NEW YORK >> Megyn Kelly says she did the “twirl” before Roger Ailes, too.
The former Fox News Channel personality referred to an excruciating scene in the movie “Bombshell,” where John Lithgow, portraying the late Fox News boss, orders an aspiring news anchor played by Margot Robbie to turn around in front of him so he could eyeball her body.
Kelly, now a television free agent after losing her job at NBC News, released an online video where she, her husband and three women who had accused Ailes and former anchor Bill O’Reilly of unwanted sexual advances watched the movie and discussed their experiences.
“I was asked to do the spin, and God help me, I did it,” said Kelly, a former lawyer who became a prime-time star at Fox before leaving in 2016.
She said she couldn’t help but think of how she had gone from law school, arguing cases before appeals courts and receiving an offer to become partner at a firm, to now “performing” for Ailes.
“If you don’t get how demeaning that is, I can’t help you,” she said. “I’d give anything if I had said no.”
Kelly accused Ailes of forcibly trying to kiss her and wanting to see nude pictures of her on other occasions.
Ailes, who died in 2017, and O’Reilly were both fired for sexual misconduct. They denied being involved in non-consensual activities.
Kelly, Juliette Huddy, Rudi Bakhtiar and Julie Zann all fought back tears at certain points watching the film and discussing their own experiences. Kelly doubled as the interviewer and participant as they talked about some scenes that were inaccurate and others that hit close to home.
The other women expressed anger at a scene they said was fictional, where the aspiring anchor Kayla Pospisil, portrayed by Robbie, scolds Kelly’s character, played by Charlize Theron. Pospisil asked the fictional Kelly if she ever wondered what her public silence following her own harassment incidents meant to the women who came after her.
Kelly’s character replies, “look around, snowflake. How do you think I succeeded?”
“I saw that scene and said, ‘that was written by a man,’” Kelly said.
In real life, it wasn’t until former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes in 2016 that allegations about his behavior became public. Kelly, who said she’d been harassed a decade earlier, was “outed” in the sense that a leaked news report revealed that she had told her story to an investigation team appointed after Carlson’s lawsuit. She told her story in a book that came out three months later.
Kelly’s husband, Douglas Brunt, said Ailes would have survived if she had reported the misconduct after it happened. “You would have blown yourself up for nothing,” he said.
But Kelly said she’d spent a lot of time looking back on the experience and wishes now that she had done more.
“Even though I was powerless, even though it would have been a suicidal move for me career-wise, what if I had just said, ‘screw it, I’ll go back to practicing law.’ What if I had thrown myself back on the fire? I don’t have to have a career in this industry. Maybe that wouldn’t have happened to you,” she said to Zann.