Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly revealed Thursday that she watched “Bombshell” with several other former Fox News staffers depicted in the film, which chronicles allegations of sexual harassment, and the culture of secrecy surrounding them, involving the network’s founder Roger Ailes.
In a YouTube clip, Kelly recounted that Ailes asked her to “twirl,” an “infamous” tactic he used to harass and demean women at the network by assessing their physical appearance.
It features in an excruciating scene in the film, when Ailes (John Lithgow) asks Margot Robbie — playing a fictional Fox News producer who is a composite of several real-life Fox News staffers — to twirl and lift up her dress to see her legs, all while meeting with her about her career plans.
“I was asked to do the spin, and God help me I did it,” Kelly said, recalling how “demeaning” it was.
“I remember feeling like, I put myself through school, I was offered partnership at Jones Day. I argued before federal courts of appeal all over the nation, I came here, I’m covering the United States Supreme Court, I graduated with honors from all of my programs. And now he wants me to twirl. And I did it,” she said. “If you don’t get how demeaning that is, I can’t help you.”
Kelly, who has said she was not involved in the film or actor Charlize Theron’s uncanny portrayal of her, had previously said she was reluctant to view it. But on Thursday, she tweeted that she “wanted the women who lived it to have the last word.”
Kelly watched “Bombshell” with former Fox News staffers Rudi Bakhtiar and Julie Zann, who both spoke out against Ailes for allegedly sexually harassing them, and Juliet Huddy, who claimed former host Bill O’Reilly sexually harassed her. They were also joined by Kelly’s husband Doug, who is played by Mark Duplass in the film.
“Everyone would tell you: ‘Don’t complain about sexual harassment because you’ll lose your job,’” Bakhtiar, who said she was fired after she spoke out, recalled to Kelly.
“He walked away with zillions of dollars, and I lost my house,” Huddy said of the network settling her allegations against O’Reilly.
Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, played by Nicole Kidman in the film, has not been able to speak in detail about her allegations or be involved in the film because she signed a nondisclosure agreement as part of a settlement with the network. (Carlson’s NDA features prominently in “Bombshell.”)
The film also touches on some of Kelly’s most infamous on-air moments, including racist comments she made about Santa Claus. Some reviews of the film have criticized it for glossing over Kelly’s history of offensive statements, as well as not adequately exploring the toxicity of the network’s content.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.