Megyn Kelly Talks Matt Lauer, Fox News, Donald Trump, Roger Ailes


– Megyn, we’re so excited to have you. – Hi, excited to be here. – I don’t think you need
much by way of introduction, but I will give just a couple points. You got into journalism at 32, had been a lawyer in a previous life. 12 years at FOX. You now have two shows over at NBC. One in the morning on the
Today Show hour at 9:00 a.m. Quite a morning for you I assume. And then you’ve done
a lot to shine a light on sexual harassment over
the years and on your show. And you’re not afraid
to reinvent yourself. So a lot to dive in, but we gotta address the
elephant in the room first. Matt Lauer, holy cow. When you woke up this morning did you know that this was brewing? What were your thoughts? – No, I didn’t. You know, I — – [Alyson] Not at all? Not like, Variety and New York Times had been working on stories. You don’t hear about these things? – So, I didn’t have
any official knowledge. But because of the work I
do and the stories I cover, and the connections I
have in the industry, I have a general feel for, I mean, I knew the Charlie Rose thing was coming. And I had heard rumors about Matt. But that’s all they were. My feeling on it was a
rumor is not the same as reportable fact. And it was also that
I hear a lot of rumors about myself too that
are completely untrue, and when you’re a public
figure, people do make up things about you and put them in print. So I had no inside knowledge at all. But I knew people were
sniffing around the issue, and hoped it wasn’t true, and wouldn’t have been
surprised if none of that had been materialized and he had a long and enjoyable last
whatever, however many years he wanted to be at the Today Show. – You said on your show this morning it did hit close to home. This is now a colleague of yours. This is now the second
colleague of yours, at least, who has had something like this happen. – A third, really. I mean, well, fourth. – [Alyson] Yeah, Bill O’Reilly. – Because looking back at FOX it’s like O’Reilly was a colleague,
Roger Ailes was my boss. Eric Bolling was a friend. I’m losing track of all, but yeah, a lot. – So sad. You’ve got quite enough experience
with this unfortunately, and as someone also who’s
had it happen to them. One thing that happened
to you is Roger Ailes had been your boss and your mentor. I believe he sounded really
supportive of you at the time. He promoted you twice, I think, when you were on maternity leave. – At least. – And just saw you as a
star and helped you rise through FOX but then you
have this great mentor who in your first year or two at FOX you say he sexually harassed you. How did you cope with that as a woman who had this happen to her? – Well, I mean, he harassed me
early on in my tenure at FOX and we got past it. So those promotions and all that happened after we got past it. But I was scared when it happened to me. I was second year reporter at FOX. I wasn’t the me that I am now. I had no power in the industry at all. And no power at FOX News. I was working the D.C. bureau, and I was doing it. I was doing well. I was making my bones. I was reporting on big
cases at the Supreme Court using my legal background, breaking news. The Duke alleged rape case
was a big case for me, and I got that one right
and most reporters didn’t. It was good for me. My career was going well. So when he started it wasn’t clear. Like, he was always bawdy and had an inappropriate sense of humor. But I’ve never been, some
people feel differently, but I’ve never been somebody who really takes offense at that. So I was quick to write
off the comments, like, “Oh, that’s just him.” The harassment that I went through wasn’t obviously harassment in the beginning, and then it graduated. It just got worse and worse and worse, to the point where you couldn’t deny it. It was explicit quid pro
quo sexual harassment, which was basically, you sleep with me and
I’ll give you a promotion. And even in those moments
I tried to laugh it off, and pretend I wasn’t
hearing what I was hearing, or try to pretend that
I had misunderstood, because I didn’t want a
direct confrontation with him. I didn’t want to have to
reject him explicitly, and I think this is telling, because a lot of women
to whom this happens in the workplace have this calculation where you’re thinking, “Holy you know what. “My whole job is on the line right now “The last thing I want to do
is upset and reject my boss.” We generally want to charm our bosses and have them feel good about us. And truly the culmination
of it was in his office, because when you’d go in
there and he’d shut the door and he’d lock the door. – [Alyson] That’s terrifying. – You would sort of shrug it off, because he was known to be
very paranoid about security. But that feeling I’ll never forget of going in there and
having him lock that door. So it culminated in him trying
to be with me physically. And it was only at that
