Former Fox News and Fox Business Network commentator Melissa Francis learned she had been fired in October 2020 after reading “you’ve been canceled” on her Teleprompter moments before her show was to go live, she told Megyn Kelly on Friday.
Francis, who was working from a studio the network had set up at her house during the COVID lockdown, was preparing to do an upcoming newscast when she read on the Teleprompter that she wasn’t needed anymore, she said on the SiriusXM radio program, “The Megyn Kelly Show.”
At the time, she was a co-host of one of Fox’s biggest daytime shows, “Outnumbered,” and had been negotiating for a raise to match the salaries of her male counterparts.
Fox claimed that her sudden disappearance from the airwaves was due to “program changes” related to the election, but her camp reportedly thought otherwise. She and her lawyer, Kevin Mintzer, wouldn’t confirm at the time that she had filed a gender-based pay discrimination claim against the network, as the LA Times reported in 2020.
Francis confessed that she and Fox hadn’t wrapped things up “amicably,” explaining to Kelly the sordid details: While preparing to do her 4 p.m. show on what ended up being her final day, Francis was notified by Mintzer that the network was letting her go.
“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 told Kelly.
Her at-home studio, she explained, was controlled remotely by Fox, so she was startled when the Teleprompter delivered the message, “You’ve been canceled,” instead of her script.
“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, this is how we’re doing this. Huh? Wow,’” she recalled. “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 said.
Her lawyer stated that the abrupt cancellation was “100%” due to her pay dispute. “Those claims in my view, 100% led to her being taken off the air… without question,” he told Kelly.
Francis took the issue to the New York Department of Labor, who announced in December of 2021 that they would pursue an investigation “over [her] gender discrimination and retaliation complaints.” While Francis did not confirm the settlement herself, the Washington Post reported in June that she and Fox had reached a $15 million settlement.
A spokesperson for Fox News issued the following statement on the issue at the time. “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.”