Megan Kelly's nine o'clock hour of the Today show is reportedly in jeopardy following the backlash against her comments defending blackface earlier this week.
Variety reported Wednesday night that Kelly and NBC News executives have been in discussions about a new role for her at the company. The news comes amid backlash and after talent agency CAA dropped Kelly as a client, although the conversations about ending her daytime show began before this week's controversy.
”Where do you think Megyn Kelly would be happier, as part of big breaking news or forced to cover light-hearted stories that traditionally work at 9 a.m.?” a source close to Kelly said.
Kelly participated in NBC News’ coverage of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings; she is also slated to take part in NBC News’ election-night coverage on Nov. 6.
Two people familiar with the matter told CNN Business that Kelly's show will be ending and that negotiations about the end date and other details are still underway. She reportedly will not be hosting Thursday's program and is unlikely to return later, one of the sources said.
The New York Times reported Wednesday evening that Kelly and NBC News chair Andy Lack "discussed a possible winding-down of her portion of the 'Today' show by the end of the year."
She also reportedly hired attorney Bryan Freedman in the aftermath of her remarks — and apology — about blackface and Halloween costumes. The controversy, which made national news headlines, elicited disappointed statements from leadership at NBC as well as from Kelly's peers.
Lack condemned her comments Wednesday at a town hall meeting with new 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,” he said.
Today show host Al Roker also condemned the statements while speaking about the incident during Today's 7 a.m. hour Wednesday.
“The fact is, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the county,” he said. “This is a history, going back to the 1830s [with] minstrel shows. To demean and denigrate a race wasn’t right. 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.”
Megyn Kelly Today kicked off in the fall of 2017 after she left Fox News, with Kelly telling the audience on her first morning broadcast that she was "kind of done with politics for now." She added that she hoped instead to help viewers "get yourself through the day, to have a laugh with us, a smile, sometimes a tear — and maybe a little hope to start your day. Some fun! That's what we want to be doing."
But Kelly also has not shied away from hitting hotter topics, like various aspects of the #MeToo movement and Kavanaugh's hearings. And critics have found a lot to criticize, including her awkward exchange-turned-controversy with Jane Fonda. Most importantly, the show has not met ratings expectations after Kelly was hired for $69 million.
"NBC bet $69 million on Megyn Kelly — then viewers vanished," read a headline from the Wall Street Journal earlier this year.
During the offending segment on Tuesday, Kelly said it was OK when she was growing up for white people to dress up as black characters. She spoke out against last year's controversy when Real Housewives of New York City star Luann de Lesseps dressed in blackface as Diana Ross.0comments
"But what is racist?" Kelly asked. "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."
On Wednesday, a tearful Kelly apologized to a standing ovation, but the controversy could have been the last straw.