Megyn Kelly is NBC’s $69M Mistake

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Megyn Kelly (Matt Gagnon)

hope about right now some NBC executive is wondering why they ever hired Megyn Kelly. The former FOX News demagogue recently planted her foot in her mouth when she declared that she had no-idea wearing blackface was offensive.

It didn’t take her a day to realize the foolishness of her words and she quickly sent out an apology to her coworkers. (She has yet to apologize to her audience.) But she even managed to botch the apology.

According to Raw Story, Kelly knew wearing blackface was racist back in 2016, when she praised Pastor Mark Burns for apologizing for posting a blackface image of Hillary Clinton. Either way, “Today” show host Al Roker wasn’t having it.

“While she apologized to the staff, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country,” said Roker. “This is a history going back to the 1830s — minstrel shows to demean and denigrate a race. [It] wasn’t right.”

Kelly’s use of racially-charged language in the past should have precluded her from getting the NBC job in the first place. She had a long history of making controversial statements at FOX News that included:

  • Declaring Jesus and Santa were white
  • Spending several months peddling a race-baiting story about the New Black Panthers Party threatening white people.
  • Saying that a teenage African-American girl who was sat on by a police officer “wasn’t a saint.”
  • She also criticized the Obama administration for attempting to integrate neighborhoods. According to her logic, people should have the right to keep their neighborhoods all-white.

Kelly could have claimed that when she worked at FOX she had to follow the company policy, which was hostility towards minorities. However, it was clear from her performances that she seemed to enjoy that role a little too much.

If I made a statement such as “all white people are evil,” that would be the end of my media career. But some genius decided that Kelly, whose audience at FOX was old racist, white men, was going to work well on warm and fuzzy daytime TV. NBC offered her a three-year, $69 million contract, according to Business Insider. After she was hired, NBC Chairman Andrew Lack said, “Megyn is an exceptional journalist and news anchor, who has had an extraordinary career. She’s demonstrated tremendous skill and poise, and we’re lucky to have her.”

The experiment hasn’t worked well. Ratings for her hour of the “Today” show haven’t been great and she obviously hasn’t given up race baiting. Her show also lags behind the ratings of competitor, “Live With Kelly and Ryan.” Even more troubling is the show’s ratings were better when it was co-hosted by Roker and the popular Tamron Hall, whose combined salary was less than half of Kelly’s financial package!

The latest PR disaster also shows she has a credibility issue. She knew blackface was offensive, but she still backed it. Maybe she has a bad memory, or maybe she’s just hostile to black people. Looking at her track record, I’m leaning towards the latter answer.

Written by

Manny Otiko writes about race, politics and sports. He has been published in Salon and LA Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @mannyotiko.

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