Megyn Kelly, the vaunted and very expensive new addition to NBC’s morning, is gone — for now, and maybe for good — after saying that she didn’t see the big deal about white people wearing blackface.
Who could have seen this coming, except for anyone who knew anything about her career?
Kelly went on hiatus from “Megyn Kelly Today” Thursday, after a Tuesday segment defending white people for wearing dark-pigmented makeup in Halloween costumes — a practice that has a demeaning history going back to the minstrel shows of the 19th century.
To Kelly, this history was just a bummer, ruining an innocent good time. “What is racist?” she asked. “When I was a kid, that was O.K. as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.” (Sidebar: I’m a few years older than Megyn Kelly, and it wasn’t. It’s also very much beside the point in 2018.)
It was jaw-dropping. It was not, however, anything new for Kelly and race — or, for that matter, holidays. In a December 2013 segment of her old Fox News show about racial depictions of Santa Claus, she told “all you kids watching at home” that Santa was definitely white. (She said the same about Jesus, which at minimum is historically debatable.)
This was hardly a career-ender at Fox News, where the “war on Christmas” and grievance over “political correctness” are built into the brand. Kelly also minimized reports of racist emails sent within the Ferguson, Mo., police department and, with other colleagues at Fox, sensationalized coverage of the fringe New Black Panther Party.
That history was easy enough to find for anyone who was, say, considering signing a reported $17 million annual check for a new TV host.
Now Kelly, like Roseanne Barr, who was fired by ABC over a racist tweet, may be on her way out. Which is telling, considering how she and Barr made their way in.
What brought Kelly to NBC may have been in part what brought “Roseanne” back to ABC — that dazed post-2016 state when media outlets, stunned by the election result, scrambled to make nice with Trump country.
Kelly seemed to be a way to court that audience without seeming to outright pander. She had clashed as a debate moderator with then-candidate Donald J. Trump, who dismissed her questioning as “blood coming out of her wherever.” But she also had a history as one of the most lacerating talons of the Fox News eagle, and might bring over viewers who saw NBC as the liberal enemy.
Whatever got her hired — displacing “Today’s Take,” the 9 a.m. show hosted by the black anchors Tamron Hall and Al Roker — it sure wasn’t an ability to be relaxed and conversational on morning TV, which she never demonstrated before “Megyn Kelly Today,” nor during it.
And it was precisely one of these chatty…
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