point where you couldn’t pretend it wasn’t happening anymore that I really had to come to terms with it and I ran out of the guys office and he tried to grab me three times. Make out with me, which he didn’t. But I had to shove him off of me. And he came back. And I shoved him again, and he came back a third time. And then when I shoved
him off a third time he asked me when my contract was up. – Oh my God. Wow. So how do you, you clearly went on from that. I think in your book you talk
about you distanced yourself as much as you could from
him after he’s saying — – Well, I reported it to the supervisor who told me just to stear clear of him, which really at the time
seemed like good advice, because it was a good
way to navigate forward. But in retrospect was
terrible, terrible advice. – You were in a powerless
position at the time. When you finally did speak out about it after other colleagues
starting talking about it, you were in a powerful position. A lot of women that are
having to come forward now are not powerful and as you
talked about on your show this morning you don’t
see the pain that they’re going through as something
like Matt Lauer is addressed. So what advice do you have for them if they’re scared to come forward if they’re maybe not
in a powerful position? – I understand that because I feel like it’s all well and good
for me to sit here now in the position I now am in and say, “Report it. “Go to human resources.” Human resources was not an
option for me at all at FOX News. It was entity completely
controlled by the CEO, Ailes, who was my harasser. I mean, it would have
been totally pointless. And I did report it to a
supervisor for that matter who did nothing about it, predictably. So I want to say to
those women I understand, and it’s not that I am
oblivious to how hard it is to go report but I also
want to say find a way. Because the culture, I don’t
want to say has changed, but it is changing
meaningfully by the moment thanks to the women who
are finding the courage, somehow who are finding the courage. Let me tell you when this happens to you by somebody’s who’s not
that much above you, it’s not as scary to report it. The women who don’t tend
to report are the ones who are very low on the totem pole who are having it happen to them by somebody who’s in a lot
of power who they know, because they’re not idiots, the company is likely to protect. They have a vested interest in this man. And I think to those women
they need take a look at the broader culture
right now and see how companies are being forced to respond, and men who have been doing this now have real skin in the game. Look at the number of
men who have been fired. Powerful men who are
considered indispensable. We never would have thought Roger Ailes would have been fired by FOX News. Ever. Bill O’Reilly, he was
considered indispensable. Wrong. Charlie Rose, on and on it goes. So I think they have to find the courage to seek somebody out and
if they can’t make it be someone in power, someone
with real responsibility at the company, go to someone like me. Someone who maybe doesn’t have a mandatory reporting obligation within the company, but who would be there to advise you. And let me tell you, if a
woman came to me at NBC News and said this is happened
to me by somebody, A, I would advise her on what to do, B, I would work it behind the scenes. Even if I had to go into
the bosses office and say here’s a name, go investigate. You have to do some sort of looking. I’m not gonna tell you who reported it. I don’t have to. But I think powerful
women need to be there for less powerful women
so that they can grow into powerful women so
that they’re not scared out of the workforce or
effectively shoved out because so often what we
see is a woman gets moved. Suddenly her work product
isn’t as good, right. She chooses to leave
because she doesn’t want to live like that. So these companies are
bleeding awesome female talent, because women don’t want
to deal with this nonsense. So if it gets to the point
where they just can’t take it anymore and they don’t feel like there’s any meaningful
avenue, they’ll leave. – I could talk to you
about this the entire time, but there’s so much other ground to cover. So I want to transition a little bit. Still a little bit on
the harassment lines, you were a subject of this but, the last two years for you, I want to go back to
the August 2015 debate, the first presidential debate
when you asked this question that rocked the world
and sent ripple effects. And I want to set the scene
for it a little bit too. You and Trump had had some
interactions the week prior. He seemed nervous about you. He had actually hung up
the phone on you that week. He had been calling
your bosses being like, “What’s Megyn gonna do in the debate?” Were you worried about that night knowing what you were gonna
be asking him about women? – I mean, I could feel a storm coming. That’s how it felt. He was angry with me and he yelled at me and hung up on me the Monday
before that Thursday debate because of a segment I
had done on the Kelly File about his alleged rape of Ivana Trump. A story that had been
