Jenna Lee has announced that she is leaving Fox News Channel. “It’s time for a change,” she said, while on the air, “I have chosen to leave Fox News. It’s been an honor and a true privilege to serve as your anchor.” Lee, who joined Fox News as a business reporter in 2007, has yet to announce what her future plans are, but she did tease that she has some “big ideas” in mind moving forward. Watch the video of her announcement above.
In the wake of this decision, many many be wondering where Lee started her career, or who will replace her as the anchor for Happening Now opposite Jon Scott. For the answers to these questions, and several more, here are five fast facts you need to know about Jenna Lee and her decision to leave Fox News.
1. She Joined the Fox Network In 2007
Born and raised in San Francisco, Lee attended The University of California in Santa Barbara, where she graduated with a B.A. in English and global studies in 2002. She later attended the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she earned an M.A. in 2005. Within two years, Lee was hired by Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes to be the co-anchor of the daily show Fox Business Morning opposite Nicole Petallides.
Lee would bounce around between Fox shows during this time, lending her talents to Money for Breakfast and Imus in the Morning as well as Fox Business Morning. She subsequently left the Fox Business Network in 2010 and joined its parent station, Fox News Channel, where she replaced Jane Skinner as the co-anchor of Happening Now. In doing so, Lee became the first television personality to successfully make the jump between stations. She remained with Happening Now until her recent announcement.
2. She Was Married In 2011
Lee married Lt. Commander Leif Babin in 2011, though, according to The New York Times, they had crossed paths several years earlier. Times reports that the couple met at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York in 2008, and were both attending the Navy SEAL Warrior Fund dinner, whey they were serendipitously seated at Table 21. They met, agreed to go on a date, and, as Lee recalled, “Within the first two minutes of talking at the bar, I thought to myself, ‘This is different, this guy is special.” She and Babin would be married in the chapel of the Old Glory Ranch in Wimberley, Texas three years later. You can watch footage from the ceremony below.
Babin served as the executive officer of a Navy SEAL team in San Diego. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. and was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart for his services during the war in Iraq in 2006.
In the New York Times piece, Lee also spoke on the potential conflict of interests of reporting on the war and being married to a former Navy SEAL: “I was worried initially how some might be critical of my relationship with Leif, how they might view it as skewing my ability to report on the war or the military. But being in love with someone who is willing to die for their country actually taught me so much more than I ever thought. It made me a better journalist.” Lee and Babin have two children together: Trace and Liberty Josephine.
3. She Was In A Feud With Conan O’Brien In 2015
Comedian Conan O’Brien stirred up controversy in 2015, when he did a bit on failed coffee table books, including one called Fox News Anchor or Porn Star? The joke book included, of all people, a photo of Lee on the cover, who failed to see the humor in O’Brien’s bit, and put out a response on her Facebook page: “[A]s a wife, and a new mom, this trashy comment is not only inappropriate, it’s clearly ridiculous. And not even funny! I’m also someone’s daughter — and it’s for the benefit of young girls, like Conan’s daughter Neve, who are growing up in a world where porn references to successful, educated women are somehow considered “funny” and appropriate, even when made by fathers, that I think we need to discuss this.” Watch the Conan clip below.
Lee also used the situation to make a larger statement regarding female anchors on television:
“In fact, Conan brings up a sad truth. Some women feel they need to dress and look like porn stars to make it on TV. I wonder where they get that idea? Could it be that the more provocative and sexy their social media photos are, the more followers they get? Maybe they don’t care about their “traditional career” – the Twitter followers are enough. But personally, it makes me extremely sad to see so many talented women tarted-up because they feel like thats what they need to do to be successful.”
Lee later addressed the situation on the air, where she said that O’Brien didn’t owe her an apology: “He was trying to be funny. He failed, clearly. A lot of the viewers that weighed in also thought it wasn’t really that funny. But I think my point has been received very well.”
4. She Has A Net Worth of $5 Million
Lee’s experience as an anchor, coupled with her exposure during major cases, has resulted in her accumulating an estimated net worth of $5 million. Granted, a good chunk of it was through her Fox News salary, which, according to Cow Net Worth, was an estimated $1,200,00 per year, but Lee has parlayed her career as an anchor into more of a recognizable status. She also edited the manuscript for Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win, which was co-written by her husband Babin. The book would go on to become a New York Times Bestseller in 2015.
In terms of Lee’s lifestyle, Lee and Babin currently reside in West Liberty, Ohio. According to Finapp, they purchased their home for $1.1 million in 2012, and own two cars, a BMW and a Ford. The website also etches out $2.4 million of this net worth to personal investments, which, given her recent decision to leave her main source of income, Fox News, seems especially important at this time. It is unclear how much her net worth will dip in the coming year.
In her personal life, Lee, a former college softball player, remains active and has participated in Olympic distance triathlons.
5. No Replacement Anchor Has Been Named
Given that Lee just announced her plans to leave Fox News, it goes without saying that Happening Now has yet to find a replacement anchor. “This was a difficult decision for me,” she said in a separate statement, “And I’m very grateful for the opportunities that the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network have afforded me.” Jay Wallace, Fox’s President of News, also released a statement saying “We are grateful for Jenna’s many contributions to Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network throughout her 10 years here. She is a talented journalist and we wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors.”
In her decade with Fox News, Lee covered several infamous stories, including the Boston Marathon bombing, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, the inauguration of Pope Francis, and the death of Osama Bin Laden. In the midst of her transition to Happening Now in 2011, Lee also covered the “Gilgo Killer,” a serial killer in Long Island, New York.