Megyn Kelly’s Move Means Big Changes
They say that a reporter should not become part of the story. But there are times when a reporter is the story. Usually, that’s when a reporter challenges a public official, such as when Dan Rather clashed with Richard Nixon in the 1970s. This year, one of the big stories is that Megyn Kelly has left Fox News to go to NBC, according to the Daily Caller.
The Fox News star will host a daytime news show and anchor a Sunday night show, as well as regularly take part in breaking news and special event coverage at the network, the network announced in a statement Tuesday. The amount she was offered to move to NBC has not been disclosed. . .
One person briefed on Kelly’s discussions with NBC told The New York Times the network chairman, Andrew Lack, won her over by starting negotiations with an open-ended question about what she was seeking rather than immediately making some kind of offer. The resulting offer was tailored accordingly, offering for example, a daytime slot that would allow her to have dinner with her husband and see her kids off to school.
The Daily Caller didn’t have a figure for Kelly’s contract, but MediaIte says she turned down $100 million from Fox, to stay.
Mediaite has learned that Fox News offered Megyn Kelly even more than has generally been reported, a whopping $100 million package to stay put at the network and continue hosting her highly-rated prime time cable news show. A source close to Kelly says the offer, which included $25 million per year for four years, came directly from Lachlan Murdoch, Executive Co-Chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox. . . In fact, the Fox offer is far higher financially than the one she ultimately accepted from NBC.
Variety says NBC is taking a big gamble.
Launching a new, sustainable newsmagazine has also been tricky in recent years, as NBC learned when it debuted “Rock Center” with Brian Williams in 2011. That effort also lasted two seasons before being cancelled due to low ratings. NBC more recently tried “On Assignment,” an effort produced by its “Dateline” staff that relies more heavily on stories of adventure and innovation than on the murder tales viewers have come to expect from the parent show.
Simply put, NBC and Kelly will join forces to counter prevailing viewership trends. More people are getting their headlines from social-media outlets and mobile devices. Sixty-two percent of U.S. adults overall say they get news on social media sites, according to a 2016 study by Pew Research Center. Those figures don’t mean consumers don’t turn to TV for information, but make it clear news aficionados have other places upon which to rely.
Meanwhile, Politico says Kelly is the one taking the big risk.
Television talent raids—like the one NBC News chairman Andrew Lack has just pulled off—are almost never a simple matter of improving your own roster. As the history of broadcasting shows us, a single major defection by a popular anchor rarely improves that acquiring network’s ratings or public appeal. The primary aim of such larceny: Weaken your TV opponent’s line-up by making off with one of their visible stars. Anything else accomplished is just gravy.
An early example of the TV talent-poaching game came in 1976, when third-place ABC News hired Barbara Walters away from NBC, where she anchored the Today show. . . The plan worked. By 1978, the Good Morning America’s audience had surged, tying Today in some markets, making the second-place program very profitable. . . Walters, however, failed as a nightly news co-anchor, a job for which she proved unsuited.
History sorta repeated itself in 2006, when CBS News lured Katie Couric from her co-anchor slot at Today, paying her $15 million to anchor The CBS Evening News. Couric wasn’t part of a grand morning-TV chess game like Walters, but she bombed just the same, leaving CBS in 2011.
One lesson Walters and Couric—and the other high-profile network defectors (Harry Reasoner, Diane Sawyer, Roger Mudd, et al.)—teach is of the non-transferability of TV starpower. TV stars struggle to survive outside of the context in which they were nurtured. . .
Megyn Kelly’s shift from Fox to NBC fits smoothly into the Walters pattern. . . I can’t believe Barbara Walters didn’t talk her out of this move.
Fortune Magazine reports that the decision wasn’t about money. It was more that Kelly wanted a schedule that would allow her to get her kids off to school and also have dinner with her husband.
But it’s more than that. The new less-generous monetary deal, moves her to the larger broadcast audience, but more importantly, will give her a freer hand.
The decision to leave Fox News was not money-driven, according to the person close to Kelly. Rather, it was made to “expand her professional and creative abilities,” the person added. “She has creative instincts and she wanted to stretch her wings a little bit.” The real key to Kelly’s decision, according to this person, was that NBC came to her with a blank slate, and asked her what she would like to do. “Everyone else came to her with an idea of what they wanted,” this person said. “NBC really wanted to hear what she wanted to do, and then they delivered it.”
So what about Fox? The Wall Street Journal reported that Tucker Carlson will inherit the 9 pm slot, with a lead-in from Bill O’Reilly.
Fox News tapped veteran journalist and commentator Tucker Carlson to replace Megyn Kelly in one of its most prominent time slots, underscoring that the cable news network has no intention of moving away from its conservative roots.
This may be a sign that Rupert Murdoch is planning to turn the network into “Trump TV.”
Rupert Murdoch moved swiftly and unexpectedly to fill the void opened up by Megyn Kelly’s departure for NBC. Thursday morning, Fox News announced Tucker Carlson is taking over Kelly’s 9 p.m. slot. Carlson’s ascension to prime time is significant in several ways, the most crucial being this: It’s another sign that Murdoch is pushing Fox News in a more pro-Trump direction.
Carlson’s promotion stunned many inside Fox, according to sources. In the hours after Kelly announced Tuesday morning that she was leaving for NBC, senior Fox executives were led to believe the network would take time to fill her slot. “There will be a lot of experimenting,” one insider told me yesterday. The leading internal candidates were thought to be women. Since Fox’s launch, in 1996, a female anchor has held a prime-time position.
This is bad news for Rupert’s sons. After the Roger Ailes scandal last summer, there was an expectation that Rupert’s sons would work to move Fox News away from its geriatric programming, more toward their other property, Sky News.
The two sons of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch have long harbored deep cultural and personal differences with Roger Ailes, the man who has shaped the right-wing Fox News that has cranked out profits for the Murdoch empire since the network’s inception two decades ago.
Now, less than two years after Rupert ceded more authority to sons Lachlan and James, those differences loom large as the pair is poised to oust the longtime Fox News chief executive amid allegations of sexual harassment. . .
“The Murdoch sons, Lachlan and James, it’s been a long-held goal of theirs to remove Ailes from Fox News,” said Gabe Sherman, an editor at New York magazine and the author of a biography of Roger Ailes. “But they’ve been unable to do it because their father has consistently sided with him over their wishes.”. . .
It is not clear whether the Murdoch brothers will put a new imprint on Fox News. But some of their views appear to contrast sharply with common themes hit by the network’s personalities. . .
James has long had an interest in global warming and measures needed to stop it. He sought to make BSkyB, one part of Murdoch’s European operations, carbon-neutral. And his wife, Kathryn, sits on the board of the Environmental Defense Fund; she is also president of the Quadrivium Foundation, which focuses on natural resources, “civic life, childhood health and equal opportunity.”
For now, it appears that father Rupert is calling the shots. Of course, at 85, he’s slightly older than the typical Fox News viewer. When he passes, it’s likely that Fox’s strident viewpoint will, as well.