Sarah Ellison writes in Vanity Fair about the efforts of Rupert Murdoch’s sons James and Lachlan to renew the contract of Fox News’s “brightest star, Megyn Kelly,” who they see as a “big part of the future” of the formerly right-leaning cable news network, despite her “enmity” for the network’s other stars, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.
From Vanity Fair:
Since the Ailes scandal broke, however, the younger Murdochs have become more involved in the network. Not only did the brothers unilaterally decide to retain the law firm Paul, Weiss, whose internal investigation facilitated Ailes’s exit, but they are now playing a pivotal role in persuading the network’s brightest star, Megyn Kelly, whose contract expires in July 2017, to re-sign.
Kelly and the younger Murdochs have been close for years. They are all in their early-to-mid-40s, and can espouse views that can be out of lockstep with the network’s hard-right narrative. Kelly, who spoke to lawyers from Paul, Weiss during their investigation, was indeed a pivotal figure in the Ailes ouster. And throughout it all, according to a person familiar with the matter, Kelly spoke multiple times with Murdoch family members. “Lachlan was the one who talked to her throughout this entire ordeal,” this person told me earlier this summer. “James loves Megyn,” this person continued. “He believes she’s a big part of the future of this channel.” According to a person close to Kelly, she has dined at the younger Murdoch’s homes twice in the past several months.
This person close to Kelly explained that the younger Murdochs appear to be doing everything in their power to keep the anchor. (Another person familiar with the internal operations of Fox News also noted that any negotiations would likely begin now, before the election, and well in advance of her contract’s expiration.) Kelly, who The L.A. Times has reported earns around $10 million a year at Fox News, could possibly command double that amount, a figure more in line with what her in-house rival and nemesis Bill O’Reilly reportedly earns. But the person close to Kelly told me it was “premature” to say that Kelly was staying at Fox News. “I don’t think she knows what she is going to do,” this person continued. Kelly, for her part, is preparing to promote her forthcoming book, Settle for More.
O’Reilly and Kelly’s enmity is well known. Less public is the fact that O’Reilly and Sean Hannity haven’t talked for years either. (Kelly and Hannity recently had their own kerfuffle, of course.) The internal rivalries within Fox News were often fueled by Ailes, but they were also controlled by him, too. And with him gone, they seem to have only gotten worse. Last month, O’Reilly took a night off, and his replacement garnered lower ratings than his competition on both MSNBC and CNN. It’s a sign of just how much the Murdochs have to manage as they try to keep Fox News in its dominant position. O’Reilly’s contract, too, is up in 2017, and as far as I know, he hasn’t attended any dinner parties at the Murdoch sons’ homes lately.
Read the rest here.