Megyn Kelly is to leave Fox News for rival NBC, ending months of speculation over the future of one of the biggest stars in television news.
As part of a multiyear deal, Ms Kelly will anchor a new weekday daytime show, a Sunday night news show, and contribute to breaking news and special events coverage, NBC said.
The company did not disclose her new salary, although 21st Century Fox had offered Ms Kelly more than $20m to stay on after her contract expires in July. However, her decision was ultimately more about lifestyle than money, said someone familiar with the matter.
“I remain deeply grateful to Fox News, to Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch, and especially to all of the [Fox News] viewers, who have taught me so much about what really matters,” Ms Kelly said in a Facebook post.
Her departure, which was first reported by the New York Times, will rattle the cable news landscape and injects fresh uncertainty to Fox News, which is looking to rebuild after sexual harassment allegations that saw the departure of Roger Ailes, its founder, in July.
Ms Kelly joined Fox News 12 years ago and rose to become one of the channel’s star presenters, generating powerhouse ratings for her show, The Kelly File, which averaged 2.7m viewers last year, according to Nielsen.
She was thrust into the spotlight as a national talking point after clashing with Donald Trump, whom she confronted on camera over his misogynistic comments. Mr Trump fired back, insulting Ms Kelly on Twitter and making derogatory comments about her in an interview with CNN — creating a rare rift between Fox News, a favourite of conservative voters, and the Republican nominee. The controversy fuelled further audience interest in the US election campaign and earned Ms Kelly plaudits.
Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News, called Ms Kelly an “exceptional journalist” with “tremendous skill and poise”.
Ms Kelly has clashed with colleagues at Fox News, including Sean Hannity, who accused her of supporting Hillary Clinton during the campaign. She also raised allegations of sexual harassment against Mr Ailes over the summer, which was viewed as a key part of 21st Century Fox’s decision to hire an external law firm to investigate the chief executive. Describing in her memoir the decision to come forward, Ms Kelly said “by this point in my career, Roger could not destroy me”.
Despite the tumult, Fox News has had a record year helped by audience captivation with the election. The network ended the year as the leading US cable network for primetime viewers, surpassing that of ESPN, the leading sports network, for the first time in its 20-year history.
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