Meygn Kelly's new morning show initially grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons, but today it's making waves for her candor about Bill O'Reilly, whose show preceded hers when the two were at Fox News. Kelly's words were sparked by O'Reilly's response to a New York Times report that said O'Reilly received a fresh contract with Fox after he reached a $32 million settlement with analyst Lis Wiehl to settle a sexual harassment claim. O'Reilly's response, through a rep, included a claim that no woman had gone to HR with a complaint about him during his 21 years with the network. Kelly firmly denounced that, per Today.com, saying, "O'Reilly's suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false. I know because I complained." Kelly left the network in January 2017; O'Reilly was fired in April. More:
- What triggered the complaint: Kelly says she sent an email to co-presidents Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy in November 2016. The email was triggered by O'Reilly's own words: Her memoir, which detailed how Fox News CEO Roger Ailes harassed her, came out that morning, and when asked about the book while on CBS News, he said, in part, "I'm not interested in making my network look bad at all. That doesn't interest me one bit."
- The email: It read in part, "Perhaps it's his own history of harassment with 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'm just so sorry for the women of this company who never should've had to go through that.'''
- Unsatisfying resolution: Kelly says Shine told her he would "deal with it," but she says that very night, O'Reilly went on his show with the network's blessing and denigrated sexual harassment victims, saying "If somebody is paying you a wage, you owe that person or company allegiance."
- Another name: The Washington Post notes Kelly also called out another Fox News honcho, PR head Irena Briganti. "At Fox News, the media relations chief Irena Briganti is known for her vindictiveness. To this day she pushes negative articles on certain Ailes accusers, like the one you are looking at right now." The network's response to that point: "Irena is a valued colleague and she has our full support."
- Fighting words: The New York Times notes that Kelly is pushing a "sunnier" version of herself on the show, but her Monday comments placed the former lawyer's "prosecutorial streak" front and center. Regarding the $32 million, she said, "OJ Simpson was ordered to pay the Goldman and Brown families $33.5 million for the murders of Ron and Nicole. What on earth would justify that amount? What awfulness went on?"
- The thank-you notes: The Post reports an O'Reilly rep responded to Kelly's segment by releasing two handwritten thank yous Kelly sent O’Reilly. The first is regarding her baby shower; the second is a thanks for a plug O'Reilly gave her husband's book. Two lines: "What a class act you are. You’ve become a dear friend and I am grateful to have you in my life."
- One assessment: New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik tweeted, "This is strong, and having Kelly get serious about things she’s passionate about would be a much better direction for the show."
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