NBC has reportedly agreed to write a huge severance check to Megyn Kelly, but the sticking point between the TV network and her lawyer in the deal involves negotiations over a non-disclosure clause or confidentiality agreement.
Kelly probably would love to dish in public on her behind-the-scenes experiences with the Today show franchise after the paperwork is signed in the same way that her book tour for Settle for More was seemingly planned an anti-Trump victory lap. Donald Trump thwarted that by winning the presidency.
It remains to be seen if NBC will impose what might amount to a gag order on her in exchange for the lucrative contract settlement.
Various news outlets claim that the network has already agreed to a $30 million payout to the former host of the now-cancelled Megyn Kelly Today, but the fine print is still in play.
— Page Six (@PageSix) November 20, 2018
Kelly, who went from hard news journalist on the Fox News Channel to daytime diva on NBC starting in September 2017, originally signed a three-year, nearly $70 million contract with the latter network’s news division.
Megyn Kelly is settling for a lot more than one would expect
Usually a buyout is discounted on a lump-sum basis. Megyn Kelly may take an early departure from broadcast television with her entire contract price, however, if new reports are accurate.
Although her foray into the mainstream media was a failure, as some media industry observers predicted, Megyn Kelly and her family will be independently wealthy for generations as a result of a very golden parachute.
From Deadline Hollywood yesterday:
“Despite a flurry of speculation in the last few hours from certain outlets connected corporately to Kelly’s former home Fox News Channel that this is all but over, Deadline has learned that hopes for a tidy and buried Thanksgiving resolution are not quite fair and balanced, to put it mildly…For the most part, it seems the money aspect of Kelly’s approximately three-year, $69 million contract has been settled, with both sides comfortable with the payout outcome and sum.
“However, among a checklist of other matters that remain, a primary stumbling block to wrapping Kelly’s complete departure from NBC seems to be determining specific language agreed to by all parties for the non-disparagement clause. A flow of paperwork and potential propositions have traveled from Kelly’s attorney Bryan Freedman and NBC over the past several weeks with no phrasing acceptable to all…”
As Fox News similarly added, “‘Language on a mutual non-disparagement agreement is tricky,’ a source close to Kelly told Fox News, adding that things would ‘probably’ wrap up shortly.”
“We were a baseball team and we signed a free-agent running back,” said one senior NBC News executive about Megyn Kelly, the Wall Street Journal claimed.
According to the Page Six gossip section of the New York Post, “One senior TV source added: ‘NBC decided rather than fight and face a lawsuit from her, they — and more importantly, Comcast with all its money — decided to draw a line under the entire debacle and pay Megyn the full amount owed in her contract to go away.’”
A convenient exit strategy?
For NBC, Megyn Kelly’s racially charged Halloween blackface gaffe was the last straw. But as foolish and inaccurate as her comment was, it was probably a just a pretext for the network’s decision to cut the high-profile, high-priced star loose. The ratings for the 9 a.m. Eastern time hour of the Today show franchise were soft, even though they improved somewhat after the host jumped on the #MeToo bandwagon.
Moreover, Kelly was a proponent of due process for Justice Brett Kavanaughduring his contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings, which hardly fit within the NBC News culture or the prevailing mainstream media groupthink generally.
Cynics might say that Kelly knew that the handwriting was on the hall at NBC News, so the former corporate lawyer decided to spruce-up her quasi conservative bona fides after burning them as host of FNC’s The Kelly File.
That said, the sanctimonious news media is loaded with “personalities” who abruptly switch ideologies when they change workstations.
Kelly also criticized NBC in the way it handled the Matt Lauer sexual harassment scandal which could not have pleased execs at 30 Rock.
“Her morning program never seemed able to strike quite the right balance between hard and soft news, and Ms. Kelly struggled to adapt to interviewing celebrities. A public spat with Jane Fonda, whom Ms. Kelly asked on-air about plastic surgery, made booking other big-name talent a challenge,” the WSJ noted about Megyn’s rocky day-part tenure.
Kelly’s Sunday night news magazine on NBC also tanked in the ratings.
Megyn Kelly lacked a fan base on within and without NBC
As this blog has noted previously, Megyn Kelly never had a TV constituency in a her attempt to reinvent herself along the lines of a liberal, lifestyle host.
Recall that when Megyn Kelly famously accused then-candidate Donald Trump of misogyny in the famous 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. liberal street cred, than a legitimate journalistic inquiry. The Kelly File subsequent became an anti-Trump, Never Trump forum.
As a Fox News commenter observed, “The liberals wouldn’t accept her and the conservatives rejected her.”
“NBC’s $69 million bet on Ms. Kelly was troubled from the beginning, with some of her NBC colleagues chafing at her on-air manner, lofty salary and the high cost of producing her show,” the WSJ noted.
Her NBC colleagues were hardly shy about condemning her for the blackface remark, for which she apologized twice, which suggests that they had the go-ahead to do so from NBC execs.
Today show ratings in the 9 a.m. time slot have picked up considerably after Megyn Kelly’s departure.