Roger Ailes always thinks big, and he believes Fox News–already the dominant force in cable news–will keep on growing. “You’re going to see over the next 10 years, this thing is going to grow even bigger,” Ailes tells The New York Times. The key, Ailes believes, may be Megyn Kelly, who Ailes predicts could soon eclipse even Fox News titan Bill O’Reilly. “We’ve been on the air for 18 years. She shows up, and in one year goes to No. 2 and close to No. 1. That is an astounding accomplishment. Before this is over, she may be bigger than anybody.”
In the profile of Kelly for Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, Jim Rutenberg explains that while Fox has cornered the market on “consistently conservative” viewers, Kelly’s appeal fits perfectly into a growth market for Fox: viewers who are “ideologically mixed.” Reaching those viewers–and converting them–involves presenting a personality that transcends politics. Megyn Kelly, Ailes believes, is that person–the first Fox News host to outperform O’Reilly among viewers 25-54, which she did in November during coverage of Ferguson.
And it wasn’t just Ailes who saw Kelly’s potential. Former CNN president Jonathan Klein told Rutenberg one of his big regrets that he did not sign Kelly. “If you’d have asked me who was the one talent you’d want to have from somewhere else, from another network, I would have said — and did — Megyn Kelly.”
The story describes ABC’s Robin Roberts as whispering in Kelly’s ear at a public event, “I get you.”
But Roger Ailes has got her, and likely won’t be interested in letting go. “They used to laugh at us in the mainstream media,” Ailes told the Times, “but we’re becoming the place most people go to get the truth.”