legal analyst Lis Wiehl $32 million to settle a harassment claim earlier this year. The Times also reported that Fox and O’Reilly had paid out millions of dollars of settlements to other women who had leveled charges of sexual harassment against him over the years. In a statement, O’Reilly said he had been “maliciously smeared” in the report.
On her show Monday morning, Kelly -- who left Fox last May -- called “that [$32 million] . . . a jaw-dropping figure. O.J. Simpson was ordered to pay the Goldman and Brown families $33.5 million for the murders of Ron and Nicole. What on earth would justify that amount? What awfulness went on? Wiehl reportedly alleging she was subjected to nonconsensual sex by O’Reilly, which he denies.”
The host cited O’Reilly’s statement that no woman had ever complained to corporate officials about his behavior and said ”maybe that is true [because] Fox News was not exactly a friendly environment for harassment victims who wanted to report, in my experience. However, O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false. I know because I complained.”
She then quoted at length from an email she said she sent to FNC co-presidents Bill Shine, who stepped down 10 months after former chief executive Roger Ailes was ousted, and Jack Abernethy, saying of O’Reilly, “‘Perhaps he didn’t realize the kind of message [his comments] sends to young women across this country about how men continue to view the issue of speaking out about sexual harassment. Perhaps he didn’t realize that his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment on grounds that ‘it will disgrace the company’ is in part how Fox News got into the decadelong Ailes mess to begin with.”
Ailes, who died in May, was ousted from the network in 2016 after multiple charges of sexual harassment surfaced against him.
Further reading from her email -- which Kelly said she sent Nov. 16, or the day O’Reilly appeared on “CBS This Morning” suggesting her memoir’s details regarding sexual harassment made the network “look bad,” she added, ”Perhaps it’s his own history of harassment of women which has, as you both know, resulted in payouts to more than one woman, including recently, that blinded him to the folly of saying anything other than ‘I am just so sorry for the women of this company who never should have had to go through that.’ Bill Shine called me in response to my email, promising to deal with O’Reilly. By 8 p.m. that night, O’Reilly had apparently been dealt with. And by that I mean he was permitted with management’s advance notice and blessing to go on the air (during ‘The O’Reilly Factor’) and attack the company’s harassment victims yet again.’”
O’Reilly was fired from the network in April.
After finishing, Kelly said, “Women everywhere are used to being dismissed, ignored or attacked when raising complaints about men in authority positions. They stay silent so often out of fear.”
On Monday’s program, Kelly also interviewed Juliet Huddy, a former Fox anchor who accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment and later won a settlement from the company. In a statement responding to Kelly’s and Huddy’s charges, 21st Century Fox said the company “has taken concerted action to transform Fox News, including installing new leaders, overhauling management and on-air talent, expanding training, and increasing the channels through which employees can report harassment or discrimination.”