Next Monday, there will be a silence at Rockefeller Center. In the midst of producers and journalists busily working to report the news, someone will be missing. Megyn Kelly won’t be there to anchor her hour of the Today show because she has been cancelled.
One year and one month ago I predicted this would happen because Megyn Kelly’s show was 60 minutes of Beckery. Perhaps most famously, her interview with Jane Fonda—which happened during the first week of Megyn Kelly Today—was a total disaster.
Earlier this week during a segment on “political correctness” and Halloween costumes, Kelly was bewildered by the idea that dressing in blackface could be offensive. “What is racist?” Kelly asked. “Because truly you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a Black person who puts on white face for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as like a character.” (This from the person who has passionately argued on national television that Santa “just is” white.)
The next day, Kelly’s Today colleague Craig Melvin called her comments as “racist” and “ignorant.” The internet concurred, and on Wednesday, Kelly apologized for her aggressive obtuseness about the history and purpose of blackface, saying, “The country feels so divided and I have no wish to add to that pain and offense. I believe this is a time for more understanding, more love, more sensitivity and honor.” It’s not a good apology, but it will make your eyes roll uncontrollably.
By Thursday morning, the writing was on the wall: Megyn got cancelled.
Kelly’s lawyers are meeting with NBC’s lawyers today to discuss the logistics of her exit, and are expected to bring up MSNBC anchor Joy-Ann Reid’s homophobic blog posts and Real Housewives of New York City star Luann de Lesseps, who dressed in blackface as Diana Ross, but is still employed by NBCUniversal’s Bravo network. Bringing up other people who have also done bad things as a way to get out of trouble is the ultimate Becky move, and presumably this tactic is meant to suggest that Megyn Kelly isn’t being treated fairly.
In a way, that’s definitely true. Kelly’s treatment has been a lesson in the perks of white privilege and mediocrity, not fairness. Even though she’s most likely leaving NBC for good, she’ll be taking a hefty sum of payout money with her.
Kelly’s assertion that she didn’t know blackface is offensive is frankly, implausible—she brought the topic up during a “roundtable” on political correctness and Halloween! “I’m a little fired up over Halloween costumes this morning. Truly political correctness has gone amok,” Kelly said at the beginning of the segment. “The costume police are cracking down like never before!” she added. Kelly’s race-baiting, fearmongering, and reactionary rhetoric has been her m.o. for decades—the difference now is that her normal tricks backfired because they don’t play to her new audience at NBC.
Kelly has had her own TV show since 2010, and in that time she’s said a lot of racist shit. Knowing that, NBC offered her a $70 million deal in an attempt to cater to a conservative audience they were worried about losing. Taking her off Today is NBC trying to cover their ass for the embarrassing mistake of hiring her in the first place. “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,” NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said of Kelly’s defense of blackface on Wednesday.
Indeed. It’s very unfortunate when people are paid millions of dollars to behave in exactly the ugly way they always have.