MegynKelly__131107000405 (1)UPDATE: 8 PM: Megyn Kelly said tonight on her Fox News Channel program that her Wednesday show segment, in which she said that Santa Claus and Jesus are white, was tongue-in-cheek and that anyone who says otherwise needs to lighten up. “Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show, but sometimes that’s lost on the humorless,” she said on tonight’s The Kelly File. “This would be funny if it were not so telling about our society, in particular, the knee-jerk instinct by so many to race-bait and to assume the worst in people, especially people employed by the very powerful Fox News Channel.” On her show Wednesday, Kelly and panelists discussed a Slate piece written by a black woman suggesting Santa should not be a white man anymore. Writer Aisha Harris suggested a penguin replace Santa Claus, so as to appeal to children of all races. “For all you kids watching at home,” Kelly said Wednesday. “Santa just is white, but this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. But Santa is what he is, and just so you know, we’re just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids.”

Related: Kelly To Leno: “I Am Not One Of The Opinion Hosts At Fox”

Then on tonight’s show, Kelly said: “Contrary to what my critics have posited, neither my statement, nor Harris’, I’m sure, was motivated by any racial fear or loathing. In fact, it was something far less sinister: a lifetime of exposure to the very same commercials, mall casting calls, and movies Harris references in her piece. Should that change? Well, that debate got lost because so many couldn’t get past the fact that I acknowledged, as Harris did, that the most commonly depicted image of Santa, does, in fact, have white skin.” She did acknowledge tonight that her assertion Wednesday that Jesus was a white man “is far from settled.” Kelly said, “The fact that an offhand jest I made during a segment about whether Santa should be replaced by a penguin has now become a national firestorm says two things: Race is still an incredibly volatile issue in this country, and Fox News, and yours truly, are big targets for many people.”

PREVIOUS: 8:27 AM: Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly will return to her show tonight, and will address the media drubbing she’s taken after asserting, on her primetime program, that Santa Claus and Jesus Christ were white. (Watch the clip after the jump). A perfect storm of media/late-night comic panning hailed down in response, coming as it did on the heels of her debut Tonight Show show appearance, in which she told host Jay Leno, “I am a straight news anchor — I am not one of the Opinion Hosts at Fox” — and a long, loving Washington Post profile, in which she was described as a “queen,” a melange of Grace Kelly and Barbara Stanwyck, and a “break in the clouds, an interlude of lucidity” sandwiched between Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, “admitted opinionators who specialize, respectively, in cantankerousness and mongering.”

Kelly was MIA from The Kelly File last night, which raised some media eyebrows, since her absence had not been noted in advance, and it would have been her first appearance on the show since Wednesday’s segment on the racial identity of Jesus and St. Nicholas. FNC said this morning Kelly had not appeared on last night’s show due to illnesss (she was under the weather during Monday’s Tonight show appearance, declining to shake hands with Leno’s other guest, Simon Cowell because, she said, he’s a “germaphobe”). The network said she will return tonight and will address the issue.

On her Wednesday program, while talking with a panel about a piece in Slate, “Santa Claus Should Not Be A White Man Anymore”  (the author suggested Santa should be a penguin), Kelly said both Jesus and Santa were white, adding,  “just because it makes you feel uncomfortable it doesn’t mean it has to change…Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?”

Watch Kelly’s FNC show segment that started it all, followed by Jon Stewart’s response, and Kelly’s Tonight show debut:

Kelly’s Santa/Jesus segment on FNC:

Jon Stewart on Kelly’s FNC Santa/Jesus segment (in two parts):


Kelly making her  Tonight debut: