Kelly’s multi-year contract will also have her anchoring a new Sunday evening magazine show as well as playing a prominent role in breaking news and political coverage.
“Megyn Kelly is an exceptional journalist and news anchor, who has had an extraordinary career,” NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said in a statement. “She’s demonstrated tremendous skill and poise, and we’re lucky to have her.”
Financial details were not revealed. But I don’t care what the network is paying, this is one of the smartest moves NBC News has made since it replaced David Gregory with Chuck Todd at “Meet the Press.” And that was a minor move compared to the upside this one has in terms of potential daytime and prime-time revenue if Lack and Kelly can find a winning format for her.
And it appears from that statement, that Lack understands the one things that is most important to Kelly at this point in her career: She wants to be taken seriously above all as a journalist.
I believe she has earned that kind of respect from the character she showed during the 2016 election where she took on Trump over his sexist remarks before anyone else. And then, she never flinched as Trump threw everything he had at her while Fox News offered only lip-service support.
The biggest immediate story is the way Kelly’s loss threatens the dominance Fox News has enjoyed for years in prime time. Her loss during the 9 p.m. hour could be monumental.
The channel still has Bill O’Reilly at 8 p.m., but he is clearly on the downside of his career. And while Sean Hannity, the 10 p.m. host, looks to be plugged into Donald Trump’s White House in ways that other cable shows hosts aren’t, Hannity is still a party hack and propagandist who will never have the kind of broad-based appeal and respect Kelly brought to Fox.
More than respect, Kelly brought energy to a lineup top-heavy with older, angry, highly partisan men. Make no mistake about it, her loss is a game-changer for Fox.
And, by the way, the Murdoch sons who are now running Fox can thank their father, Rupert, in large part for the loss as a result of the way he gave free rein to Roger Ailes, who is alleged to have sexually harassed Kelly and other women, according to lawsuits and statements from the women.
Fox News appears to have done almost nothing to root out the culture of sexual harassment that took hold during Ailes tenure. Now it pays for those sins.
It will be worth watching to see how Fox handles the news of the departure of its biggest star. Kelly's contract, which has been estimated at $15 million a year, extends for several more months.
Will she remain through the full term or leave now that she is an emblem of the declining fortunes of Fox News?
Kelly said her other goal was to spend more time with her family. In the short term, that looks like it will be possible. But if she has a daily show and a Sunday night prime-time magazine, she is still going to be very busy. Kelly has, though, an ability to surround herself with good producers, and that can help a lot.
And as talented as she is, success is not guaranteed. Katie Couric signed a bombshell deal with CBS News, which I remember reporting with almost as much enthusiasm as this. But it has been all downhill since for Couric's career since.