Megyn Kelly claims in her new memoir, Settle for More, that former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes tried to kiss her multiple times, asked about her “sexy bras” and hinted that her contract was under threat after she refused his advances. In the shocking excerpt obtained by Us Weekly, the Kelly File host, 45, recalls that the unwanted advances “started in the summer of 2005” after she’d been informed that she had “captured the attention of Mr. Ailes” and was being “fast-tracked” within the company after just one year.
“I was still a neophyte in the DC Bureau, working the 5:00 AM shift and plenty of weekends. By this point, I had figured out that Roger was not a politically correct guy — he would often make off-color jokes or comments about people, politics — pretty much any subject,” Kelly writes in the book. “… At times his humor would be over the top, but it didn’t bother me much. … However, Roger began pushing the limits well beyond humor; beyond anything I’d experienced, introducing explicit sexual innuendo into our conversations. At first it was just a comment here or there. But over the next six months, remarks would get more frequent, and more direct, and then he made physical advances toward me.”
Kelly goes on to allege that “there was a pattern to his behavior” and that Ailes “would engage in a kind of cat-and-mouse game … veering between obviously inappropriate sexually charged comments (e.g., about the ‘very sexy bras’ I must have and how he’d like to see me in them) and legitimate professional advice.”
The news anchor alleges that Ailes “made sexual comments to me, offers of professional advancement in exchange for sexual favors, and, eventually, physical attempts to be with me,” all of which she rejected, Kelly writes.
The Fox host says she was “deeply concerned” by his behavior, and attempted to “laugh off the inappropriate comments,” but found herself in “an upsetting, impossible” dynamic since Ailes was her boss and was known as “‘The Most Powerful Man in News.’ A man whose good opinion I desperately wanted, who could make or break my budding television career.”
It was in January 2006 that Kelly claims Ailes then grabbed her and tried to kiss her three times, before hinting that her contract was at risk.
“Roger called me up to New York and we had a shocking exchange. I was nervous about going into his office, concerned he might start in again. Sure enough, he did,” she claims. “And then he crossed the line — trying to grab me repeatedly and kiss me on the lips. I dodged the first two attempts, pushed him away, and immediately went to leave. His office was large and it took me a beat to get to the door, which was closed. As I walked away from him, he followed me and asked me an ominous question: ‘When is your contract up?’ And then, for the third time, he tried to kiss me. I dodged him again and walked out — upset, rattled, and angry.”
Kelly claims she then sought legal advice, and although she realized Ailes had crossed a line, she didn’t want to sue. While attempting to figure out if other female coworkers had been harassed by Ailes, Kelly writes, she finally brought it up to a supervisor, who vouched for Ailes. Kelly then decided to just avoid Ailes.
“I moved to New York in January 2007 and Roger never sexually harassed me again,” she continued. “For the next nine years, we had a professional relationship in which he was, for the most part, a supportive boss, who mentored and looked out for me.”
It wasn’t until former Fox & Friends coanchor Gretchen Carlson‘s sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes and Fox in July that Kelly considered coming forward again.
“The choice became clear: honor my ethical code, or abide by my loyalty to Roger. There was no way to do both,” she wrote. “In the end, however, I concluded that if Roger were taken down by an honest review of his conduct, it would be his responsibility, not mine. If mine were an isolated incident, he likely had nothing to fear. If it were part of an ongoing pattern, he would have only himself to blame for his undoing.”
Carlson settled with Fox’s parent company and Ailes for $20 million in September after multiple other women at Fox News came forward with allegations of sexual harassment during an internal review. Ailes has repeatedly denied allegations of sexual harassment, including Kelly’s claims.
“I categorically deny the allegations Megyn Kelly makes about me,” Ailes said in a statement released by his lawyer Susan Estrich on Monday, November 14. “I worked tirelessly to promote and advance her career, as Megyn herself admitted to Charlie Rose. Watch that interview and then decide for yourself. My attorneys have restricted me from commenting further — so suffice it to say that no good deed goes unpunished.” (During an interview with Rose in 2015, Kelly said that Ailes had been “nothing but good to me.”)
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