Megyn Kelly to Leave Murdoch’s Fox News for NBC Daytime ShowBy
Kelly will also host Sunday night news magazine for network
Fox News’ loyal following will help network weather loss
Megyn Kelly, one of the star anchors at Rupert Murdoch’s conservative-leaning Fox News cable franchise, is making the leap to a mainstream broadcast network by joining NBC News.
Kelly will host a daytime show and a Sunday night program, Comcast Corp.’s NBC said in a statement Tuesday. She will also contribute to coverage of breaking news, special events and future elections. Financial terms of her deal weren’t disclosed, though Kelly was already one of the highest-paid TV news anchors, according to recent reports.
A former local news reporter and lawyer, Kelly elevated her national profile during the 2016 presidential election when she confronted presidential candidate Donald Trump and his surrogates, such as Newt Gingrich. On occasion, she has outdrawn fellow Fox News host Bill O’Reilly in the ratings, and the 46-year-old had been seen as key to helping the network attract younger viewers. O’Reilly’s contract also expires in the coming months.
“The challenge she faces is the same as any of the greats when they switched networks,” said Jonathan Klein, co-founder of TAPP Media and former president of U.S. operations for CNN. “You’ve got to hope you are in a welcoming environment that is stocked with top producing talent and they showcase you.”
Kelly will host “The Kelly File” through Jan. 6, Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox Inc., said in a statement.
“We thank Megyn Kelly for her 12 years of contributions to Fox News,” he said. “We hope she enjoys tremendous success in her career and wish her and her family all the best.”
Kelly has been at Fox News since 2004, starting as a contributor and reporter before earning her own show. Fox moved her into prime time in 2013, slotting her between the network’s two biggest stars: O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Her tough questions for conservative politicians evinced a desire to be less partisan than fellow prime-time hosts.
As Kelly prepared to host a prime-time special on the Fox broadcast network in May 2016, she said she saw herself more in the mold of famous TV hosts Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey than political firebrands on her own network.
In a Dec. 19 interview in the Washington Post, Kelly said she received a generous offer from Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s son and co-chairman of 21st Century Fox, and was weighing her options. She also said that wherever she lands, she wants to be home for dinner with her kids and able to see soccer games after school.
“Megyn is an exceptional journalist and news anchor, who has had an extraordinary career,” Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News, said in a statement. “She’s demonstrated tremendous skill and poise, and we’re lucky to have her.”
Away From Fox
Whether Kelly will succeed away from Fox is another matter. She’ll be stepping into a competitive environment where other big names including Meredith Viera and Katie Couric have struggled, according to Klein.
“The daytime landscape is a tough one to succeed in,” Klein said.
Fox News consistently draws the largest audience of any cable news network -- and the largest audience of any cable network last year -- thanks to a loyal cadre of viewers. Fox News is one of the most profitable parts of 21st Century Fox, which also operates a broadcast network, local stations, several cable outlets and a film studio.
“It creates opportunities throughout cable news when you have a star of that magnitude leave,” Klein said. “At the same time, the Fox lineup has always proven to be really resilient and in a lot of ways talent-proof.
The elder Murdoch stepped in to lead Fox News after the departure of co-founder Roger Ailes, who resigned after several women accused him of sexual harassment. Kelly wrote about Ailes’ behavior in her recent memoir, “Settle For More.”
Kelly, in a statement on Twitter, said she’s “delighted to be joining the NBC News family and taking on a new challenge.”
— With assistance by Gerry Smith