Melissa Francis Recalls Shocking Story of Being Fired From Fox News Through Teleprompter: ‘You’ve Been Canceled’
In October 2020, Melissa Francis, a popular host on both Fox News and Fox Business, seemingly disappeared from the airwaves.
As co-host of one of the network’s biggest shows, Outnumbered, Francis wasn’t seen on her regular time slots for weeks until in late October 2020 it was announced that, after nine years with the company, she had been pushed out of the network.
At the time, Fox cited “program changes” as the reason Francis was gone. They released a statement citing ongoing changes for the daytime lineup:
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.
Francis has long stayed silent about the precise details surrounding her departure. But Friday, she was finally able to share her story with former Fox colleague, Megyn Kelly.
On the Friday episode of the SiriusXM radio program The Megyn Kelly Show, Francis and her lawyer Kevin Mintzer were featured to discuss the story.
During contract negotiations in 2020, Francis claimed that she had been trying to increase her salary to be comparable to her male counterparts at the network.
Since she hosted a show on both Fox News and Fox Business and was a co-host of one of the most highly-rated shows on the network, she considered it reasonable to request a pay increase.
But to her shock, her discussions fell on deaf ears.
During the interview, she cited Dianne Brandi, a once popular Fox executive, as the leader of her salary negotiations. Francis was under the assumption that Brandi was no longer employed at the company and was shocked to be told that she would be conducting the meeting.
Brandi took a voluntary leave of absence from running the Legal department at Fox in 2017 following the fallout of sexual harassment allegations made by numerous hosts against Fox founder Roger Ailes.
However, Brandi quietly remained with the network in a different capacity.
Francis alleges to have brought forth information that showed the network was not paying their female employees adequately.
She reveals that both Brandi and the HR department at Fox failed to address the issues regarding the pay gap.
Back in late October 2020, it was rumored that Francis had then filed a gender-based pay discrimination claim that was in arbitration with Fox regarding the matter.
During Friday’s interview, Kelly asked Francis’ lawyer about the arbitration, to which he said he could not comment.
“Let me just ask you for — just for the record. Did Melissa file an arbitration against Fox?” Kelly asked.
“We’re not able to talk about that,” Mintzer replied.
Kelly shifted the conversation back to Francis to discuss what happened next.
“So did everything wrap up amicably where then somebody called you and said, ‘We’ve seen the light, and here’s a huge raise to make things better,'” Kelly asked.
“That’s unfortunately not what happened,” Francis said. “I pursued the path that I am supposed to follow. As I pursued this — in the meantime, you have to remember it was Covid. They built a studio in my home. I was doing the noon show and the four o’clock show from home, I was on every night. You know, things — life was continuing as normal.”
Francis’ lawyer clarified that during this time she was still under her original contract with Fox and had yet to sign a “new contract.”
Francis recalled that one day, despite the ratings for her shows being “through the roof,” her lawyer got a call from Fox letting him know that her time with the network was over.
“They called out of the blue — called Kevin and let him know that I — my on-air services were no longer needed,” Francis said.
She continued, saying, “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.”
Francis explained that the in-home studio Fox had designed for her was operated remotely from their studios, right down to the lighting, cameras, and prompter.
“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 recalled.
Francis then explains that as the producer was in her ear, counting her down to the start of the show, the teleprompter in front of her suddenly changed.
“I’m about to go. And it comes up in the prompter, ‘You’ve been canceled’ and I said, ‘What what’s going on?'” Francis recalled.
“And all of a sudden, everything went dead in my living room, just lights out, everything dead. And I was like, ‘Wow, okay. This is, this is how we’re doing this. Huh? Wow,'” she added.
“I talked to the show staff afterward and they were like, ‘We had — 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 said.
She attempted to take a picture of the teleprompter screen but was not able to capture it before it faded. To this day, Francis says, she has no idea who was responsible for it.
Francis’ lawyer says he firmly believes that her complaint regarding the gender pay gap led to her being removed.
“Those claims in my view, 100% led to her being taken off the air,” he told Kelly. “Because of the complaint — internal complaint that she made and what she did to pursue that — without question.”
Kelly, a former Fox News anchor, shared her experience with the network, saying, “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 O’Reilly’s.” Mediaite reported in 2017 Fox offered Kelly $25 million a year for four years.
As a result, the New York Department of Labor announced in December of 2021, that they would pursue an investigation “over gender discrimination and retaliation complaints made by” Francis.
“They’re looking specifically, Megyn, at the retaliation aspects of this because the — based on what we described, it was so outrageous and so clear that it warrants government looking at it, which they are. And I think, the results of that will, will speak for themselves, eventually,” Mintzer said.
In June of 2022, it was reported by the Washington Post that Francis received a settlement of $15 million from Fox as a result of the pay gap complaint.
Kelly asked about this report but Francis’ lawyer said they were not allowed to comment on the subject.
In a statement released over the summer, a spokesperson for Fox News commented: “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.”
Listen above via SiriusXM’s The Megyn Kelly Show.
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