Megyn Kelly on the Leak That Sealed Roger Ailes’ Fate: ‘I Was Livid’

And the one Trump she's spoken to since the election

The week of Nov. 14 has been a blur. Megyn Kelly has sat for nine TV interviews in three days before doing this one. There were appearances on Dr. Oz and Jimmy Fallon, too. Kelly is publicizing her new memoir, Settle for More, about life before and after becoming the undisputed (and unintentional) media star of the 2016 election. In her book, which debuts at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list, Kelly recounts her 9 months at the wrong end of Donald Trump's temperament and Twitter account and how, with simple and agonizing truth, she helped to bring down one of the biggest names in TV news—her Fox News Channel boss Roger Ailes. Through it all, the mother of three has continued to host the network's The Kelly File, the most-watched cable news show in the 25-54 demo in Q3, and again in October. Here, Kelly—Adweek's Hottest News Anchor of 2016—talks about her surreal year.

Adweek: Have you talked with President-elect Trump since the election?
Megyn Kelly: Not at all. No.

How about his family? I suspect you've put in an interview request?
I've corresponded with Ivanka. I'm going to assume that I won't be the very first that he would sit down with after Lesley Stahl, but I actually think he will sit with me.  I just want to give him some time.

Would you ever consider joining the Trump administration?
No. No, I think first of all that's a younger person's game. But second of all I don't need that kind of aggravation in my life, and I have a great job that I don't want to give up.

You're in the midst of a contract negotiation and Rupert Murdoch very much wants you to stay. Are you leaning towards staying at this point?
You know, I'm seriously considering my future and I do feel very grateful that I have a spot at Fox News. I really have respect for the Murdochs. I haven't known them very well but I've come to know them and so far I like everything I've seen. So the thought of working for them is very alluring. But I have to figure this one out and give it all the consideration it deserves because I've got these three little people with me who I really love and want to see as well. This is a big one for me and I don't want to screw it up.

You came up through the news ranks and earned that prime time spot but you're sandwiched in between two opinion shows. Is that a comfortable time slot to be in?
As far as the ratings go it's been a great time slot. I have the best lead in in the business (O'Reilly Factor) and I have a successful show on after me (Hannity). For me as a journalist it's okay. I think people understand the difference.

Have you talked with Bill O'Reilly about how he wasn't interested in talking about a book that made his company look bad and then you responded that it was Roger Ailes that made Fox News look bad. And what's the office relationship like with him?
I never see Bill.  He tapes his show early in the day and I'm live on the air at nine.  So I never see him.

Co-hosting Live with Kelly the day after the election you helped give the show its best ratings in six months, and that was after an hour of sleep. If you stayed at Fox they do a lot of syndication. There could be a situation where you keep the prime time show and do something in daytime as well.
That's an interesting idea. I enjoyed that. I love Kelly first of all. She could not have been kinder or more welcoming or just more fun to be with. And it's always fun to try something new. So I guess I would consider anything, but it's not like I'm looking to go co-host with Kelly. I don't think they can afford the both of us.

Let's talk about Roger Ailes. After Gretchen Carlson filed her sexual harassment lawsuit against him, you write about that moment that made you pick up the phone to call Lachlan Murdoch and tell him how Ailes harassed you, all of which Ailes continues to deny.
There's no question that I was in a position where I had to choose between my ethics and my loyalty to Roger. And it was clear. The choice was clear. [When the harassment happened first in 2005] I really felt like my career was on the line and I knew I would never compromise myself.  So I was very worried that my job was going to go away. The situation is so tricky to navigate. I feel for the women out there who are dealing with it right now.

If he had made it through the investigation and kept his job, do you think you would have been more inclined to go somewhere else?
If it had just been Gretchen's lawsuit and nobody else came forward and Fox exonerated him that might have been a different story. When I saw Gretchen's lawsuit it wasn't like I said 'ah, yes, this is who he is!' It was when I saw The Daily Beast later that day, quoting three anonymous former Fox News employees. And as soon as I read that I knew. I just knew he had never stopped. Let's just say I'm glad it didn't work out that way because to me it was very clear when I read those reports that mine was not the only story.

And then on the second night of the RNC, it's leaked that you had talked to the outside investigators which was really the end of Roger Ailes at Fox. How did that feel?
I was livid. I was livid. I don't know to this day who leaked that. That was my private information that I shared with my company for the good of the women at my company.

If a young woman came up to you and said 'I've been sexually harassed' would you tell that woman to immediately go to their superiors after what had happened to you?
Having lived it I understand the reality of the situation, it depends on the circumstances.  If you're in a situation like mine where the person harassing you has complete control over the organization then you need to understand the risks of that. What needs to be emphasized right now is not the duties of the victims. What needs to be emphasized is the duties of management to create a safe workspace and create safe and meaningful off ramps for these women if they want to report.

And has Fox gotten that message? Is it better now?
I think so. They have assured me that they are going to bring somebody in who will be that safe place. And I take them at their word.

You write very lovingly about your dad who passed away when you were a sophomore in high school. You also write that yours was not a family that gave out participation trophies. What would he say about all that you've accomplished?
I think he'd be so proud of me. He always looked at me through the most generous lens. And I don't think my dad would give two figs about me being a public figure or me being on any red carpet. But I think he'd be proud that I'm a good mom and that I created a career for myself that I've managed to find a way to maintain both of those things pretty happily.  And at least as I said as happily as an Irish Catholic who lives in New York can do.

Check out the rest of this year's Hot List honorees:

Hottest Magazines
Media Visionary: Jeff Bezos
Magazine Executive Team: Hearst's David Carey and Michael Clinton
Magazine Editor: New York's Adam Moss
Hottest TV Shows and Networks
TV Executive: FX's John Landgraf
TV Creator: Full Frontal's Samantha Bee
Hottest Digital Brands and Products
Digital Executive: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg
Digital Creator: Casey Neistat

This story first appeared in the November 28, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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