After Megyn Kelly announced today that she was leaving Fox News to join NBC News, many reacted with surprise at the TV journalist turning down a reported $20 million a year to stay with Fox. What’s getting less attention is one of the reasons why she made the move: the opportunity to have dinner with her family.
According to the New York Times (paywall), NBC’s Andrew Lack began negotiations by asking Kelly, 46, what she wanted. It turns out her priority wasn’t maximizing her earning potential, but spending more time with her husband and three young children. Her deal with NBC gives her a daytime show to run Monday through Friday as well as a Sunday night news show and a role in anchoring big news events—and with that comes a humane schedule where she can send her kids off to school in the morning and have dinner with them in the evening.
Her schedule at Fox, where she hosted a daily news show at 9pm US eastern time, made that impossible. As some have noted, Lack’s approach is rare—but it should be the norm in any industry.
Professional women—and men—are increasingly eager to find ways to strike a balance between work and family. Some progressive employers—like Patagonia, with generous parental-leave policies and on-site childcare—have made it a priority. An increasing number of employers, from Deloitte to IKEA, are recognizing that being family-friendly is a competitive advantage.
Kelly may have other reasons for leaving, as well. After Fox’s Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against former network chairman Roger Ailes, Kelly was the most prominent Fox employee to back Carlson, and offered her own account of Ailes’s misbehavior. That put her odds with Fox’s other stars, like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, who publicly defended Ailes and scoffed at Carlson’s claims. (Ailes has denied the accusations).
Fox’s decision to oust Ailes and settle with Carlson may have been motivated, in part, by a desire keep Kelly in the fold. In the end, though, it appears NBC made Kelly an offer she couldn’t refuse.