Megyn Kelly was already finished writing her memoir, “Settle For More,” when she decided to add an entire new, painful chapter – her account of sexual harassment from her former boss and Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes.
In her first year in her “dream job” as a Fox News reporter, Kelly was told she had caught the attention of Ailes – a “good thing,” she thought, for her professional career.
That escalated into a six-month “campaign” of being called into Ailes’ office, during which she said he’d “veer in between obviously inappropriate sexual comments and legitimate professional advice,” the Fox News host told “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King during a live interview streamed on CBS News’ digital network, CBSN.
“In the beginning it was confusing and I was like, is this just him being non-PC?’” Kelly told King.
When it finally did “culminate in a physical intent to be with me,” Kelly said she declined, and he then asked when her contract was ending.
Kelly said she reported the incidents to a supervisor, who told her he was just “smitten” and advised her to avoid Ailes. Other than that, she kept silent, even after news broke last summer of her former colleague, Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, making public allegations of sexual harassment against Ailes.
“I was ambivalent because other executives have had problems with Gretchen’s performance,” Kelly said. “I do not know whether those complaints they had were based on information they were getting from Roger… so when I saw her complaint, I just wasn’t sure what to believe.”
Several more former Fox employees came forward. Then, a source told Kelly that Fox News would have a limited internal investigation that would exclude on-air personalities like Kelly, who were typically called into Ailes’ office.
Even then, Kelly remained silent. She had already “let go” of the past, she said, and proceeded to become good friends with Ailes.
But she came across a photo of her daughter, Yardley, in her phone, which changed everything.
“She was up on the monkey bars from which she had fallen a couple of weeks earlier, got stitches on her head, and she had gotten back up there. And I thought to myself, ‘This will not happen to one more woman at Fox News, ever. And I…,” an emotional Kelly paused, before finishing her sentence, “…didn’t want Yardley to have to make the same choices I did.”
With that, Kelly decided to reveal it all in a new chapter that otherwise would not have existed.
To this day, Ailes has denied all allegations against him.
In another revelation about Ailes, Kelly described his efforts to “build up his image” by pressuring employees at Fox News.
“Here at Fox, it was understood by all of us, that if you gave any interview or any PR at all, you had to compliment Roger — you had to,” Kelly said. “And if you didn’t, you would hear about it, usually directly from him,” she added.
“And actually, these days I’ve been wondering, was he putting chips in the bank for just such a moment as right now, when women like me or others came forward with the truth about his behavior so he could try to use it?”
In her memoir, Kelly also compares her experiences with Donald Trump to being “dropped into a shark tank.” He publicly attacked her on TV and Twitter after Kelly asked him a tough question about his treatment of women in a Republican primary debate. Kelly said she was on “heightened awareness” for nine months afterwards.
But Kelly does not want her experiences with Ailes and Trump to be the focus of her book.
“That’s part of the book yes, because it’s ... the arc of the story, but the nuts and bolts of the book have nothing to do with those guys,” Kelly said. “It has to do with my life, my values and I think an empowering message.”
That includes her rise from a strict household “where you’re told you’re nothing remarkable” to become one of the most influential women in TV news and now, a bestselling author. But as she reveals in the book, the journey wasn’t easy. Kelly gets deeply personal, writing about her earliest struggles of being bullied in middle school, her father’s death, and the difficult path of breaking into broadcast journalism after switching over from a law career.
Kelly offered some advice to aspiring journalists, urging them to “demand more.”
“I think one of the more core messages in the book is, ‘Work hard, and then work harder.’ If that’s what you want, if you want to succeed in your company or your industry, it’s up to you,” Kelly said. “And you’re not just going to get ahead because you’re special.... All successful people I know had that in common, that they work very hard.”