reported in the news, it was based on her sworn
deposition testimony saying he had raped her. And then she later recanted. Anyway, this was made
an issue in the press in the course of his presidential run, and we covered it on the Kelly File, which he was not happy about. So he called me up and yelled
at me and screamed at me, and ba, ba, ba. My question that I asked
that night about women had long been in the bank. It wasn’t like I wrote
that after he yelled at me. But it certainly did make me realize he’s already angry, and he’s not gonna like this question. But what can you do? You’re a journalist. Sometimes you make people angry. – So you asked and it has, Trump’s clearly not happy. He goes and talks about you
bleeding out of wherever. His lawyer tweets about you
being gutted or gutting her. – We can gut her. – Tell me about what the
weeks and months were like being as Maureen Dowd
put it, Trump’s chew toy. (audience chuckles) – I know you’re laughing, but I really don’t like that. I didn’t like that. At all. And objected, I didn’t like the way she phrased it. It was bullshit. Can you swear here? I wasn’t. I never backed down from him. I never stopped covering him fairly, the controversies he generated. I never was cowed out of fear, even though the security threats in my life went like this. And my children’s lives like this. And it was hard to go out
there night after night and do that and find the
courage to cover him fairly, but not over correct
to the point where you bashed him because he was coming after you and causing this issue in your life. I was not his chew toy. He continued to try to bully me, and I call it an attempted bullying, because an effective
bullying causes change in the other persons behavior. He didn’t. And at the end of nine
months of relentless, relentless attacks over a hundred tweets, the guy, Dan Scavino,
who’s now the White House Director of Social Media, who was relentless too and
orchestrated a campaign against me online, Michael Cohen, who’s the one who’s Trump’s lawyer, he’s now working for
the President, who said, “We can gut her.” I mean, tens of thousands
of people he’s tweeting, “We can gut her” when there’s a fever
pitch already against me. It wouldn’t stop. Nothing would stop the behavior. He never could get past it. And finally I decided to
take the situation in hand and go right to Trump
Tower and stand him down, which is what I did. – Right, but that’s after
your daughter, I think, your daughter came to you and said, “Mom, what’s a bimbo?” and asked you, “Does Donald Trump want to hurt you?” and you had people showing
up at your door at your home. Your family’s security is at stake. That must have been awful. – The Yardley moment was maybe
the lowest moment of all. It was one of the lowest moments. – [Alyson] And Yardley is your daughter. – She’s my daughter. She’s six now. We didn’t share with our kids
at all any of his nonsense, because they have enough to worry about, and worrying about presidential politics and certainly not anything involving me and the possible president. But they heard things. They live in this world. Yardley came home one day and asked me, “What’s a bimbo?” ‘Cause he had tweeted that out about me. The thing about it that was so devastating is a year earlier, not a
year, but not long earlier, I can’t remember exactly the timing, but I had taken her with me to Fortune Most Powerful Women Conference, and she said to me on the
train ride down there, “What is this thing we’re going to?” And I said, “This is a conference that talks about “really powerful women
who’ve done great things “and celebrates them.” And she looked at me and said, “Are we two of them?” I thought about the loss
that my child had suffered without even knowing it
of going from thinking she was at five, or four at the time, a Fortune Most Powerful Woman, to asking me what a bimbo is. To this moment it’s painful. It’s not, listen, I can take,
a lot of people call me names. I can take it. But there was a loss in that moment. She lost something. Every time a man, whether
it is our president, or a news anchor, demeans
or diminishes a woman by grabbing her ass or
talking about her body, or coming on to her instead
of asking for her ideas and treating her like a professional in the workplace setting,
they lose something too. It’s not a small matter. It’s a huge deal. It’s been happening
systemically for far too long. I feel like this is the first moment we’re starting to think maybe it doesn’t have to keep happening. Maybe we won’t be “the
nice” women and girls we’ve been raised to be. That is what is prized
among women and young girls. Niceness. Go along to get along. Don’t cause waves. Enough of that. Enough of that. – You’re talking about
that a lot on your show, and using that to power
the empowerment revolution as I think you like to say. But I want to talk about
how you came to NBC. You come off this very tough year being the subject of a
hundred Trump tweets, and you realize what? What was it about FOX
