Megyn Kelly has decided to move to NBC News from Fox News Channel, according to a spokesperson for NBC News, setting in motion a seismic shift in the TV-news business that will leave a major gap in the primetime schedule of one of 21st Century Fox’s most important operations while sending NBCUniversal scurrying to accommodate a new set of programs built around the outsize talent.
Representatives for the popular anchor and for Fox News Channel could not be reached for immediate comment.
Under a new deal, which was announced Tuesday, Kelly will join NBC News later in 2017, and will anchor what NBC billed as “a new one hour daytime program that she will develop closely with NBC News colleagues.” The show is expected to air Monday through Friday at a time to be announced in coming months. NBC already airs four hours of “Today” each weekday and it remained unclear as to whether the network intended to use any of the time it already devotes to that morning franchise to her new show. Kelly will also anchor a new Sunday-evening newsmagazine show and contribute to NBC News’ breaking-news, political and special-events coverage.
“Over a dozen years ago I started at Fox News in a job that would change my life. Now, I have decided to end my time at FNC, incredibly enriched for the experiences I’ve had. I have agreed to join NBC News, where I will be launching a new daytime show Monday through Friday, along with a Sunday evening news magazine program. I will also participate in NBC’s breaking news coverage and its political and special events coverage,” Kelly said in a statement posted on Facebook. “While I will greatly miss my colleagues at Fox, I am delighted to be joining the NBC News family and taking on a new challenge. I remain deeply grateful to Fox News, to Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch, and especially to all of the FNC viewers, who have taught me so much about what really matters. More to come soon.”
News of the anchor’s switch was previously reported by The New York Times.
“Megyn is an exceptional journalist and news anchor, who has had an extraordinary career” said Andrew Lack, chairman of NBCUniversal News Group, in a prepared statement. “She’s demonstrated tremendous skill and poise, and we’re lucky to have her.”
Her move is likely to cause some movement at Fox News Channel, where the programming lineup rarely changes and where many anchors stay for a good portion of their careers. Kelly, who holds forth at 9 p.m., is the network’s second-highest rated anchor, falling behind only Bill O’Reilly. To be sure, the network likely has other options, and any of them would enjoy O’Reilly’s massive lead-in. But Kelly was seen as a voice of the future, appealing to a rising generation of Republicans who care more about gender and multiculturalism.
Kelly’s switch caps off a period of furious speculation about her next move. Since launching a primetime show at Fox News in 2013, Kelly has broken out as an anchor who declined to toe the party line at Fox News, where fellow anchors Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity offered a voice of resistance, so to speak, against the current Obama administration. Kelly rose to fame by questioning conservative stalwarts ranging from former Vice President Dick Cheney to Senator Rand Paul. One of her first big spotlight moments showed her traipsing from the Fox News studio in the midst of the 2012 presidential election returns to prove Karl Rove wrong when he claimed President Barack Obama had not won Ohio.
That moxie has continued to fuel her fortunes. In 2016, she struck even more of a figure after clashing during a debate with then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and after it was disclosed she provided details about sexual harassment by former Fox News chief Roger Ailes during an investigation that eventually led to his ouster. Fox News made a strong effort to keep her at the network, going so far as to offer a salary said to be worth at least $20 million a year.
NBC appears to have won her over by offering new opportunities – as well as a chance to spread her wings. Kelly earlier last year tried her had at a primetime special reminiscent of the ones led by Barbara Walters. She sat down for what were supposed to be penetrating interviews with actor Michael Douglas and Trump as well. Bill Geddie, Walters’ longtime producer, had a hand in the proceedings. But the special did not gain much traction and several executives felt it was a disappointment.
Kelly’s agents at CAA have held talks across the industry, even going to far as to entertain the notion of taking up a co-anchor slot on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” One of her chief concerns was said to be carving out time for her children, a tough feat for a primetime anchor who has to get to the studio to prepare in late afternoon and often ended up staying past midnight to handle administrative tasks and correspondence. Kelly has been on a book tour to support a recent memoir published by Harper Collins, part of Fox corporate sister News Corp.
With the new move, Kelly is poised to have a much broader platform – and new challenges to woo audiences to them.