UPDATE: 21st Century Fox released the following statement in response to what Megyn Kelly said about Fox News’ Irena Briganti: “Irena is a valued colleague and she has our full support.”
Megyn Kelly is hitting back at the statements ousted Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly made in response to a new exposé about his sexual harassment allegations history at the network.
On Saturday, The New York Times reported that stated Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox entered contract negotiations with O’Reilly earlier this year even after they were made aware of the fact that he had just reached $32 million settlement with former Fox analyst Lis Wiehl, who accused him of sexual harassment. In response to the report, O’Reilly’s rep Mark Fabiani released a statement that said, “In the more than 20 years Bill O’Reilly worked at Fox News, not one complaint was filed against him with the Human Resources Department or Legal Department by a coworker, even on the anonymous hotline.”
According to Kelly, who joined NBC News after leaving Fox in January, the spirit of that statement is “false.”
“Maybe that is true. Fox News was not exactly a friendly environment for harassment victims who wanted to report, in my experience,” said Kelly during Monday’s installment of NBC’s Megyn Kelly TODAY. “However, O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false. I know, because I complained.”
Kelly revealed that she wrote an email to the co-presidents of Fox News, Bill Shine and Jack Abernathy, complaining about O’Reilly’s “history of harassment of women” on the day her memoir, Settle for More, was released in November 2016 after O’Reilly said in appearance on CBS News that he didn’t want to talk about the Roger Ailes scandal because it made his network look bad. Kelly decided to share part of the email on the air because “I think it speaks volumes about powerful men and the road blocks one can face in taking them on.”
“Perhaps he didn’t realize the kind of message his criticism sends to young women across this country about how men continue to view the issue of speaking out about sexual harassment,” Kelly wrote in the email, which was dated Nov. 15, 2016. “Perhaps he didn’t realize that his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell of up about harassment on grounds that it will disgrace the company is, in part, how Fox got into the decade-long Ailes mess to begin with.”
She continued in the email: “Perhaps, it’s his own history of harassment of women which has, as you both know, resulted in payouts to more than one woman, including recently, that blinded him to the folly of saying anything other than ‘I am just so sorry for the women of this company who never should have had to go through that.'” (You can read Kelly’s full email here.)
According to Kelly, Shine called her and promised to deal with O’Reilly. “By 8 p.m. that night, O’Reilly had apparently been dealt with, and by that I mean he was permitted with management’s advance notice and blessing to go on the air and attack the company’s harassment victims yet again,” said Kelly. During that evening’s broadcast of The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly said, “Don’t run down the concern that supports you by trying to undermine it.”
Kelly went on to explain that this is not unique to Fox News and that women usually choose to remain silent out of fear of hurting their careers or being shamed in the media. “At Fox News, the media relations chief, Irena Briganti, is known for her vindictiveness,” said Kelly. “To this day, she pushes negative articles on certain Ailes accusers, like the one you are looking at right now.”
She concluded: “It gives me no pleasure to report such news about my former employer, which has absolutely made some reforms since all of this went down. But this must stop. The abuse of women, the shaming of them, the threatening of the retaliation, the silencing of them after the fact, it has to stop,
Watch Kelly’s powerful statement above.