Megyn Kelly did not have her finest moment this week. On the subject of the “costume police” injecting political correctness on Halloween, Kelly discussed blackface with an all-white panel, and her comments got her in hot water.
“What is racist?” she asked, pointing out how white people who put on blackface and how black people who put on whiteface “get in trouble.” She added that it was “okay” when she was a kid “as long as you were dressing up as a character.”
Did Kelly deserve pushback? Yes. Certainly when it comes to tackling political correctness and more specifically whether or not blackface is appropriate on Halloween, a racially diverse panel would have benefited the discussion. But to say that Kelly was “defending” blackface as many of her critics had claim is really disingenuous.
Are we suppose to believe that a 47-year-old accomplished, well-educated woman like Kelly was completely ignorant of the long, racist history behind blackface? She was trying to ask whether it was still considered racist for a white person to dress up as a black person or character out of respect and homage and not out of mockery. And she failed to make that clear on air. So she offered an apology to her colleagues as well as to her audience the following morning.
But what was more bizarre than Kelly’s gaffe was NBC’s overt sabotage of their own employee. It’s always awkward when a news outlet confronts a blunder of a headline that took place in their backyard and it happens frequently. Usually there’s some sort of damage control in the form of a statement or apology or a swift punishment, and you move on and try to forget that it ever happened. But NBC actually hyped their own controversy.
“NBC Nightly News” dedicated an entire two-minute segment on Kelly’s gaffe, which even invoked old embarrassing remarks she made about Santa Claus being “white” from her days at Fox News. “Late Night” host Seth Meyers and writer Amber Ruffin had a skit mocking her. And more brazenly, within hours of giving her own on-air apology, her colleagues on “The Today Show” piled on, with Savannah Guthrie calling it “uncomfortable,” Craig Melvin calling it “stupid” and indefensible,” and Al Roker full-on shaming her, insisting she “owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country.”
So the big question here is, “Why did NBC publicly shank Megyn Kelly?”
Well, Kelly’s tenure at NBC has been rocky to say the least. Her Sunday magazine show was seen as a flop, her daytime show Megyn Kelly Today hasn’t been the ratings success they were hoping for, and she has been the subject of constant mockery and criticism by anonymous NBC sources in the tabloids. In other words, NBC’s $69 million three-year deal with Kelly may not be paying off. And her suggestion for NBC to hire an “outside investigator” to look into Farrow’s obstructed reporting on Weinstein probably wasn’t popular among her bosses.
Now, NBC News chairman Andy Lack didn’t exactly stick his neck out for his embattled host. In fact, he trashed her Wednesday night. “There is no place on our air or in this workplace” for her remarks at a town hall event, he said.
Kelly is reportedly already on her way out. But perhaps it’s the best thing for her.
Frankly, her daytime talk show held her back, something she’s partly responsible for since she vowed not to go political when her show debuted in fall of 2017. Her fans know she was in her prime at Fox News, hosting “The Kelly File” five nights a week holding politicians on both sides of the aisle accountable. Whether she returns to the network that made her a star or finds a home elsewhere, NBC should cut their losses and let her go instead of bullying her on-camera and backstabbing her off-camera.