Unemployed television star Megyn Kelly got a career boost on Wednesday—or maybe just a morale boost—from her former primetime cable rival Piers Morgan, who told The Daily Beast that he would “love to work with her one day.”
The 54-year-old co-anchor of the ITV breakfast program Good Morning Britain—whose long-canceled CNN show briefly aired opposite Fox News’ The Kelly File at 9 p.m. before she crushed it in the ratings—responded the day after the fired host of NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today showered him with social media praise.
“[A]ll I would say is that Megyn’s always been one of my favourite broadcasters—fearless, smart, provocative and well-informed,” Morgan declared, returning the favor in an email after Kelly raved on Twitter about his Daily Mail column arguing that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, better known as Harry and Meghan, should respect the press’s legitimate interest in their new baby and patch up their feud with William and Kate.
In his email to The Daily Beast, Morgan said: “I always wanted her as my lede-in at CNN, and I know conversations were had to try to make that happen but sadly didn’t come to anything. I’d love to work with her one day if the opportunity ever arose—I’m sure we’d have a lot of fun on air together, and zero prisoners would be taken…”
In a subsequent email, Morgan declined to provide details of his dream TV show with Kelly, including whether he’d consider returning to the United States or luring her to London in order to team up with her.
“I don’t want to get into any specifics,” he wrote. “I’ll just leave it with my quote…You can then speculate to your heart’s content.”
The 48-year-old Kelly lost her job last October (but kept the $69 million that her three-year contract reportedly comprised) after boldly blurting an apparent endorsement of Halloween costume blackface on her morning show and weathering a barrage of condemnation both inside and outside NBC News—especially from prominent African-American colleagues like Al Roker and Craig Melvin.
Kelly has not worked since and only recently has begun to consider her career options in an unforgiving environment in which major media outlets—including Fox News—are unlikely to hire her, and second-tier, right-leaning media operations such as One America News Network and Newsmax can hardly offer the sort of compensation to which she has grown accustomed.
Kelly didn’t respond to a request for a response to Morgan’s comments. Likewise, CNN didn’t respond, at least not officially, to a request for comment concerning Morgan’s claim that CNN executives attempted to recruit Kelly years ago to take over the 8 p.m. slot occupied then and now by Anderson Cooper.
Morgan has repeatedly derided Cooper since his CNN show was killed in March 2014 after three years of anemic ratings—a small fraction of Kelly’s average 2.5 million viewers, and less than half the size of Rachel Maddow’s audience at the time on MSNBC.
Appearing on Kelly’s Fox News show nine months after being canceled, Morgan called Cooper “a pretty big diva” and mocked him for the careful way he allegedly combs his hair. Morgan, who seemed to enjoy a bantering on-air flirtation with Kelly, also admitted that she annihilated him in the Nielsens after he’d challenged her on Twitter to “bring it on.”
“Let’s just kill the elephant in the room,” Morgan said, noting that “the mere fact that I’m now a guest on your show indicates that you brought it.”
“Well, thank you very much for being such a gracious loser,” Kelly laughingly retorted.
Morgan continually blamed Cooper for his American television demise, at one point writing in The Hollywood Reporter: “I suggested to [CNN Worldwide President] Jeff [Zucker] that Megyn Kelly would be a perfect primetime star for CNN — young, beautiful, slick, razor smart, bursting with opinions, humor and authority…I was convinced she’d give me a much better lead-in than Anderson Cooper, who for all his qualities as a reporter is stiff in a studio and gets annihilated in the ratings every night by [Bill] O’Reilly.”
A CNN insider was dubious of Morgan’s claims.
“That was Piers saying he needed somebody who’s more fiery [as his lead-in], and they were like, ‘OK, Talent, sure we’ll talk to her,’ and then he walked out of the room and they rolled their eyes, and were like, ‘yeah, we’re not gonna be moving Anderson to accommodate you,” said the CNN insider, who was privy to the discussions at the time. “Of course, every talent who’s a [ratings] disaster says “It’s my lead-in.’ ”