NBCUniversal chief executive Steve Burke is accepting blame for the failed Megyn Kelly experiment.
“News organizations like ours should take risks,” Burke told Variety, who added that the decision to hire Kelly away from Fox News in January 2017, was his call. “I went over and told (Kelly) she should come here,” Burke recalled. “Megyn Kelly was a huge talent. She was at the wrong time of day (on NBC). In hindsight we shouldn’t have done it. But it wasn’t Andy going off rogue,” he added.
Kelly and NBC officially parted ways on Friday evening, with the high-profile TV newser getting the remaining $25-30 million from that three-year, $69 million contract she signed to join NBC News in early 2017.
It wasn’t a smooth 2018 for NBC News, which, in addition to the Kelly fiasco, had to deal with fallout from the firing of Matt Lauer in November 2017, which took place after a detailed complaint of inappropriate sexual harassment. There was also the case of former NBC Newser Ronan Farrow, whose lead producer said back in August that NBC News blocked their investigative reporting into Harvey Weinstein.
Nevertheless, Burke defended Lack, and said he hopes NBC News president Noah Oppenheim, will eventually succeed Lack.
“I’m 100 percent behind Andy,” Burke told Variety. “When the drumbeat began of ‘You gotta fire this guy’ — a lot of that was really unfair. Matt Lauer was a grenade that we didn’t know was a grenade. I was here seven years and I thought Matt Lauer was the greatest interviewer in news.”
Despite the controversies, Burke emphasized the quality of NBC News’ work and expressed great confidence in the current leadership team.
“I still have full faith in (Lack), and Noah is extraordinary. He’s going to end up running NBC News after Andy retires.” Burke said. “He’s really good.”