Former Fox News hosts Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly were no doubt booked on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Late Night with Seth Meyers before the latest revelations about Bill O’Reilly’s history of sexual harassment settlements became public. But after that news broke over the weekend, their back-to-back appearances Wednesday night all of a sudden got a lot more interesting.
Both Carlson and Kelly left Fox News after accusing their former boss, the late Roger Ailes, of sexual harassment. This week, O’Reilly used his one-time friendly relationships with his former colleagues as a way to defend his own reputation. He even went so far as to post personal notes from the two women on his website, hand-drawn hearts and all.
Restrained from directly discussing her experience at Fox and without a TV platform to do so in the first place, Carlson has been limited in what she can say on the matter. She did, however, post this curt rejoinder to O’Reilly on Twitter:
By the time Carlson sat down with Colbert on Wednesday night to discuss her new book, Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back, she was ready to say as much as she legally could about everything she went through.
“One of the nice things doing this show now, after doing my old show for 10 years in character, is that I get to sit down and have nice conversations with people I made so many jokes about in the old days,” Colbert said. “You absolutely were and are fierce in what you have done,” he added.
“I mean, it’s an excruciating choice for any woman to make this kind of decision, because before the environment of what you’re in right now you’re automatically called a liar, not to be believed, worse,” Carlson said of her decision to accuse Ailes. “Thank god more women are being fierce and they have found the courage from within and the bravery to come forward and say, ‘Me too.’ And they’re saying they’re not going to put up with this crap anymore.”
Now that Harvey Weinstein, Ailes, O’Reilly and others have been taken down by accusations, Colbert wanted to know if Carlson believes the women who have alleged similar behavior by President Donald Trump. She said she believes People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff, who tells her story of Trump’s alleged sexual assault on her in Carlson’s book. “Those stories went away pretty quickly,” she said, but now she sees the culture changing.
Later, Colbert pressed Carlson to explain how she, as a “deeply intelligent, well-educated woman” ended up seeming so “fiercely anti-intellectual” in her role on Fox & Friends.
“To the extent that people can be brainwashed within corporate cultures and become part of a cult, you know, that can happen to people,” Carlson said, speaking in general terms to avoid breaking her non-disclosure agreement.
Unlike Carlson, Kelly has a whole hour on NBC every morning to say just about whatever she wants to in regards to Fox’s sexual harassment problem. And when O’Reilly claimed in an interview that no one at Fox had ever filed a complaint against him, Kelly was quick to correct the record.
“O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false,” Kelly told her viewers Monday morning. “I know because I complained.” She later shared in full the email she sent to her Fox News bosses in November 2016, which ended with the line, “You’ve got a hell of a guy hosting that 8pm hour.”
Seth Meyers commended Kelly for using her daytime platform to speak out against O’Reilly. She said it was the combination of O’Reilly’s claim about never having a complaint against him and the enormous $32 million settlement that prompted her to address it.
“Litigations happen all the time, a lot of them are nonsense and you pay some small amount to make them go away,” Kelly, a former lawyer, said. “$32 million is a different story.” She did not understand how Fox News could not know about the settlement before renewing his contract for $25 million per year. “Why wouldn’t you ask before you bring this man back in the workplace and unleash him on the workforce?” she asked.
“It was time to tell that story,” Kelly continued. “I take no pleasure in, you know, discussing Fox News in that way because I had a lot of good years there and they’re not all bad. They’ve got some great people. He is not one of them.”
As for the personal notes that O’Reilly shared on his website, Kelly added, “It’s right out of the playbook of a lot of these guys. I mean, ask yourselves, who keeps thank you notes from nine years earlier and puts them in a file just in case they need them, right?”