- In a new episode of Megyn Kelly’s YouTube show, the former Fox News star finally responds to “Bombshell,” a fictionalized drama the Fox News sexual harassment scandal, along with fellow former Fox employees Julie Zann, Rudi Bakhtiar, and Juliet Huddy.
- The episode depicts an honest conversation about the women’s experience with sexual harassment at Fox and the solidarity of the women in the #MeToo movement.
- Megyn Kelly emotionally revealed she “wishes she had done more” in the Fox News sexual harassment scandal.
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In a tense scene from the new movie “Bombshell,” three blonde women make a silent and ominous ride up to the office of Fox News Founder Roger Ailes – a key location where countless female employees had been sexually harassed by the powerful media mogul.
Megyn Kelly, Julie Zann, Rudi Bakhtiar, and Juliet Huddy – former Fox News employees who made sexual harassment complaints against their male colleagues – were brought to tears by this pivotal moment when they watched the fictionalized drama for the very first time since its December 13 release.
In a new episode of her YouTube show “Megyn Kelly Presents,” the former Fox News star finally weighed in on the “fact and fiction” of “Bombshell,” a blockbuster film based on the real-life sexual harassment scandal at Fox News, with the very women who lived it – and lost their jobs for speaking out.
The episode showed clips of the women tearfully watching the fictionalized scenes of sexual harassment at the major broadcasting news outlet in a private movie screening and shared a follow-up conversation about their experiences at Fox. (For Zann, a former associate producer working with Laurie Luhn, it was her first-ever on-camera interview about her sexual harassment claims about the now-deceased Ailes.)
In the episode released Thursday, all the women recounted the sexual harassment they experienced with various former employees at the conservative news outlet. While Zann and Huddy were not portrayed in the film, all confirmed alarming patterns in Roger Ailes’ behaviour towards female employees.
Zann, a former associate producer working with Fox personality Laurie Luhn, recalled Ailes making inappropriate comments about her lingerie and propositioning her for oral sex – advances she refused and which she claimed led to her eventual termination at the broadcast news outlet.
“He positioned himself in a chair with his legs open and he wanted me to ask him if I could give him oral sex,” Zann tearfully revealed in her first on-camera interview. “My relationship with Laurie turned very quickly and I was fired a couple [of] months later.”
Kelly confirmed having similar encounters with Ailes asking about her lingerie and even asking for “naked pictures,” all of which she said made her feel “powerless.”
Although Ailes’ advances began as direct and indirect innuendos, Kelly recounted when his words finally turned into actions.
‘His lips were wet and he smelled like alcohol’
All four women confirmed that Ailes had asked them to “twirl” for him. While Bakhtiar claimed she had refused the request, Zann and Kelly say they complied. “He kept holding my arms and looking into my eyes. And then he kissed me on the lips. His lips were wet and he smelled like alcohol,” Kelly said, reading from an entry dated January 27, 2006. “I wanted to run out of there,” Kelly added that after asking about her contract, Ailes attempted to kiss her for the third time.
“I remember feeling like, I put myself through school; I was offered a partnership at Jones Day, one of the best law firms in the world; I argued at federal courts of appeal all over the nation; I came here, I’m covering the United States Supreme Court; I graduated with honours from all of my programs, and now he wants me to twirl – and I did it,” Kelly revealed on the show. “If you don’t get how demeaning that is, I can’t help you. In retrospect, I’d give anything if I had said no.”
While all women felt that “Bombshell” accurately portrayed the sexual harassment they endured at Fox News and how it felt to remain silent about their experiences, they all vehemently protested a scene in which the fictionalized character Kayla, played by actress Margot Robbie, confronts Megyn Kelly, portrayed by Charlize Theron, about remaining silent about Ailes’ sexual advances; Kelly’s dramatized character responded that her complicity was the key to her success at Fox – and helped her secure a Fox News primetime show. Zann in particular claims that the scene was “shameful” and “unfactual,” and contributed to a culture of victim-blaming in which victims of sexual misconduct are held more responsible than their perpetrators.
“There’s no way that victim no.17 blamed her harassment on victims one through 16 for what happened to her,” Kelly commented. “That’s not the way [the #MeToo movement] has shaken out.”
For all the women, besides Kelly, they were never able to work in television again. While Kelly and Zann made formal complaints about Ailes with Fox, Bakhtiar claimed she was fired after reporting Brian Wilson, a former Fox News Washington D.C. bureau chief, for making unwanted sexual advances toward her in 2006. After Huddy, a former Fox-News on-air talent came forward with sexual harassment claims against former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly, she claims she lost her job, house, and career on television.
Although O’Reilly was eventually forced out of Fox News, he was offered a $US25 million annual contract with Fox News in 2017 after a record $US32-million settlement over a sexual harassment complaint – a resolution Huddy admitted feeling “bitter about.” Zann and Kelly agreed that they were unhappy with Ailes’ $US45 million settlement with parent company 21st Century Fox to leave Fox News. The company has since come under new management, including appointing Suzanne Scott as CEO and Kevin Lord as head of human resources, who have lead efforts to change the culture at Fox News and implement a reporting process for claims of sexual harassment, the LA Times reported.
Reflecting on the fallout of the scandal, Kelly emotionally admitted that she regretted not coming forward with her allegations sooner to prevent more women, including Zann, from being harassed at Fox News.
“I’ve looked back on my own life, every moment from that moment forward and I do wish that I had done more,” Kelly revealed. “Even though I was powerless, even though it would have been a suicidal move for me career-wise… Maybe that wouldn’t have happened to you.”
Fox News had no comment on the new episode of “Megyn Kelly Presents” or “Bombshell” other than saying that no one from the movie contacted the network to fact-check their account.
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