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Megyn Kelly reveals she complained about Bill O'Reilly to presidents of Fox News

Megyn Kelly revealed on TODAY Monday that she sent an email last year to the co-presidents of her former employer Fox News, complaining about the behavior of anchor Bill O'Reilly toward women
/ Source: TODAY

Megyn Kelly revealed on TODAY Monday that she sent an email last year to the co-presidents of her former employer Fox News complaining about the behavior of anchor Bill O'Reilly toward women.

Kelly's revelation came after the The New York Times reported on Saturday that O'Reilly paid $32 million to settle a sexual harassment claim with Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl in January and then was given a new contract by the company.

O'Reilly responded to the report by saying through a spokesman that the report had "maliciously smeared" him. He also claimed that no woman ever spoke to human resources or the legal department about his behavior in his 21 years at Fox News.

"O'Reilly's suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false,'' Kelly said Monday. "I know because I complained."

Kelly, who worked at Fox News from 2004 until January, said she wrote an email to the co-presidents of Fox News, Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy, in November 2016 about O'Reilly's treatment of women.

Kelly's memoir, "Settle for More," had been released that day and included a chapter in which Kelly said she was sexually harassed by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.

In an appearance on CBS News, O'Reilly became defensive when he was asked about the book.

"I'm not interested in basically litigating something that is finished that makes my network look bad,'' he said. "I'm not interested in making my network look bad at all. That doesn't interest me one bit."

That prompted Kelly to complain to Shine and Abernethy.

"Perhaps he didn't realize the kind of message his criticism sent to young women across this country about how men continue to view the issue of speaking out about sexual harassment,'' she wrote in the email. "Perhaps he didn't realize that his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment on grounds that it will disgrace the company is in part how Fox News got into the decade-long Ailes mess to begin with.

"Perhaps it's his own history of harassment with 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'm just so sorry for the women of this company who never should've had to go through that.'''

Kelly said Shine informed her he would "deal with it."

"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,'' Kelly said.

On his show that night, O'Reilly said, "Don't run down the concern that supports you by trying to undermine it,'' about any women who feel they have been harassed.

O'Reilly was fired by Fox News in April after revelations by The New York Times that five women were paid millions in settlements after claims of sexual harassment.

"This is not unique to Fox News,'' Kelly said. "Women everywhere are used to being dismissed, ignored or attacked when raising complaints about men in authority positions. They stay silent so often out of fear."

Kelly also said Fox News' media relations chief, Irena Briganti, was "known for her vindictiveness."

"To this day she pushes negative articles on certain (Roger) Ailes accusers like the one you are looking at right now," she said.

"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, the retaliation, the silencing of them after the fact. It has to stop."

Kelly said she made the email public "because I think it speaks volumes about powerful men and the roadblocks one can face in taking them on."

Kelly also spoke on TODAY with her former Fox News colleague, Juliet Huddy, who settled a claim of sexual harassment against O'Reilly last year. She spoke about the challenge of making those types of claims against at a large company like Fox News.

"You know that you're just this one person that's about to go up against literally a machine,'' Huddy said. "It's daunting and it's frightening and it holds you back from taking action sometimes."

Huddy, who cannot comment on her own case after signing a non-disclosure agreement, spoke about those types of agreements in general.

"I think people have regrets when they sign non-disclosure agreements,'' she said. "I would imagine that they do. I think it's something that you grapple with when you're going through it and you think it's the best move to make, and it's not necessarily the best move."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.

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