that made you be like, “I need something else. “I want something new.” NBC is a big change. – It was a combination of a lot of things. First and foremost I was not
seeing my children grow up. I would leave for work at 3:00, 3:30, which is exactly when your
kids get home from school. They had aged into that school schedule. When I started the Kelly File they were four, three, and newborn. By the time I left they were two out of three in school ’til 3:00. So I wasn’t seeing them. I wasn’t seeing two out
of my three children Monday through Friday
except for that 45 minutes in the morning where
you’re just yell at them to get their backpack and
their sneakers and get out. Which is not meaningful. So I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t good enough. I’m fine being a working parent. I need to be a working parent. I love my work. That wasn’t good enough. The balance had tipped too far. Professionally, I really felt like there was no more growth
for me at FOX News. That I had done all the
things I wanted to do there. – I would press you on, I think a lot of people
would say that right now is the most important time in
history of American politics. And you were seen as a leader. You had this great following on FOX. You have the bases ear watching your show. Why take yourself out
of politics right now? Don’t you think the world needs more of that hard-hitting journalism? – I’m all for hard-hitting journalism. However, I do feel that
in the era of Trump you might as well go stand
on the edge of the Pacific and scream at the top of
your lungs all day every day. – [Alyson] Um, okay. – I can tell you.. (audience chuckles) Truly, I anchored on the FOX
News Channel at 9:00 p.m., one of, if not the most
powerful time slot there, for a full year and I covered
every controversy of his earnestly and in a tough manner. From the Gold Star family, Judge Curiel, women, you name it, right. I was the first to call
out his misogyny publicly. Did it do any good? Were hearts and minds changed? Was there an available audience to me at the FOX News channel of Republicans and Independents and
Democrats who are open minded who were there for persuading? You tell me. It’s not to say that there’s no value in political journalism. I do believe that journalists
are the first draft historians and there’s value in that. But if you are covering politics
to try to persuade people, which is what I think
people wanted me to do, you’re wasting your time. The Trump voters are dug in on Trump. The Trump haters are dug in on Trump. There’s so much that goes into their very strong views on him, and frankly I thought to myself I could also get into a bath every morning of carcinogens and just
roll around in it all day, but that’s not good for me either. I really, my whole feeling, it’s not just Trump, my feeling on the
beltway on political news is the folks inside the
beltway are dead to us. We have to forge on without them. The leaders, to me, nine times out of ten are feckless and spineless
and often controlled by big money interests
and don’t seem to have any real appetite anymore
for getting things done or reaching across the aisle
or reaching compromises that work for the American people. We have to do an end around. I would love to be part of
raising powerful boys and girls, sending messages out into
the world and our country that are more positive and inspirational and aspirational and
celebrating the people who have had challenges in their own lives and showing people a
way to deal with them. That, I think, has value. That is not screaming into the Pacific. So I admire those who do
it, don’t get me wrong. It’s hard. It’s harder than it’s ever been to be in political journalism. I tip my hat to my colleagues who do it, and I know them all. But I can see on most of them the wear and tear, how hard it is and how
not rewarding right now. – It sounds like
screaming into the Pacific it almost felt like a helpless situation no matter what you said. – I would never use that
word about me or my life. – Right, well, fair. But at NBC you’re trying, it sounds like you’re hoping
to reach the core of America and influence their values
and do that with your show. Has it been, you’ve
interviewed Trump, Putin, dealt with all sorts of things. – Big Bird. – Big Bird, of course. – The full range. – Has it been harder than you
thought to do a morning show where things are happy
and cheery and lighter? – No, it hasn’t been hard. I don’t really think about
challenges in my life as hard. I don’t think that’s helpful thinking. I like challenges. I said to my husband when I
was thinking about leaving FOX that we were actually in Lake Placid, we were hiking up this mountain. It was a small mountain. I’m not an exerciser. But we got to the top and I said, I was thinking about
do I leave, do I stay? And I said, “You know, sometimes the
ascent is more enjoyable “than being at the summit.” Building something, creating something, building new muscles, growing. And that’s what I’m doing. My friends who know me,
