U.S. TV host Megyn Kelly has show axed after defending blackface

The NBC News host has been widely criticised after defending the use of blackface as part of a Halloween costume.

Megyn Kelly Today / NBC

The host of U.S. TV network NBC’s ‘Megyn Kelly Today’ has found herself without a show, as of Friday.

Kelly drew criticism after defending the use of blackface as part of a Halloween costume.

“What is racist? Because you get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween,” she said during a segment. “When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up like a character.”

-Megyn Kelly

Friday night, after days of speculation, NBC News confirmed that ‘Megyn Kelly Today’, a spin-off of the network’s longstanding ‘Today’ morning show, would be replaced with other hosts from the wider ‘Today’ programme.

Kelly reportedly has a three year deal at NBC worth $69 million, making her the highest paid anchor at NBC News. She started at the network in 2017, moving from the right-wing cable news channel Fox News.

Her colleagues at ‘Today’ blasted her comments, with anchor Craig Melvin calling them “indefensible” and weather forecaster Al Roker saying Kelly owes “a bigger apology to folks around the country of colour…”

“This is a history going back to the 1830s minstrel shows to demean and denigrate a race. It wasn’t right.”

-Al Roker

NBC News chairman Andy Lack said that there was “no place” for such comments on air or in the workplace at NBC News: “I condemn those remarks” he added.

A day after making the comments on her show, Kelly parted ways with her talent agent.

Throughout her thirteen months hosting ‘Megyn Kelly Today’ and her time at Fox News, Kelly has made a number of inflammatory comments. Prior to this, her most notable controversy occurred when she addressed the “kids” watching her 9pm conservative cable news show, and insisted that Santa “just is white”. Kelly received both backlash and ridicule for these remarks.

On her first show at NBC she angered ‘Will and Grace’ star Debra Messing after suggesting a fan of the sitcom “became gay” because of the show’s influence.

When NBC announced ‘Megyn Kelly Today’ in 2017, it faced backlash as the slot was previously held by two black hosts, Al Roker and Tamron Hall. Roker stayed on at NBC in a reduced role while Hall left the network entirely. Hall was ‘Today’s’ first ever black female host. At the time, the National Association of Black Journalists spoke out against Kelly’s appointment to the slot in favour of Roker and Hall. It said the issue was “being seen by industry professionals as whitewashing.”

Since taking over from the pair, Kelly has received lower ratings than her predecessors.

It’s reported that Megyn developed a frosty relationship with NBC News bosses after her coverage of the #MeToo movement. NBC became embroiled in scandal when it fired Matt Lauer, anchor of ‘Today’ for over twenty years. Lauer was accused of using his power within NBC News to sexually harass, and in some cases illicit sex, from lower ranking female colleagues. The internal culture at NBC News came under question after numerous allegations came to light. Kelly did not shy away from covering, and criticising NBC on her show.

She also drew attention to NBC News’ alleged refusal to report on the Harvey Weinstein allegations when they were approached with the story. The New Yorker magazine later published reporting by Ronan Farrow which broke the story.

Responding to rumours about whether Fox News would welcome Megyn Kelly back, the channel released a statement saying: “We are extremely happy with our entire line-up.”

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