Megyn Kelly is out of a job at NBC, just four days after defending blackface costumes on her daytime morning show, Megyn Kelly Today. It was a swift fall for the former Fox News anchor, who arrived at NBC with the hope of becoming the network's next big star.
It all began on Tuesday, when Kelly had a panel of guests on to discuss insensitive Halloween costumes, referencing a scandal involving a Real Housewives star who dressed as Diana Ross last year. Kelly surprisingly defended blackface, saying it was "ok" when she was a kid, "as long as you were dressing up as, like a character."
Kelly later issued apologies to NBC staff and on her show, but it was not enough to stop the tide against her. On Thursday morning, she was not on her show. Twenty-four hours later, NBC cancelled Megyn Kelly Today, launching what is sure to be weeks of talks to settle her contract.
Scroll on for a look at how quickly Kelly's career at NBC fell apart.
Photo credit: Nathan Congleton/NBC
On Tuesday, Kelly had a group of panelists debate the yearly outrage against offensive Halloween costumes. Kelly defended some of these costume choices, but her guests did not.
Megyn Kelly wonders what the big deal is about blackface pic.twitter.com/07yvYDuAYe— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) October 23, 2018
“But what is racist?” Kelly asked them. “Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on 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.”
The panelists thought most know what is offensive, before Kelly defended Real Housewives of New York star Luann de Lesseps, who dressed as Diana Ross last year.
“She dressed as Diana Ross and she made her skin look darker than it really is," Kelly said.. "And people said that was racist, and I don’t know. I thought, like, who doesn’t love Diana Ross? She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day? I don’t know how that got racist on Halloween."
Panelist Jacob Soboroff said he had not seen the costume, but said it "sounds a little racist to me."
“I can’t keep up with the number of people we’re offending just by being normal people,” Kelly said.
Before Tuesday was over, Kelly issued an apology to NBC staffers, which was made publicly by an NBC spokesperson.
"One of the wonderful things about my job is that I get the chance to express and hear a lot of opinions. Today is one of those days where listening carefully to other points of view, including from friends and colleagues, is leading me to rethink my own views," Kelly said.
During the first hour of Wednesday's Today Show, Al Roker ripped into Kelly at the beginning of the episode.
Wild that NBC is paying Megyn Kelly tens of millions of $$$.
Al Roker on Megyn Kelly’s "apology:" “While she apologized to the staff, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country because this is a history going back to the 1830s. pic.twitter.com/Ng2Jpgr3tn— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) October 24, 2018
"The fact is, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the county. This is a history, going back to the 1830s [with] minstrel shows. To demean and denigrate a race wasn’t right," Roker said. "I’m old enough to have lived through Amos ‘n’ Andy where you had white people in blackface playing two black characters just magnifying the stereotypes about black people. And that’s what the big problem is. No good comes from it. It’s just not right."
Anchor Craig Melvin called Kelly's remarks "stupid," "indefensible" and "ignorant and racist."
Kelly did return to NBC on Wednesday, beginning her episode with an apology. It would turn out to be the last time she would appear on the network.
Megyn Kelly just delivered an extended apology for her blackface comments on the Today show pic.twitter.com/kHVDjCSZSp— Pamela Engel (@PamEngel12) October 24, 2018
“I want to begin with two words: I’m sorry,” she said. “You may have heard that yesterday we had a conversation about political correctness and Halloween costumes... I defended the idea [of black face], saying that as long it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume, it seemed okay. Well, I was wrong, and I am sorry.”
Even this apology was criticized, as she appeared to say she only recently learned how offensive blackface can be.
"I have never been a [politically correct] kind of person, but I do understand the value of being sensitive to our history, particularly on race and ethnicity," Kelly said. "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.”
Kelly's in-studio audience gave her a standing ovation, which left some on social media stunned.
At almost the instant after Kelly finished her apology, rumors started flying that she would be leaving NBC News. Kelly, who had a history of making controversial remarks during her tenure at Fox News, was not present for Thursday's taping.
"Given the circumstances, Megyn Kelly Today will be on tape the rest of the week," a NBC spokesperson said, confirming that Thursday and Fridays episodes would be repeats.
News that Kelly's staff was already being reassigned leaked on Thursday.
"They're contacting the staff and reassigning everyone today. Everyone's being told that they still have a home here, but it won't be on Megyn's show. [NBC hasn't] made an official announcement about the show, but everyone knows what it means the they're being moved somewhere else. This show is clearly over," a source told Entertainment Weekly.
"Megyn Kelly is done. She is not ever coming back. We are just working out timing of the announcement but mark my word — she is gone and will never be seen again," a NBC executive reportedly told the Daily Mail.
Late Thursday, TMZ reported on the strategies of Kelly's attorney, Bryan Freedman. He is reportedly demanding a $50 million settlement and wants NBC News to pay Kelly the rest of the 3-year, $69 million contract.
Freedman also wants to pointing out that Kelly was "targeted early on" at the network, especially after she made negative comments about Matt Lauer after he was fired for sexual harassment and she was critical of NBC News Chairman Andy Lack. Freedman also wants to remind NBC that Joy Reid is still working for MSNBC, even after she apologized for homophobic blog posts written before NBC hired her.
Freedman also reportedly wanted Ronan Farrow to sit in on the Friday meeting with NBC executives. Farrow has been at odds with NBC News since they did not publish his expose on sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein. TMZ reported that NBC blocked that request.
On Friday, NBC confirmed that Megyn Kelly Today was cancelled.
"Megyn Kelly Today is not returning. Next week, the 9 a.m. hour will be hosted by other 'Today' co-anchors," NBC said. The network did not say who would replace her, but Freedman claimed Kelly is still an employee at NBC News and "discussions about next steps are continuing."
It is not clear if NBC is considering firing Kelly or bring her back in another role. Megyn Kelly Today has been met with poor ratings, and Kelly herself has said she hoped for a gig involving more hard news.0comments
“The question for us is whether that content will resonate enough at 9 a.m. for the show to be considered a commercial success,” Kelly told Us Weekly before the scandal broke. “My own takeaway is, if that content doesn’t work at 9 a.m. and if all that works at 9 a.m. is much lighter fare, then I have a decision to make because I’m not going to do that.”
Kelly is also without an agency to represent her. CAA dropped her, reports The Hollywood Reporter. UTA was in talks to pick her up, but she backed out.