"Megyn has earned a better time period; she will be in our prime-time lineup," Ailes said Thursday during a "fireside chat" with Fox News Managing Editor Neil Cavuto during an investor conference for parent company
But Ailes stopped short of saying what time period Kelly, who will be returning from maternity leave, would occupy in the prominent 8 to 11 p.m. prime-time programming block or who she might replace.
Earlier in the day, the Drudge Report speculated that Kelly would unseat Sean Hannity in
Ailes declined to confirm the report, saying that's "a rumor at the moment."
"I must quickly say that all of our stars will be back," Ailes said. "We have new deals with Hannity and Greta [Van Susteren] and Shep [Smith]. ...I think you will see some changes that are good."
Ailes called Smith "the premier newsman in the country," and he said Van Susteren is "a great interviewer, a tireless worker."
"Hannity is a brand who many of our viewers love and want to see, and he's probably the nicest guy in the building," Ailes said. "The difference between Hannity and everyone else [at rival networks] is that he's a conservative but he has liberals on every night to argue with."
"We have a great roster of talent," Ailes said. "I am making a few minor changes, but since Fox News Channel came on,
Cavuto joked that the only headliner that Ailes didn't mention was Bill O'Reilly. Said Cavuto, "Sounds to me like O'Reilly is gone."
"Yup, he's finished," Ailes joked. "No, I'm just kidding, don't let that out. ... No one is leaving."
Ailes also declined to say when he might step down, indicating that he had about three years left on his employment deal. Besides, the 73-year-old executive has a few goals to fulfill.
"I want to save democracy for the next generation, and I want to prove that a fat guy can get to 100," Ailes said. "And I would like to be on `Dancing with the Stars.' "
But that's down the road. "My near-term plans are to put my competitors out of business completely," Ailes said.