On Monday, Megyn Kelly railed against Bill O’Reilly, a former Fox News host who was forced out of the network in April after the disclosure of a series of sexual harassment allegations against him.
Kelly went after O’Reilly and her former bosses and colleagues, accusing the network of fostering a toxic culture for its female employees.
Kelly was speaking out following a report by the New York Times that O’Reilly had paid Lis Wiehl, a longtime legal analyst at Fox, $32 million to settle harassment allegations spanning 18 years. Despite knowledge of a settlement with Wiehl, Fox renewed its contract with O’Reilly in February, paying him $25 million per year over four years, the paper said.
On “Megyn Kelly Today,” the host detailed an email she sent to Fox’s co-presidents, Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy, to object to O’Reilly’s comments during a CBS News interview. O’Reilly said at the time that he wasn’t “interested” in discussing a topic — sexual harassment — that “makes my network look bad.”
In response, Kelly wrote an email to her bosses, which she shared on her show:
“Perhaps he didn’t realize his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment on grounds that it will disgrace the company is in part how Fox News got into the decade-long [Roger] Ailes mess to begin with. Perhaps it’s his own history of harassment of women which has, as you both know, resulted in payouts to more than one woman, including recently, that blinded him to the folly of saying anything other than, ‘I am just so sorry for the women of this company, who never should have had to go through that.’ ”
Kelly said the response was that O’Reilly was “permitted with management’s advance notice and blessing” to appear on his program that night “to attack the company’s harassment victims yet again.”
She also took a shot at Fox News’s chief media relations officer, Irena Briganti.
Briganti “is known for her vindictiveness,” Kelly said. “To this day, she pushes negative articles on certain Ailes accusers like the one you’re looking at right now,” meaning Kelly herself.
Briganti had no comment Monday. Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, released a statement saying it “has taken concerted action to transform Fox News.”
“Irena is a valued colleague and she has our full support,” the company said.
Kelly’s comments were her first about Fox since she began her NBC program, which has struggled in the ratings. They were largely out of character for the upbeat tone she said she wanted to set.
Kelly privately lodged a harassment complaint about Ailes while at Fox, and she has gone public about harassment at Fox before, most notably in her book “Settle for More.”
In response to Kelly, O’Reilly’s spokesman, Mark Fabiani, released two handwritten notes from Kelly to O’Reilly. The first is a note thanking him for his presence at her baby shower in 2009.
The second note — which Kelly’s office said is from 2012 — thanks O’Reilly for mentioning the latest book by her husband, Doug Brunt, on his program: