Fox's star anchor Megyn Kelly joining NBC News

Ms Kelly's exit will leave a big hole in Fox's prime-time line-up.
Ms Kelly's exit will leave a big hole in Fox's prime-time line-up.

Prominent role awaits Kelly, whose profile soared after Trump feud

WASHINGTON • Ms Megyn Kelly, a star host at Fox News whose profile soared after a feud with Mr Donald Trump, will leave the network for a prominent role at NBC News, a person at NBC News has confirmed.

Ms Kelly will host a daytime news and discussion programme, anchor a Sunday night news show and be featured in NBC's political programming and other big-event coverage, according to the New York Times, the first to report her departure.

Ms Kelly has been the host of Fox's second-most-watched programme, The Kelly File, and has been a breakout star in the cable news landscape. Her departure will leave a big programming hole in Fox's prime-time line-up, which has long been anchored by her programme and Mr Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor at 8pm.

Ms Kelly has been hotly pursued by rival networks as her contract approached its final months.

Her value soared, perhaps inadvertently, when Mr Trump criticised her for asking him about his attitude towards women during the first Republican presidential debate in August 2015. He continued to belittle her via Twitter throughout the campaign.

Fox News had sought to keep Ms Kelly, reportedly offering her as much as US$20 million (S$29 million) to remain as host of her daily programme - a US$5 million-a- year boost over her current pay.

Her contract at Fox runs through the summer, and it remains unclear when she will begin her new role at NBC.

The loss of Ms Kelly creates even greater uncertainty at Fox, which has been rocked since last summer by multiple sexual harassment allegations against Mr Roger Ailes, its founder and former chairman.

Mr Ailes, who has denied the charges, was ousted in July after more than two dozen women - including Ms Kelly and former anchor Gretchen Carlson - came forward with accusations against him.

Ms Kelly's complaints against Mr Ailes, made public in her best-selling memoir, Settle For More, created tension within Fox, especially among her fellow news stars.

Mr O'Reilly suggested, without naming her, that she was being disloyal to the network by airing her experiences.

In October, she feuded briefly with Mr Sean Hannity, saying that Mr Trump was doing interviews with him because his Fox programme was "a safe space".

Mr Hannity fired back on Twitter that she was favouring Mrs Hillary Clinton. The two later posed for a photograph over the caption, "It's complicated."

The feuding appeared to increase the chances that Ms Kelly would leave Fox after 12 years, although Fox made it clear that it intended to keep her.

Mr Rupert Murdoch, whose family controls Fox News and who stepped in as its interim chairman when Mr Ailes left, told the Wall Street Journal in autumn that money was not an obstacle in keeping her.

Despite the tumult, the network had the most successful year in its history, with profits at record levels, thanks largely to increased viewership from its election-related coverage. During the year, it ranked as the top-rated network on cable.

Since taking over a prime-time slot in 2014, Ms Kelly generally has hewed to Fox's conservative format, but has often been less ideological than Mr O'Reilly and Mr Hannity.

Her departure from Fox follows more than 15 months of verbal abuse from Mr Trump, who apparently never forgave her for her debate question about his characterisations of women.

The now President-elect had called her "very hostile and unprofessional" and a "lightweight", among other things, on Twitter and retweeted several references by others calling her a "bimbo".

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2017, with the headline 'Fox's star anchor Megyn Kelly joining NBC News'. Print Edition | Subscribe