Megyn Kelly, the former host of Fox News’ “The Kelly File” (2013-17), is one of several women who have accused former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment during her tenure at the network. Along with former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, Kelly’s allegations against Ailes are portrayed in the recent film “Bombshell” (2019), with Charlize Theron playing Kelly and Nicole Kidman as Carlson.
In a video published on her YouTube page on Thursday, Kelly captures her response to watching the film along with some of the other women who have come forward with accusations against the late-media mogul — talk show host Juliet Huddy, reporter Rudi Bakhtiar, and producer Julie Zann. The video includes a raw and often emotional discussion among the women about the alleged sexual harassment they each experienced at the hands of Ailes.
At one moment in the discussion, Kelly discusses a particularly demeaning incident in which Ailes asked her to “twirl” for him in his office — a request each of them experienced in some form, some complying and others refusing. Zann, who says she was unwittingly selected to be a “replacement” girl for Ailes, also describes the CEO allegedly spreading his legs and trying to pressure her to perform oral sex on him, which she refused to do.
“The movie ‘Bombshell’ is a Hollywood film about the sexual harassment scandal at Fox News,” Kelly wrote in a tweet that includes the 30-minute video. “I have no connection to the film, and hold no stake at all in it. I do, however, have a connection to many of the women who actually lived it. Here is their account.”
The movie “Bombshell” is a Hollywood film about the sexual harassment scandal at Fox News. I have no connection to the film, and hold no stake at all in it. I do, however, have a connection to many of the women who actually lived it. Here is their account. https://t.co/LCkdYvF6qr
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) January 9, 2020
Amid a series of accusations, prompted by Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit, Ailes resigned on July 21, 2016 as chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and Chairman of Fox Television Stations. He died of hemophilia less than a year later, on May 18, 2017, at age 77.
In an interview at Business Insider’s IGNITION conference in November 2017, Kelly described in detail the alleged sexual harassment she experienced while working for Ailes.
“[H]e harassed me early on in my tenure at FOX and we got past it,” Kelly told BI’s Alyson Shontell. “So those promotions and all that happened after we got past it. But I was scared when it happened to me. I was second-year reporter at FOX. I wasn’t the me that I am now. I had no power in the industry at all. And no power at FOX News.”
“I was working the D.C. bureau, and I was doing it. I was doing well. I was making my bones,” she explained. “I was reporting on big cases at the Supreme Court using my legal background, breaking news. The Duke alleged rape case was a big case for me, and I got that one right and most reporters didn’t. It was good for me. My career was going well. So when he started it wasn’t clear. Like, he was always bawdy and had an inappropriate sense of humor. But I’ve never been, some people feel differently, but I’ve never been somebody who really takes offense at that. So I was quick to write off the comments, like, ‘Oh, that’s just him.'”
“The harassment that I went through wasn’t obviously harassment in the beginning, and then it graduated,” she continued. “It just got worse and worse and worse, to the point where you couldn’t deny it. It was explicit quid pro quo sexual harassment, which was basically, you sleep with me and I’ll give you a promotion. And even in those moments I tried to laugh it off, and pretend I wasn’t hearing what I was hearing, or try to pretend that I had misunderstood, because I didn’t want a direct confrontation with him. I didn’t want to have to reject him explicitly, and I think this is telling, because a lot of women to whom this happens in the workplace have this calculation where you’re thinking, ‘Holy you know what. My whole job is on the line right now. The last thing I want to do is upset and reject my boss.’ We generally want to charm our bosses and have them feel good about us.”
“And truly the culmination of it was in his office, because when you’d go in there and he’d shut the door and he’d lock the door,” said Kelly. “You would sort of shrug it off, because he was known to be very paranoid about security. But that feeling I’ll never forget of going in there and having him lock that door. So it culminated in him trying to be with me physically.”
“It was only at that point where you couldn’t pretend it wasn’t happening anymore that I really had to come to terms with it, and I ran out of the guy’s office, and he tried to grab me three times. Make out with me, which he didn’t,” she said. “But I had to shove him off of me. And he came back. And I shoved him again, and he came back a third time. And then when I shoved him off a third time, he asked me when my contract was up.”
Asked how she responded, Kelly said, “I reported it to the supervisor who told me just to steer clear of him, which really at the time seemed like good advice, because it was a good way to navigate forward. But in retrospect was terrible, terrible advice.”