If you thought Megyn Kelly’s blackface controversy would quickly blow over, think again.
Following severe backlash over a segment on Tuesday’s edition of “Megyn Kelly Today”, in which the former Fox News personality defended white people in blackface for Halloween costumes, the Hollywood Reporter is reporting that a scheduled appearance on the show by the cast of “House of Cards” has been axed.
According to THR, a Netflix spokesperson confirmed that several members of the “House of Cards” cast were scheduled to appear on the show next week but cancelled the appearance on Wednesday.
“What is racist?” said Kelly during a panel discussion of politically incorrect Halloween costumes. “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 whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as like a character.”
Kelly subsequently issued an email apology to the show’s staff, writing: “I realize now that such behaviour is indeed wrong, and I am sorry. The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep.”
The following day, she kicked off the show with an on-air mea culpa. “I want to begin with two words: I’m sorry,” said. “I was wrong, and I am sorry. One of the great parts of sitting in this chair is getting to discuss different points of view. Sometimes I talk and sometimes I listen, and yesterday I learned. I learned 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.”
Kelly’s “Today” colleagues Al Roker and Craig Melvin commented on the controversy.
“The fact is, while she apologized to the staff, she owes a bigger apology to folks of colour ’round the country,” Roker said on Wednesday. “This is a history going back to the 1830s minstrel shows to demean and denigrate a race. It wasn’t right.”
As THR reports, NBC News chief Andy Lack addressed the controversy in a town-hall-style meeting with staffers. “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,” Lack said. “I think that ‘Nightly’ covered the story well last night and appropriately so. I think this morning on the ‘Today’ show, the team did an excellent job covering it properly. I thought Craig [Melvin] and Al [Roker] brought a thoughtfulness and a context to it that was sorely missing, and they really did this company and our audience a real public service. And that is the ‘Today’ show and ‘Nightly’ at their very best.”
Added Lack: “As we go forward, my highest priority remains, and as we sort through this with Megyn, let there be no doubt that this is a workplace in which you need to be proud and in which we respect each other in all the ways we know is foundational to who we are.”
Meanwhile, THR is also reporting that NBC is looking to end “Megyn Kelly Today” after this season.
“Sources tell THR that Kelly has met with network executives in recent weeks to discuss the future of the show and expressed a desire to cover more news and politics,” says THR. “It’s unclear what NBC News would put in place of Kelly’s show. But the discussions are at least an acknowledgment that the experiment is not working and that Kelly would prefer to be covering more news as she did with the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.”
Since being hired from Fox News in 2017 at a salary reported to be $20 million a year, Kelly has generated more controversy than ratings, including a low-rated, widely panned interview with InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones; awkward interviews with Jane Fonda and Debra Messing, with the latter saying she regretted appearing on the show; remarking that “some of us want to be fat-shamed”; and allegations that producers on her show were bullying and abusive to staffers.