Remember Melissa Francis, the Fox News contributor who regularly appeared on Fox News’ “Outnumbered” up until October of 2020, when she suddenly disappeared from the network?
A couple weeks after her disappearance, Fox News finally issued a statement essentially announcing that she’d been removed from air because of some obscure “programming changes.”
“Fox News Media regularly considers programming changes, including to its daytime lineup, and will launch new formats as appropriate after the election. These changes are being made independent of any other ongoing matter,” the network said at the time.
Years later, Francis and her lawyer are now telling another side of the story — and it’s a doozy.
Speaking with popular podcaster and former Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Friday, Francis said that she’d been straight-up fired in October of 2020.
In addition, she revealed that her termination came shortly after she complained to the network’s executives about her pay allegedly not being commensurate with that of her male peers.
Her attorney, Kevin Mintzer, believes this is the real reason for her termination.
“Those claims in my view, 100 percent led to her being taken off the air — because of the internal complaint that she made and what she did to pursue that. Without question,” he told Kelly.
Kelly, who left the network in 2016 for NBC, offered her personal experience.
“Let me ask you a question in Fox’s defense. They’re not here. And this is based on my own personal experience. As you know, I was a female in the primetime lineup of Fox and before that in the midday lineup and before that, in the morning lineup,” she said.
“And I will say of my own personal experience was that they were always very generous. And this is during the Roger era. And my final contract was offered to me by the Murdochs, not Roger, but it was always very generous,” she added. “And I actually know for a fact that I was making more than most of my male colleagues, and that my last contract that was offered to me was definitely bigger even than [Bill] O’Reilly’s, because as soon as I left, he went and begged them for it, and they gave it to him and he wouldn’t last much longer. But in my experience with them was my being a woman was in no way an impediment to them paying me very, very well.”
According to Francis, she learned of her termination one day while filming from home because of COVID.
She said that, despite the ratings for her various shows being “through the roof,” Mintzer got a call announcing that it was over for her.
The call came only moments before she was about to appear on air.
— Melissa Francis (@MelissaAFrancis) September 23, 2022
“He got a call and he said that my services were no longer needed on the air and I said, ‘Well, they can’t mean the show in 10 minutes because we all know you can’t get an anchor in the chair that quickly.’ You know, I’m gonna just go over and sit in my living room for my second show. And then if they want me not on tomorrow, whatever it is, that’s fine,” she recalled to Kelly.
“So the lights go on. I have a robotic camera, so I don’t have the power to turn any of it on and off. That’s done from the studio. So the lights come on, the teleprompter comes on. I went over. I sat down. I clicked on my mic. I checked in. We talked to the producers. We did the whole thing.”
She was, in other words, fully ready to film, when suddenly the unthinkable happened.
“I’m about to go. And it comes up in the prompter, ‘You’ve been canceled.’ And I said, ‘What what’s going on?’ And all of a sudden, everything went dead in my living room. Just lights out. Everything dead. And I was like, ‘Wow, OK. This is how we’re doing this, huh? Wow,” she explained.
“I talked to the show staff afterward, and they were like, ‘We weren’t told anything. We have no idea what happened.’ And they were left scrambling. I mean, all of a sudden this poor show team had no idea, and they just yanked the electricity on their anchor.”
Francis then disappeared from the limelight until late 2021, when The Daily Beast reported that the New York State Department of Labor was investigating Fox News “over gender discrimination and retaliation complaints made by former host Melissa Francis, who exited the conservative cable network last year amid a pay dispute.”
EXCLUSIVE: The New York State Department of Labor is investigating Fox News over gender discrimination and retaliation complaints made by former host Melissa Francis. https://t.co/AESyZS0lGN pic.twitter.com/I1HudW6IHq
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) December 9, 2021
“Ms. Francis filed a charge with the New York State Department of Labor because Fox News has not changed and continues to discriminate and retaliate against women, including those who seek equal pay for equal work,” Mintzer told the left-wing outlet at the time.
Now fast-forward to this past summer, when The Washington Post reported that she’d reached a settlement with Fox News.
“Fox News agreed to a roughly $15 million settlement with a female former host who complained about gender-based pay disparities at the cable news network,” The Washington Post reported in June, referencing Francis.
“Francis and her attorney declined to comment on the settlement, which has not been previously reported. Francis separately filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Labor claiming that Fox retaliated against her after she pointed out pay disparities at the network.”
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) June 20, 2022
Yet in a statement, Fox News denied that it’d done anything wrong.
“We parted ways with Melissa Francis over a year and a half ago and her allegations were entirely without merit. We have also fully cooperated with the New York State Department of Labor’s investigation and look forward to the completion of this matter,” a network spokesperson told the Post.
An explanation was not provided for why it’s settled, though it’s known that sometimes people and entities settle lawsuits even if they’re innocent to avoid the hassle of having to go through tedious litigation.
As of Saturday morning, Fox News had not yet responded to Francis’ latest accusation — that she was unceremoniously fired only moments before going on air.
**Editor’s Note: This post was updated to include Megyn Kelly’s comments about her personal experience.
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