they see the me they know on the Today Show. People who only knew me
from snip-its of FOX News think I’m all sharp elbows, and I have them and I can
use them and I still will. But that’s not all of me. And I actually think it’s
been a very sexist meme for people to suggest
that because you can throw a sharp elbow when necessary that you have no softness to you. I would submit that is not true of me, nor any woman I know, nor any man for that matter. So for me, it’s been a delight, because I have this platform where I can tap into the other pieces of me and if you need to be hard-hitting in any given interview, and
I’ve already had a couple of those on my show, you can be. But I also have these other venues at NBC that will allow me to
do political journalism. I’ll be on air for NBC on
the big political nights. And on the Sunday Show where I did Putin, and all that’s still fair game. It’s just my focus is
on something that I hope is more uplifting than
this stoking of outrage you get in political coverage. – If you were hoping to
not be the story anymore, I think that that has not happened. You are constantly in the news. – Let’s see that point. – You have a very big fan at Jezebel who writes about you quite often and you invited — – Bobby Finger. – Yes, yes, your favorite. And he came on your show and
it was kind of a funny moment, but how do you deal with the criticism and the ratings talk and
is there pressure from NBC to really nail this morning hour? – They’ve been great. NBC has put zero pressure on me. I’ve only felt supported by them. You know, we’re little babies. We’re like a little nine
week old baby on my show, and so we’re getting it going, you know. It’s like right now we’re
starting to find our voice, hit our stride, things are growing. So I feel good about it and
they feel good about it. They’ve done nothing
other than support me. Criticism, it’s part of the game. I’m not gonna lie. It isn’t pleasant. It’s not like I’m some,
I’m impervious to it. I’m just this, I’m fine. I cry, I hold my husband and say, “Why does it have to be so hard? “Why does it have to be this way?” But then I pick myself
up, dust myself off, and just do the damn job and
that’s what you have to do. If you go through it enough
times it does get easier, which is what I want to tell others. So if a big crisis hits you in your life, or you find yourself on the receiving end of great criticism, whether it’s as public as I
have or some other amount, you should welcome it because
it’s an opportunity to grow. You will emerge out
the other side stronger than when you began and
there’s value in that. – You are not someone who’s
afraid to speak your mind, to do what you believe is right, even if it is unpopular. At times it is, and at times you’ve been proven really right. So I would say one of
those moments is Alex Jones had a lot of flack for interviewing him, and then the interview came
out and people were like, “Oh, this is actually
important journalism.” You had a moment on FOX News
where you defended women in the workplace to the
point where a stranger named Sheryl Sandberg
called you up and said, “I love you” which is amazing. But you’ve also had moments where, when you’re constantly speaking your mind, you’re gonna say things
that don’t always resonate or people don’t agree with. I think one notable one is Santa is white on FOX as a moment. The first week of your show
there were a few statements that rubbed people the
wrong way about Jane Fonda and plastic surgery and things like that. Upon further reflection
do you regret anything that you’ve said out there
and is Santa still white? – I regret a lot of what I’ve said. I mean you’re gonna be on
the air several hours a week, live television, you’re
gonna say stupid shit. That’s just the reality. So yeah, there’s a lot I’d like to go back and say differently. All I can tell you is I think
the lens is a truth teller. And people who watch you day after day will see who you are without
the caricature of you that’s put out there by websites and so on looming over you. You know, one of my great struggles at FOX was I felt everything I
did was viewed through a negative prism by
those who didn’t like FOX or what it stands for. And I hated that. I think there’s a lot of people over there who are good people and
solid journalists who I love, who struggle with that. And I’m sure people at other
stations have the same thing. People have a world view
about certain journalists or their organizations. I really hope that in my new position people will just see me for who I am and not through that prism. So far I feel like it’s happening, but I feel like time will tell. You’ll see me and you’ll
figure out who I am and then people will accept or not accept based on what they see and
that’s all I can ask for anybody. – I want to, like I said, I
could talk to you for hours. But we don’t have that much time, so I just want to wrap it up
with your philosophy on life. You wrote a best seller
