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Megyn Kelly, 'Hamilton' song: 2 videos, 1 powerful message about sexual harassment

Before you get too deep into your Monday, take a few moments for two videos:

First, an adaption of a "Hamilton" song, revised to address sexual assault and performed by the Chicago cast of the musical spoof "Spamilton." The actors partnered with It's On Us, a national movement aimed at ending sexual violence, to create "The Room Where It Happened (Consent Edition)."

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In "Hamilton," "The Room Where It Happened" is about a dinner table compromise hashed out behind closed doors by Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

In the "Consent Edition," it's about closed doors at a frat party.

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The man emerges with unprecedented social power. He's a stud. To his belt he adds yet another notch.

The woman emerges with a cautionary tale.

And here's the piece de resistance. No one else was in the room where it happened, the room where it happened, the room where it happened.

No one really knows what was said and done, what was lost and won, was there fear or fun.

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We just assume what had happened.

"We are always looking for new ways to shine a spotlight on these issues," Elvin Bruno Jr., It's On Us campus program director, said in a statement. "And although this video may in some ways be lighthearted, the issues addressed are incredibly serious."

And ever relevant — infuriatingly so.

Which brings us to the second video you should watch.

On Monday morning, Megyn Kelly revealed an email she sent last year to Fox News heads about host Bill O'Reilly's treatment of the women employed there.

Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that O'Reilly struck a $32 million settlement with a former Fox analyst over sexual harassment allegations, only to have his contract renewed by the network.

Kelly worked at Fox from 2004 until earlier this year, when she left for NBC.

"O'Reilly's suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false," Kelly said Monday. "I know because I complained."

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She talked about emailing her bosses, Fox News co-presidents Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy, after O'Reilly brushed away an on-air question about her 2016 memoir, in which she alleges harassment by Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.

She read the email on air Monday:

"Perhaps he didn't realize that his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment on grounds that it will disgrace the company is in part how Fox News got into the decadelong Ailes mess to begin with," she read aloud. "Perhaps it's his own history of harassment with women, which has, as you both know, resulted in payouts to more than one woman, including recently, that blinded him to the folly of saying anything other than, 'I'm just so sorry for the women of this company who never should've had to go through that.'"

It's impossible to imagine O'Reilly saying any such thing. "I'm just so sorry ..." are not words he's likely had much practice uttering.

But enough waiting to hear the right words from these alleged perpetrators. Or their enablers.

Let's listen to the survivors.

Let's listen to Kelly. Let's listen to Lupita Nyong'o, who wrote bravely and powerfully last week about her harrowing experiences with Harvey Weinstein. Let's listen to Variety television critic Maureen Ryan, who broke her silence last week about being assaulted by a TV executive in 2014.

Let's empower the survivors with our ears and our faith. Let's believe them.

"It gives me no pleasure to report such news about my former employer," Kelly said Monday, "which has absolutely made some reforms since all of this went down. But this must stop.

"The abuse of women, the shaming of them, the threatening, the retaliation, the silencing of them after the fact. It has to stop."

And that, as "The Room Where it Happened" creators point out, is on us.

hstevens@chicagotribune.com



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