Blackface comments cause backlash
(Editor’s Note: Updated at 1:00 p.m. with new information.)
By the time this is published, Megan Kelly Today is likely to be over.
NBC is mulling over several options from the woman they poached from Fox News in January 2017 for $69 million after she made some controversial comments on Tuesday’s show.
During a segment on Halloween costumes, Kelly defended the use of blackface, a racist tradition dating back to the 1800s being used in minstrel shows. In the segment featuring an all-white panel, Kelly questioned whether white people using blackface was racist or insensitive and said blackface was acceptable when she was a kid (I am almost the same age as Kelly, and let me assure you it was not.) Numerous movies and cartoons from the 1930s through the 1950s were often filled with racial stereotypes featuring characters in blackface, notably Tom and Jerry.
After the inevitable social media outrage – and criticism from within the NBC news organization, Kelly sent an internal e-mail to everyone apologizing for her comments, saying she didn’t understand the implications of using blackface. The story was covered by NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and also was mentioned on NBC-owned WMAQ-TV’s local newscasts.
NBC News president Andy Lack – who had a hand in hiring Kelly – condemned her comments at an employee gathering Wednesday. While some reports are saying Kelly’s show is likely to wind down by the end of the current television season (which is a LONG eleven months away), others are saying it could exit the air as soon as next week. People is reporting Megan Kelly Today was canceled, but no official announcement has been made from NBC News itself. An NBC spokeperson said Kelly’s show would be in reruns both Thursday and Friday.
Kelly’s daily program has struggled since its premiere thirteen months ago with the show’s premiere critically panned and thus far, scoring lower ratings in the 9 a.m. hour than the previous Today show team of Al Roker and Tamron Hall.
In Chicago, Megan Kelly Today airs at 9 a.m. and is often outdrawn locally by WGN’s morning newscast and WLS-TV’s Live With Kelly (Ripa) and Ryan. In Milwaukee, NBC affiliate WTMJ delays Kelly Today an hour to accommodate a local morning talk show and faces The View on ABC affiliate WISN, The Price Is Right on CBS affiliate WDJT and Wendy Williams on Fox affiliate WITI.
The move to hire Kelly away from Fox News came with a lot of risk as Kelly wanted to move away from political programming and into more lifestyle issues. While at Fox News, she had her own primetime show and made headlines for calling out former CEO Roger Ailes and former host Bill O’Reilly over sexual harassment. But while she was there, she also made numerous racially controversial comments, including criticizing former First Lady Michelle Obama and calling her a “whiner” after she delivered a commencement address at King High School, speaking against racism and other racial inequalities she faced. Kelly dismissed it as a “culture of victimization.”
As part of the deal, Kelly received a prime-time newsmagazine show. Premiering last year and airing opposite 60 Minutes (great choice for a time slot), it was smashed in the ratings and was canceled in August 2017.
Since her premiere, Kelly has been panned for her awful interviewing skills, including one with Jane Fonda and the entire Will & Grace cast. Since the blackface comments, Kelly has been dropped by her talent agency CAA and the cast of Netflix’s House Of Cards have withdrawn as guests on the show.
Wednesday morning, Kelly apologized again – this time to viewers after being admonished by two black panelists on the show. When the show moved on to the next segment, Gary Busey was on and asked Kelly “[Are] you having fun yet?” Kelly replied “Am I having fun? I am now!”
But since no one else is having fun – especially NBC News personnel and hapless home TV viewers, at least her racist ass is being shitcanned soon. Now that’s going to be fun.