By Robert Jonathan
News broke on Friday night that NBC News and Megyn Kelly have officially parted ways, with the erstwhile Today show host reportedly exiting with the balance due on her three-year contact, totaling about $30 million. Without providing any details, NBC said in a statement that “The parties have resolved their differences, and Megyn Kelly is no longer an employee of NBC.” The network took Kelly off the air in late October after the host’s controversial Halloween blackface comments (despite her two apologies). Her lawyer and the network were negotiating the severance package ever since. The agreement reportedly contains a confidentiality clause.
NBC made the announcement in what is often called a Friday news dump (or document dump) when an organization attempts to release information below the radar.
While those Halloween comments were idiotic, they didn’t constitute the deal breaker despite NBC’s very public virtue signaling. The remarks were likely just a pretext for the network’s decision to cut loose the high-profile, high-priced star.
Megyn Kelly, 48, faced all kinds of challenges right from the jump when she attempted to switch from high-profile, hard news journalist on the Fox News Channel to daytime, lifestyle diva on NBC starting in September 2017. This included a failed Sunday evening newsmagazine show and some awkward celebrity interviews on Megyn Kelly Today, which aired at 9 a.m. Eastern time.
Megyn Kelly’s Major Miscues
- Kelly was openly critical of NBC execs at 30 Rock for how they handled the Matt Lauer sexual harassment scandal and for spiking a story about disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
- Kelly was a proponent of due process for Brett Kavanaugh during his contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings, which hardly fit within the NBC News culture or the prevailing mainstream media groupthink generally. Whether the former corporate lawyer was sincere in demanding fairness for the judge is another matter entirely.
In the final analysis, while Megyn Kelly jumped on the #MeToo bandwagon to boost soft Today ratings in her time slot, she never could be liberal enough for the liberals within and without NBC.
This is the case even in an era when the sanctimonious news media is loaded with ethically feeble and arrogant “personalities” and pundits who abruptly and shamelessly switch ideologies for a paycheck when they change TV workstations.
Added CBS News:
“In a sense, Kelly was caught in a no-woman’s land: some at NBC were suspicious of her because of the Fox News background, while her former audience at Fox resented her for tough questioning of Donald Trump on the presidential campaign trail.
“While at Fox, her accusations of unwanted sexual advances by the network’s late chief executive, Roger Ailes, helped lead to his firing.”
Observed former employer Fox News about the NBC separation:
“Because of the lofty salary, many industry insiders feel that the ‘blackface’ scandal provided NBC with an opportune excuse to dump Kelly. The former Fox News star rose to fame as a fiery prime-time host, and media watchdogs felt from the outset that she was an awkward fit on a bubbly morning show.”
Megyn Kelly and NBC Were Headed for a Breakup
In an unusually factual story, fake news CNN provided some perspective on the Megyn Kelly-NBC split:
“Talks about ending Megyn Kelly Today started before the blackface remarks, due to underperforming ratings and growing tensions between Kelly and NBC executives. But the Halloween controversy sealed her fate, according to sources familiar with the matter. Her talk show was cancelled within days, and her lawyer began negotiating the terms of her exit.
“Kelly is halfway through a three-year contract worth a total of $69 million — an eye-popping sum even by the inflated standards of television news.
“Bowing to the terms of the contract, NBC will pay Kelly the remaining sum of money, believed to total about $30 million, two of the sources said.
“Kelly will be subject to an industry standard nondisparagement clause, limiting what she can say about her time at NBC and her interactions with NBC executives. Television contracts typically include language to protect both sides in the event of an ugly breakup.
“But representatives for the host and the network declined to comment on the exact terms of her exit.
“Kelly is not believed to be subject to any ‘noncompete’ clause, which means that in theory she can join another network right away, the sources said.”
In connection with the Harvey Weinstein matter, CNN added that “By that point, there were already questions about how much longer Kelly’s 9 a.m. show would last. She had few allies inside NBC, and more than a few detractors.”
Megyn Kelly would probably love to dish about NBC. At least on the surface, the nondisparagement clause stands in the way. However, it probably won’t be long before “a friend” starts leaking some dirt to other news outlets. When the dust settles, Kelly’s first TV interview should also be nonetheless intriguing.
Meanwhile, Megyn Kelly told TMZ that she intends to be back on TV this year even though she has banked enough generational wealth to never work again. It will be interesting to see where she lands, if anywhere.
Explained The Wrap:
“Under the separation agreement, Kelly is free to seek on-air work at another outlet immediately, the insider said, adding that the agreement contains a non-disclosure clause identical to the one Kelly signed when she joined the network back in early 2017.”
Career Ambitions “Trumped” Journalism?
As alluded to above, when Megyn Kelly famously accused then-candidate Donald Trump of misogyny in the August 2015 GOP presidential debate, many felt that the interrogation was more about careerism and auditioning for a job with the mainstream media, a.k.a. stockpiling liberal street cred, than a legitimate journalistic inquiry.
The Kelly File on FNC subsequently morphed into an anti-Trump, Never Trump forum.
Recall too that that her November 2016 book tour for the Settle for More memoir was seemingly planned as an anti-Trump victory lap. Donald Trump thwarted that by winning the presidency.
Megyn Kelly had an offer on the table from FNC to stay, but spurned that to take the more “prestigious” NBC gig.
Ratings for the 9 a.m. hour of the Today franchise have spiked since Megyn Kelly left the NBC airwaves.
A registered independent, Robert Jonathan is a longtime writer/editor for viral news aggregation websites with a focus on politics and other trending topics. He earned a Juris Doctorate degree from “a law school the basketball teams can be proud of.”