Megyn Kelly’s impending arrival at NBC News—an event apparently as momentous, and disruptive, as a 747 landing in a cornfield—has claimed its first casualty.
Tamron Hall, for the past three years a co-host with Al Roker of the Today show’s third hour as well as anchor of her own eponymous 11 a.m. MSNBC program, has abruptly left the broadcast network and its cable channel without so much as a goodbye.
The 46-year-old Hall, whose final appearance was Tuesday on MSNBC, turned down a multimillion-dollar offer to stay, according to a person familiar with the situation, including a significant role on the first two hours of Today, the weekend Nightly News anchor chair, an expanded role on Dateline NBC—essentially Lester Holt’s portfolio before he was named Nightly’s weekday anchor—and the opportunity to continue hosting her MSNBC show.
Hall’s contract reportedly expired on Tuesday, and it was unclear what her next step will be. The Daily Beast has learned that she aggressively tried but failed to make a deal with ABC News, where a place on Good Morning America, which is neck and neck with Today in the ratings, might have made sense.
But there was no room on the couch.
A source at CNN, where CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker had spoken to the 45-year-old Kelly about joining the network, said it seems unlikely that Hall will end up there.
In years past, according to a CNN source, Hall had entered discussions with CNN when her NBC contract was up, but her salary demands were considered too pricey.
Fox News, another possibility suggested by industry observers for Hall, is also not vying for her services. Fox News, of course, is the cable outlet where Kelly had been a prime-time star; ironically, Hall’s agent Ken Lindner used to represent Kelly. Lindner didn’t respond to a voicemail message seeking comment.
Kelly is expected to start appearing on NBC's air in September, after her Fox News contract runs out, after reportedly turning down upwards of $20 million a year from Fox.
Rupert Murdoch publicly announced he was keen to keep her, and urged her to quickly re-up; word is the Murdochs were upset when she instead succumbed to the charms of NBC News Chairman Andy Lack, but happy that Tucker Carlson is beating Kelly's numbers in the 9 p.m. time slot where Kelly had resided.
Kelly will reportedly get her own show at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. on NBC; Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, who currently host the 10 a.m. hour, will stay at their current time slot or move to 9 a.m. depending on Kelly's show. Kelly will also anchor a Sunday night program and contribute to political coverage.
NBC News issued a terse statement late Wednesday, calling Hall “an exceptional journalist.” The statement continued: “[W]e valued and enjoyed her work at Today and MSNBC and hoped that she would decide to stay. We are disappointed that she has chosen to leave, but we wish her all the best."
Hall said in her own statement: "The last 10 years have been beyond anything I could have imagined, and I’m grateful. I’m also very excited about the next chapter. To all my great colleagues, I will miss you and I will be rooting for you.”
An industry source noted that the written exchange, along with Hall’s manner of departure, was highly unusual; given that Hall is one of television news’s highest-profile African-Americans, her unceremonious exit was not a good look for the first day of Black History Month.
With Hall such a significant, and much-liked by viewers, member of the Today ‘family,’ to not have a correspondingly affectionate farewell for her is jarring—and perhaps telling of the circumstances behind her departure.
“It's really weird they didn't let her say good-bye on the air,” said the industry source. “We both know that's not how these things are done when a beloved member of the family departs.”