Megyn Kelly, NBC News anchor and host of “Megyn Kelly Today,” said that she wasn’t aware that Matt Lauer was about to be fired. Lauer, longtime host of “Today” and a new colleague of Kelly’s after she joined the network this year, was terminated Wednesday by NBC News, which cited evidence of his “inappropriate sexual behavior.”
“I had heard rumors about Matt, but that’s all,” Kelly said, speaking at Business Insider’s Ignition 2017 media conference Wednesday in New York. She added, “I hear a lot of rumors about myself that aren’t true.”
Kelly, a former Fox News Channel anchor, vividly described the sexual harassment of her by Roger Ailes. The ex-boss of Fox News, she said, made explicit quid-pro-quo overtures of career advancement in return for sex. Ailes was fired by 21st Century Fox last year over harassment charges by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson and several other women, and he died earlier this year.
“It culminated with him being with me physically,” Kelly recalled. “He tried to grab me three times… The third time, he asked me when my contract was up.”
At the time, Kelly said, she said it was pointless to bring her harassment claims to HR at Fox News, because the organization “was controlled by the CEO, Ailes, who was my harasser.”
She said companies are “bleeding awesome talent” because they are failing to address sexual harassment in the workplace, but sees a bright spot in women coming forward to publicly challenge men who are abusing their positions of power. “I don’t want to say the culture has changed, but it is changing,” she said, “We never would have thought Roger Ailes would be fired by Fox News, never.”
Regarding the ratings of her NBC show, Kelly said that “NBC has put zero pressure on me,” saying her show is “like a 9-week-old baby” that is still finding its voice. “Megyn Kelly Today” airs at 9 a.m. weekdays, after the two-hour “Today” show.
Kelly was interviewed by BI U.S. editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell, who asked her about Donald Trump’s repugnant comment after a presidential debate in 2015 she moderated, when he said of Kelly, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her whatever.” Trump’s lawyer had subsequently retweeted a comment saying “let’s gut her.”
“I never was cowed by [Trump],” she said, even though according to Kelly security threats against her and her children shot up after she earned the animosity of Trump. “I call it attempted bullying – because effective bullying causes a change in behavior.”
Kelly said it’s a “sexist meme” to assume that if a woman asks hard-hitting questions, that represents the entirety of her personality. “Just because you have sharp elbows doesn’t mean you can’t be soft,” she said. “That’s not true of me, or any woman I know — or man, for that matter.”