People in commentariatville want to know what Megyn Kelly has to say about the sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit filed by Gretchen Carlson against Fox News chief Roger Ailes. On his CNN program “Reliable Sources,” media correspondent Brian Stelter remarked, “We’ve not heard from Megyn Kelly, the highest-profile host of Fox News.” The Hollywood Reporter notes, “Megyn Kelly, the most high-profile female anchor on the network, has yet to speak out about the controversy.” Variety: “Megyn Kelly, who has rocketed to fame on Fox News in the past few years, has yet to offer public remarks. And: “Can Kelly somehow skate past this Carlson situation as though it’s not happening? Can she make a comment that’s noncommittal enough to not offend anyone?” asks Anna Merlan over at Jezebel.
Please let Megyn Kelly “skate” all she wants. What insight, after all, will this Fox News megastar add to Gretchen Carlson’s contentions that Ailes asked to view her “posterior,” among many other disturbing lines in her complaint? Does Megyn Kelly have an insider’s knowledge of what happened to Carlson in her one-on-one meetings with the boss? Has she been deployed as a spokeswoman for Fox News? Is she somehow an incorrigible gossip who surely would have heard about Carlson’s situation?
Further: Just what would a Kelly comment look like? We know already that if she issues comments along the lines of what Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greta Van Susteren, Sandra Smith, Maria Bartiromo or Neil Cavuto have said about Ailes, then they’ll just hog server space. Take, for instance, what Bartiromo said in an interview: “It’s just not in keeping with what I know, and my experience at Fox.” Smith professed, “If I ever felt like I was working in a hostile environment, I wouldn’t be here.”
Those are genuinely encouraging comments for Sandra Smith and for Maria Bartiromo. Beyond that, they prove nothing. How, after all, could a particular employee’s sexual-harassment exoneration matter to l’affaire Ailes? “If a guy kills his next-door neighbor, for his defense can he bring in all his other neighbors and say he didn’t murder them?” asks Nancy Erika Smith, a lawyer for Carlson in this case.
Consider that Fox News, at least as of 2011, had nearly 1,300 employees. How many of them would have to come forward to vacate the claims of Carlson? “I don’t think any of them are saying, ‘We were in the room and Roger wasn’t saying that,’ ” says Nancy Erika Smith. Alongside the existing pool of statements from Fox News big shots, another one from Kelly would just enlarge the pile of irrelevant testimonials to the evenhandedness and professionalism of Roger Ailes. Speaking of the outpouring of comments, Nancy Erika Smith tells this blog: “They’re trying to pit woman against woman and we’re not biting. We’re happy that other women haven’t experienced what Gretchen experienced.” Over the weekend, New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that two additional women had come forth with on-the-record comments alleging that Ailes had used his power decades ago to make sexual advances.
Nor is it fair to read anything into the silence of Kelly. Perhaps she just wants to do her job. Another possibility is that she’d like to support her boss but doesn’t want to appear to be dissing Carlson. And if it ever turns out that she faced treatment similar to what Carlson alleges in her complaint, she should address it — or not address it — on her own schedule.
How about some testimony from one Steve Doocy? He’s the “Fox & Friends” co-host who shared the horseshoe couch for years with Carlson. The lawsuit contains heavy allegations against this folksy Trump apologist who rules the network’s morning airwaves. It says that he treated Carlson in a “sexist and condescending way”; that he pulled down her arm to “shush” her in a broadcast; that he “mocked” her during commercials; belittled her work; and declined to recognize her as an “intelligent and insightful female journalist rather than a blond female prop.”
Now: Doocy isn’t named as a defendant in the lawsuit, though clearly he is critical to the case at hand. After citing problems with Doocy’s conduct, Carlson received a directive from Ailes to “get along with the boys” as well as various forms of retaliation, her complaint alleges. Corporations commonly put the muzzle on people so central to ongoing litigation. But still: For this blog’s money, we’d rather hear from a man at the center of the case than from a woman barely on its periphery.