NEW YORK (AP) — Ask Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly how her new prime-time program will differ from the edgy news show she had been hosting in the afternoon and she says that "it's going to be dark out."
The joke has a serious point. Don't expect Kelly to turn into a fire-breathing partisan because she has more exclusive real estate.
"If you watch O'Reilly, you hear a lot about what Bill O'Reilly thinks," she said. "Sean Hannity, same thing. But you're not going to hear what I think."
"The Kelly File" is the linchpin to the first overhaul of Fox's prime-time lineup since 2002, a century in television time. Starting Monday, Hannity moves back an hour to 10 p.m. to make room for Kelly at 9, Greta Van Susteren shifts to 7 p.m. and Shepard Smith becomes a roving news anchor making appearances throughout the evening.
At the time of the last schedule change, when Van Susteren moved to Fox from CNN, the now 42-year-old Kelly was an unhappy Washington lawyer. She began reporting news for a local Washington station on weekends in 2003. A year after that, she was noticed and hired by Fox News chief Roger Ailes.
She cut her maternity leave short following the July 23 birth of her third child so "The Kelly File" could start Oct. 7, the 17th anniversary of the Fox News launch.
Kelly said she hasn't been pressured to make changes for the move into the evening, where a larger audience is usually available. Her afternoon show averaged 1.2 million viewers a day before her maternity leave, while Hannity reached 1.9 million at 9 p.m.
"I've never wanted to be an opinion host, and Roger Ailes hasn't wanted me to be an opinion host," she said. "I don't think I'd be very successful anyway. I'm not an ideologue, and I think you have to be successful in a prime-time opinion-based show. I think I'm too moderate and reasonable."
Kelly has cultivated an image of speaking up in ways that run counter to Fox's image. She marched off the set on Election Night to interview Fox's numbers guy, minimizing the embarrassment when Karl Rove questioned the declaration that President Barack Obama had won re-election. Her legal training helped Fox correct, quicker than rivals, an initially wrong report on the U.S. Supreme Court's health care decision. She expressed disgust at a man's suggestion that children of working mothers don't fare as well as children with stay-at-home moms.