Megyn Kelly’s jump to NBC was easy to predict


While Megyn Kelly’s departure from Fox News to NBC News came as a surprise to basically everyone in the media business outside of a few executive offices at 30 Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, her departure isn’t as surprising if you’ve read her memoir, “Settle for More.” 

{mosads}Here’s why: Family is absolutely first and foremost to the 46-year-old mother of three young children. Career and money are a decidedly distant second and third. That may sound corny, but it’s impossible to deny after absorbing the book.


“Settle for More” is a compelling read that unfortunately received attention mostly for four (of 28) chapters focusing on Kelly’s tumultuous relationship with Donald Trump and her allegations of unwanted advances from Roger Ailes, the now-former chairman and CEO of Fox News. But the rest of what’s written has one unmistakable theme: Settling for more has little to do with money and everything to do with personal happiness and family.

To that point, a key part of Kelly’s life came in 2003-04: At the time, she was a well-paid attorney at a respected law firm working 18-hour days and basically miserable in the process. She barely saw her husband at the time (Daniel Kendall), who was a doctor just out of medical school working his way up while putting in exhausting hours. Speaking as someone who is also married to a doctor, I find it easy to empathize.

So in an effort to be happy again with her career, she starts freelancing for a local TV station while still working a lawyer. After catching on relatively quickly, a few people in the right places notice her, she gets a break, and before she knows it, she’s meeting with Ailes in New York for a job she would ultimately get with Fox News. Years later, she would become the highest-rated woman in cable news and the most-watched of anyone outside of Bill O’Reilly.

Few people take that kind of chance after enduring law school and eventually getting paid well as a reward, but she made the decision to jump to television regardless of a safer option because her occupation at the time wasn’t personally fulfilling.

Fast forward years later after getting re-married and having three children, and Kelly is again unhappy with her current state as it pertains to career and family. But not so much because Donald Trump is picking fights with her on Twitter or because she’s seen by some of her co-workers as disloyal for speaking to internal investigators about Roger Ailes.

Those were factors, of course, but ultimately she didn’t like her situation at Fox because — more than anything else in my view — of her time-slot: The 9:00 pm EDT “Kelly File” prevented her from being with her kids when they get home from school, eat dinner, do homework, and go to bed. As a parent of young children with a weird schedule at times myself, I again can empathize with her situation.

For Kelly, the whole thing was viewed as unsustainable. But she worked too hard to simply punt and be a stay-at-home Mom. The term is called work-life balance for a reason.

Enter NBC News.

Its chairman, Andy Lack, gives Kelly exactly what she wanted. And again, we’re not necessarily talking money, although it can be assumed Kelly and family will be quite comfortable for the foreseeable future even if NBC didn’t match the $20 million on the table Fox News had generously offered.

Instead, it’s an afternoon time slot for a “news and discussion” program likely on broadcast NBC (MSNBC wasn’t mentioned in the official NBC announcement) and a Sunday evening magazine show, also on NBC. She’ll also get to work big events such as moderating or co-moderating one of NBC’s 2019-2020 presidential debates and being part of the network’s Election Night coverage.

The Peacock scenario also gets Kelly out of cable news and the grind that goes along with it, and into a more relatively comfortable setting for her at this stage of her career and family life. Barring big events, she’ll be home every day when the kids leave early for school and home almost all early evenings as well.

That — if you read the book cover to cover — was and is priority #1.

Another scenario that involved Kelly going to CNN always seemed, on paper, like the most logical one to play out. But she would again have to do primetime — where I think she doesn’t want to be anymore — and likely for much less money.

Note: Anderson Cooper is CNN’s highest-paid anchor at a reported $10-12 million. Nobody else at the network makes more than $3 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

To earn half of the Fox offer of $20 million and still not see her kids at night would have had her back at square one and making less money for it.

“Change is the only constant in life,” wrote the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. The sentiment certainly applies to broadcast news as well.

“Megyn Kelly, NBC News.”

Almost everyone in this business didn’t see the last part of that sentence coming. 

But after reading “Settle for More,” the jump in retrospect makes all the sense in the world. 

Joe Concha is a media reporter for The Hill.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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