called “Settle For More.” It came from when you were a lawyer. You were a high-powered
lawyer on track to become a partner in your early 30s
and you watched Dr. Phil on Oprah and he said something
that really just resonates. What was that and then how
did you put it to action? – He said, “The only difference between
you and someone you envy “is that you settled for less.” And honestly I resolved in that moment that I would settle for more, that I would change my life. I had been a very unhappy lawyer. I had no life. I didn’t understand, I became a lawyer because I really thought that it would help
people take me seriously. I thought it was somehow
gonna legitimize me to have an Esq. after my name. And it did to some extent, it did. But at what cost? I wasn’t happy. After 9/11, I was in Chicago
for 9/11 practicing law and I saw these journalists
out there on the street at great risk to themselves
reporting the news fairly, professionally,
appropriately, humanely. Like they didn’t lose
their humanity in doing it, but they also weren’t making
the story about themselves. I just thought wow, I admire them. I admire them. And I had always thought
about broadcast journalism, and I was feeling of the
reporters a certain kind of envy of their doing a public service to me right now as a viewer watching this. So it was after that I heard Dr. Phil, and my life was miserable. And I decided to settle for more and just try something else. And it worked out. I didn’t know anybody in journalism. I didn’t have any connections. I didn’t come from a family
with connections of any kind. But there was a woman named
Meredith in my guitar class and as it turned out not long after that she wasn’t there. I found out it was because
she worked at WMAQ, the Chicago NBC O&O and I said, “Oh my God, you’re in news. “Can I take you out for a cup of coffee?” And she said yes and she
helped me make a resume tape, which is what you need to get
an on-air job as a reporter, and the rest is history. – So you’ve become
extremely successful at, I think you own a green
t-shirt I read that says, “I want it all.” I would say that you do. To quote this good friend now
of yours, Dr. Phil, he said, “Successful lawyer, top journalist, “wife, mother of three, if that’s a bimbo, “I hope all of my granddaughters
grow up to be bimbos.” (laughter) So now that you do have
it all are you happy? Are you exhausted? Is it possible to become too successful? – Happy and exhausted, yes. I would say I’m as happy as
an Irish Catholic can be. I don’t know. (laughter) There’s a lot of guilt. (chuckles) I am happy. I am. It like my happiness doesn’t revolve so much around my job, although
my job right now is joyful. It revolves around the
core people in my life who make me me, who help make me me. So your job, I think, it can
drive you to unhappiness. I’ve certainly seen that and
it can stir up your happiness, like maybe take it up a notch or two. But I am happy because I have Doug and I have my three children, and I have my good friends, and they make me feel connected to other human beings in this world. My children make me feel hopeful. My husband makes me feel
connected and supported. That’s what I need. To me, it’s very empowering, because I feel like whether
it was my job at FOX, my job at NBC, my job as a lawyer, none of that has power over me. I don’t lie awake at night
worrying about that stuff because it can come and it
can go and I’ll be just fine. I am still here and I have
my people and I have myself, and I believe in what I stand for, and I know who I am because
I’ve been self-reflective and I’ve thought about it. I’ve tried to be better. I think too often we give too much power to the things that drive our ego. I think one of the blessings
of the launch of my show, which has not been without
some bumps in the road, has been the joy I’ve felt
for the past nine weeks, because I think it’s a tell
that my happiness is real. It is connected to the work I’m doing and the people I’ve
surrounded myself with. There’s not some outside
ego-driven thing happening of my power or my reach or my whatever. It isn’t about the money or
the ratings or any of that. It is about the way I feel. The same way they say you
know who your friends are by the way you feel
when you’re around them. I feel like you know whether you’ve made the right life choices by the way you feel when you’re around those choices. When I am around my
NBC family and my show, I feel great. I feel like this. I really do. When I’m around my
husband I feel like this, and it wasn’t always thus. I used to be married to somebody else and it didn’t work out. It was part of settling for more, and he wound up married
to a woman he loves and they have three children too. So it worked out well for both of us. But I think it believes
with an honest gut check. You have to do it. So you can lie to an
many people as you want about your level of happiness
and what works for you, but you must not lie to yourself. – Alright, well Megyn, thank
you so much for the time. It’s been fun. – My pleasure.