So Megyn Kelly expressed racist views on NBC. Is anyone surprised?
Certainly her employers can’t claim this caught them off guard. NBC knew what it was getting when it hired Kelly away from Fox News, where her defense of blackface for Halloween costumes wouldn’t have caused anyone to blink.
Yes, blackface. And, according to multiple reports, two days later Kelly was out at NBC.
(NBC has confirmed that she won’t return to host the third hour of “Today”; reportedly, her lawyers are negotiating her exit from the network.)
On Tuesday’s edition of “Megyn Kelly Today,” the host went off on how “political correctness has gone amok” and the “fashion police are cracking down” on costumes.
"But what is racist?” Kelly asked. “Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”
Geez, did she grow up in the Antebellum South?
If you genuinely don’t think that blackface is racist, then — in the words of Jeff Foxworthy — you might be a redneck. You also might be a racist.
Her statement was shocking, but not surprising. This is, after all, the person who used that same outrage to stoke racial divisions when she was at Fox News.
“For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white,” she said, adding, “Jesus was a white man, too.”
That made headlines, but it was considerably less consequential than a lot of Kelly’s other statements at Fox News, where she had a history of racially charged behavior. There’s a long list of her comments about Black Lives Matter, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and on and on.
I used to think that maybe Kelly was playing a role at the Fox News Channel. Surely, she couldn’t be that insensitive. That overtly racist.
Her defense of blackface forced me to rethink.
Under pressure, Kelly emailed her NBC colleagues to apologize. “Today is one of those days where listening carefully to other points of view, including from friends and colleagues, is leading me to rethink my own views,” she wrote in the email, which was strategically “leaked” to the press.
Kelly apologized on air a day later. “I was wrong, and I am sorry,” she said, adding “that given the history of blackface being used in awful ways by racists in this country, It is not OK for that to be part of any costume, Halloween or otherwise.”
(Before any of you email me and tell me that blackface is OK, re-read that last paragraph.)
Kelly followed that with a damage-control discussion about the issue so she could appear contrite.
She got a standing ovation from her studio audience; once I hear her apologize for all those things she said on Fox News, it will be easier to believe she wasn’t just trying to save her job at NBC.
C’mon, what’s the only kind of person who, in 2018, didn’t already know that blackface is wrong?
Her on-air apology came after “NBC Nightly News” reported on Tuesday’s incident; after Craig Melvin said on “Today” that those defending Kelly’s comments are “just as ignorant, as racist as [Kelly’s] statement itself,” and Al Roker said Kelly “owes a bigger apology to folks of color across the country.”
At a meeting of employees, NBC News chairman Andy Lack said, “There is no other way to put this, but I condemn those remarks. There is no place on our air or in this workplace for them. Very unfortunate.”
The knives were out for Kelly at NBC. At Fox News, she would have been applauded.
When NBC hired Kelly, there were widespread reports that her new colleagues weren’t exactly thrilled. Not just because she signed a reported three-year, $69 million deal — but also because of all the baggage she was bringing with her.
Reportedly, she had been talking to NBC News execs about a different role at the network before the blackface comments; now it appears she will have no role at all.
Given her history of racial insensitivity — to put it mildly — there would seem to be only one logical place for Kelly to end up. And she burned her bridges to Fox News.