Megyn Kelly escalated her public feud with NBC News on Wednesday, [with her lawyer] accusing the network of leaking damaging information about her ongoing exit negotiations.
The anchor has been off the air since last Thursday following a segment where she asked why children could not dress in blackface for Halloween. The remarks generated a firestorm and forced her off the third hour of the Today show where she anchored solo. NBC News announced last week that Kelly’s daily show would not be returning to the air, and began serious negotiations over her departure from the network to leave her three-year contract reportedly worth $69 million.
Kelly’s camp believes that NBC or allies of the network are responsible for multiple stories in national tabloids claiming that the anchor is seeking massive payouts and bonuses in exchange for agreeing to leave the network and signing a confidentiality agreement.
On Wednesday, Kelly’s lawyer Bryan Freedman claimed that the anchor’s camp had attempted to keep her exit discussions confidential, and accused the network of allowing false and disparaging stories to run in outlets about the terms of her impending departure.
“NBC News is allowing the media to run with completely false and irresponsible reports that disparage Megyn by erroneously claiming she has ever asked for more money than her contract requires,” Freedman said in a statement.
Freedman also called on NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke to publicly rebuke stories that reflect negatively on Kelly, saying that Burke’s subordinate, NBC News chairman Andy Lack, could not control the leaks coming out of 30 Rock about her.
“If NBC News is not the source then they have a responsibility as a news division to correct these false claims,” Freedman said. “Or are they somehow attempting to use these fabrications for some fictitious advantage in the discussions we’re having? If Andy Lack has lost control, my hope would be that Steve Burke can step in and not permit blatant lies about our discussions to remain uncorrected."
A spokesperson for Steve Burke did not return a request for comment, but a person close to Burke said Lack had the CEO’s “full confidence.”
An NBCUniversal insider suspected the stories are coming from inside 30 Rock.
"NBC have gone to war with Megyn over the last several days. The constant flood of leaks to The Daily Mail, Page Six and TMZ have NBC's fingerprints all over them," the insider said.
In a brief statement released just minutes later, the network shot back that Freedman was leaking information about the negotiations.
“Unlike Mr. Freedman, who has repeatedly commented to the media throughout the negotiations, we respect the confidentiality of the process, and will have no comment until it reaches its conclusion,” an NBC News spokesperson said in an email.
A person close to Kelly pointed out that she still works there, despite the break-up process.
“There’s something called good faith: when you have lies being printed about a current employee the right thing for NBC to do is to fix them,” the person said.
Since last week, the two parties have been locked in an intense private negotiation that has spilled out in public. While Kelly has been reportedly hesitant to sign a non-disparagement agreement, a series of stories reflecting negatively on the departing anchor have been published in TMZ, Page Six, and The Daily Mail.
Though she has remained mum since disappearing from the air last week, Kelly released a series of tweets Wednesday taking aim at The Daily Mail, which published a story claiming she wanted $10 million in addition to the millions remaining in her contract.
Kelly herself shared several tweets criticizing The Daily Mail for the behavior of its paparazzi stationed outside of her home, whom she said trailed her kids to school.