Megyn Kelly Talks About Roger Ailes and ‘Bombshell’ in YouTube Video
Megyn Kelly has kept her distance from “Bombshell,” a Hollywood awards contender that presents her as a key figure in exposing sexual harassment at Fox News. Until now.
On Thursday, the former Fox News anchor posted an online video, nearly 30 minutes long, that shows her watching the film in the company of other women who said they were sexually harassed while working at the network under its chairman, Roger Ailes, who died in 2017, less than a year after he was forced out.
The video includes a detailed discussion between Ms. Kelly and her former colleagues in which they share painful details of what it was like to work at the network. One of the women, Juliet Huddy, said that during a workplace meeting, Mr. Ailes said, “Turn around, let me see your ass.”
In a written introduction to the video on her Instagram page, Ms. Kelly, who had previously described being harassed by Mr. Ailes in her 2016 memoir “Settle for More,” said she had no connection to “Bombshell.” “I did not produce, consult on, or have anything to do with the film,” she wrote. “Neither I nor the women I watched it with sold the rights to our stories (or in my case, my book), so it was somewhat jarring to see a version of our experiences told by strangers.”
She added, “I watched the movie with some of my friends who, like me, were sexually harassed while at Fox News.”
The film, written by the journalist Charles Randolph and directed by Jay Roach, portrays Ms. Kelly as a fighter whose decision to challenge Mr. Ailes roughly coincides with her pressing Donald J. Trump at the start of a 2015 presidential debate over his insulting comments about women.
Ms. Kelly is played with almost eerie verisimilitude by the Oscar winner Charlize Theron, and “Bombshell” returns to public consciousness the often prosecutorial television anchor whose career was thriving before her ill-fated run at NBC, which ended last year.
The video posted by Ms. Kelly shows her watching “Bombshell” at a private screening with three former Fox News journalists — Ms. Huddy, Rudi Bakhtiar and Julie Zann — as well as Ms. Kelly’s husband, the author Douglas Brunt, who is played in the film by Mark Duplass.
The video, marked with an “MK” logo in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, intersperses key scenes from the film with the women’s reactions in the screening room and their comments afterward.
During the sit-down discussion, Ms. Huddy, who left Fox News with a settlement after she said she had been sexually harassed by the former Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly, said that her mother once overheard Mr. O’Reilly “pleasuring himself” via speakerphone. (Mr. O’Reilly has said there is no merit to the allegations made against him.)
The talk moved on to Mr. Ailes and his habit of asking the women who worked at Fox News to twirl for him in his private office.
“I do think we need to talk about the spin, the infamous spin, inside of Ailes’s office,” Ms. Kelly asked the women. “Did you have to do it?”
“I was asked to twirl, and I did it,” Ms. Zann answered.
“So I was asked to do the spin,” Ms. Kelly said, “and, God help me, I did it.” After noting that she had been an honors student who was offered a partnership at the law firm Jones Day, she added, “If you don’t get how demeaning that is, I can’t help you.”
Ms. Zann said that the “Bombshell” scenes that depicted the interactions between Mr. Ailes and the Fox News employee played by Margot Robbie — a composite character whose experience at the network was based on that of various women — were “very close to what happened.” Ms. Zann spoke through tears, and she went on to describe a key difference between her and the film character: “I lost my job because I did say no,” Ms. Zann said, adding, “He wanted me to ask him to give him oral sex, and I was not going to go there.”
Ms. Bakhtiar, played in the film by Nazanin Boniadi, said the film got her experience right. In the movie, she is shown rebuffing the advances of a Fox News anchor, Brian Wilson, who has denied Ms. Bakhtiar’s account of events. In the discussion led by Ms. Kelly, Ms. Bakhtiar said she ended up off the air one day after making a complaint.
“Everyone would tell you don’t complain about sexual harassment because you’ll lose your job,” Ms. Bakhtiar said. “I didn’t think it would happen, but it was immediate.”
In October, Ms. Huddy and Ms. Bakhtiar told The Hollywood Reporter that they had broken the nondisclosure agreements they had signed with Fox News to speak with the “Bombshell” filmmakers.
Ms. Kelly left Fox News for NBC in 2017. Her stint at the network came to an abrupt halt in October 2018, after she wondered aloud, during a “Today” show segment that was criticized as racist, why it was inappropriate for white people to dress in blackface for Halloween. Ms. Kelly and the network had a final parting of ways last January, with NBC agreeing to pay her the outstanding balance on her contract, about $30 million.
Since then, she has kept a relatively low profile, appearing once on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program and posting self-produced interviews on Instagram and YouTube.
In the video posted Thursday, Ms. Kelly said “Bombshell” got a few things wrong. For one thing, she said, Mr. Ailes was not happy with the line of questioning she employed with Mr. Trump during the debate. In the movie, the Fox News chairman is shown saying that the tough exchange made for good television. “A fantasy,” Ms. Kelly said.
She also criticized the scene in which the character played by Ms. Robbie accuses her of watching out for her own career at the expense of other women at Fox News, calling the scene an example of “victim-shaming.” Still, she added, she would not have cut the scene from the film.
In a comment on her Instagram page, Ms. Kelly expressed another complaint with “Bombshell,” writing, “They never asked me for the rights to my book, nor would I have sold them if they did.
“But clearly, they lifted large portions of it for the movie,” she continued. “Then sprinkled in a bunch of fiction.”
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