Former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly issued a direct response to her onetime colleague Bill O’Reilly on her new NBC morning show Monday. Kelly was responding to O’Reilly’s dressing down of another New York Times bombshell that dropped over the weekend and revealed that the former Fox News host, who was the network’s top-rated on-air personality at the time, reached a $32 million settlement with a female Fox News on-air personality over sexual harassment allegations she had leveled against O’Reilly.
The report said O’Reilly settled with Lis Wiehl, a 15-year veteran of the network who often appeared on O’Reilly’s show, in January while the powerful host was in the midst of contract negotiations with Fox News. The next month he was awarded a new $25 million-a-year contract, his value to the company increasing with the exit of Megyn Kelly, who had risen to stardom on Fox News, but bolted for NBC. By mid-April, O’Reilly had been pushed out of Fox News amid advertiser boycotts following a New York Times report exposing that O’Reilly had settled with several women over the years who have made similar accusations.
O’Reilly has dismissed the report as “lies and smears” and “crap.” On her show Monday, Kelly spoke out in forceful terms about O’Reilly’s claim that no women colleagues of his, in 20 years, complained about his behavior to Fox News human resources or the legal department.
“Maybe that is true,” Kelly surmised. “Fox News was not exactly a friendly environment for harassment victims who wanted to report, in my experience. However, O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about O’Reilly’s behavior is false. I know because I complained,” Kelly declared.
She then went on to tell the story of that complaint, which was lodged the day her memoir was released last November. O’Reilly had appeared on CBS News and deflected questions from morning show hosts about the Roger Ailes sexual harassment case that led to the longtime executive’s ouster from the company, which was the subject of a chapter in Kelly’s book. Kelly played a clip of an incredulous O’Reilly insisting “I’m not that interested in this” after being asked to comment on Ailes and Kelly’s book. She then disclosed for the first time an email she sent to Fox News management that day, criticizing O’Reilly for sending a message to young women in America that if they speak out about sexual harassment, they will be shamed and silenced.
She said that despite her email company management gave their blessing to O’Reilly going on his show that night and he again attacked the women who’d spoken out about the alleged harassment. She played a clip from O’Reilly’s show in which is said, “If you don’t like what’s happening in the workplace, go to human resources — or leave! I’ve done that.”
Kelly then criticized Fox News P.R. chief Irena Briganti, who she said aided and abetted the culture of fear at the network with “her vindictiveness” demonstrated by her pushing of negative news stories about those who dared to level accusations. Kelly said she was a subject Briganti’s retribution.
“This. Must. Stop. The abuse of women, the shaming of them, the threatening, the retaliation. The silencing of them after the fact,” Kelly said. Watch her complete video message below.