Yesterday, many of you learned something shocking and kind of disturbing. You learned that Megyn Kelly Today is still on the air and hasn’t been shit-canned by NBC News even though her ratings are about as lackluster as Kathie Lee Gifford’s mood before downing that first cup of Chardonnay with a splash of coffee. You learned that Megyn Kelly still exists on the Today show after she wondered why doing blackface for Halloween is racist. Megyn has now apologized to her colleagues and to the three people (including me, I am so ashamed) who watch her show.
During a talk on her show about offensive Halloween costumes, Megyn said that when she was a kid, it was okay for white people to do blackface and black people to do whiteface on October 31st. Megyn also defended Luann de Lesseps who darkened her skin to dress up as Diana Ross for Halloween. The panel was filled with three white people, who didn’t agree with Megyn. Melissa Rivers said that if you think it’s offensive, it’s probably offensive. And Jacob Soboroff and Jenna Bush Hager both said that Luann’s costume sounded a little bit racist to them.
After Megyn Kelly became Julianne Hough’s favorite morning show host, Megyn sent out an email to co-workers saying that after talking to her colleagues, she’s rethinking her views and understands that “we do need to be more sensitive in this day and age. Particularly on race and ethnicity issues which, far from being healed, have been exacerbated in our politics over the past year.”
During the earlier hours of Today this morning, the topic of Megyn’s blackface mess was brought up and Al Roker said that while she apologized to her colleagues, she owes “a bigger apology to folks of color around the country. This is a history going back to the 1830s — minstrel shows to demean and denigrate a race. [It] wasn’t right.” Craig Melvin also called Megyn out, saying that her comments were “stupid” and “indefensible” and that a lot of people knew about the history of blackface before yesterday. Translation: Trick should’ve known.
As expected, Megyn opened her show today by reciting an apology that was most likely written by NBC News’ PR team.
“I want to begin with two words: I’m sorry. You may have heard that yesterday, we had a discussion here about political correctness and Halloween costumes and that conversation turned to whether it is ever okay for a person of one race to dress up as another— a black person making their face whiter or a white person making theirs darker, to make their costume complete. I defended the idea, saying as long as it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume, it seemed okay. Well, I was wrong and I am sorry.
One of the great parts of sitting in this chair each day is getting to discuss different points of view. Sometimes I talk and sometimes I listen and yesterday, I learned. I learned that given the history of blackface being used in awful ways by racists in this country, it is not okay for that to be part of any costume, Halloween or otherwise. I have never been a PC kind of person, but I do understand the value in being sensitive to our history, particularly on race and ethnicity. This past year has been so painful for many people of color.
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. And I want to be part of that. Thank you for listening and for helping me listen too.”
If you want to see Megyn Kelly show off her gifts of “reading a teleprompter and looking sad and sorry when the teleprompter told her to”, here you go. You know that behind the camera an NBC News executive was holding her $69 million contract in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other, and threatened to cut that shit up if she didn’t stick to the script on the screen.
Megyn then brought on journalists Roland Martin and Amy Holmes, they schooled someone who gets paid to know the current and former history of American politics on blackface. They talked about Jim Crow, and Roland Martin gave Megyn and her audience a lesson in Blackface 101. Meanwhile, Megyn’s face said, “I’m listening,” but her brain was probably thinking, “But it’s Halloween!”
Megyn Kelly said yesterday that when she was a kid, blackface for Halloween was okay. Meygn was born in 1970, so in 1984 she was 14 years old. I bring up 1984, because that’s the year when the important blackface episode of Gimme a Break! aired. When Samantha dresses Joey up in blackface, Nell lets her know how hurtful and wrong blackface is. So either Megyn was a truly uneducated teen who never learned important lessons by watching Gimme a Break! or she already knew that blackface is wrong. Nell Carter told us!