“This morning, NBC News host Megyn Kelly is in talks with the network about her imminent departure, according to a source familiar with the situation,” Today reported this morning, adding, sources tell NBC News conversations already have begun about her exit, “exact details of which remain unclear a this point”:
PREVIOUSLY, OCT 25 PM: You’ve seen the last of Megyn Kelly on Today, though she isn’t entirely out at NBC — yet.
Reports that Kelly is finito are premature but clearly inevitable.
With a pivotal meeting between Kelly’s lawyer and brass at the Comcast-owned network scheduled for Friday, the writing has been on the wall for some time. Kelly, just one year into her three-year, $69 million contract, was off her 9 AM ET show Thursday and will be Friday too as moves to end the relationship with the Comcast-owned net escalated. Only the details had to be resolved, after earlier this week Kelly engaged in a game of Hollywood agency musical chairs.
Earlier this week, Kelly surprised NBC News with her spirited on-air defense of blackface Halloween costumes. The offensive remarks handed NBC News chief Andy Lack that final straw in his big-bucks experiment to bring more conservative fly-over country viewers to the morning show franchise with the addition of the outspoken Fox News lightning rod who prides herself on being “not pc.”
Meanwhile, reports that Kelly may return to the welcome arms of Fox News Channel began leaking water when Fox News began telling reporters seeking comment, via a spokeswoman, “we are extremely happy with our entire lineup.” This stands to reason, given the network’s primetime numbers: Sean Hannity is poised to have his highest-rated month in his FNC history; Tucker Carlson is No. 1 in his time slot in the news demo and total viewers, etc.
Lack, on Wednesday, held a town hall meeting with staff and kicked it off with a robust condemnation of Kelly’s latest attack of foot-in-mouth, setting in motion the Comcast Removal Marathon. Reporters Who Cover Television, whose nerves were fraying over the glacial pace at which it was unfolding – when a simple “Sorry, you’re bumming us out, get outta here” would do – began publishing headlines saying the removal was done.
Thursday morning, NBC News announced she’d be off the air the rest of the week under the circumstances and repeats of Megyn Kelly Today would fill her hour.
Truth is, Kelly was a bad fit from the get go. As she demonstrated on the very first day when she asked a superfan of Will & Grace, whose cast members were her guest that day, “Is it true you became a lawyer, and you became gay, because of Will?” W&G star Debra Messing felt compelled to assure fans, “Honestly I didn’t know it was [Megyn Kelly] until that morning. The itinerary just said ‘Today Show’ appearance. Regret going on. Dismayed by her comments.”
Later, doing one of those celebrity interviews with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford in promotion of their new Netflix movie, Kelly did not grill Fonda about her politics. However, she found another way to derail the interview, setting up the actress with the compliment “You’ve been an example to everyone in how to age beautifully and with strength,” followed by the question, “I read that you said you felt you’re not proud to admit you’ve had work done. Why not?”
Months later, however, Kelly did play the Hanoi Jane Card when she said, on her show, that Fonda “has no business lecturing anyone on what qualifies as offensive” after Fonda got asked about that awkward encounter on Kelly’s show as she guested elsewhere.
One year after her NBC morning show debu Kelly did herself in this week when she asked her all-white panel, “What is racist?” during a discussion about a university cracking down on offensive Halloween costumes.
“Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween.,” Kelly said.
“When I was a kid it was okay, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”
Worth mentioning Kelly is 47 and would have been of Halloween costume age about, say 40-ish years ago, and that times have changed in nearly half a century. But, that also puts her childhood in the ’70s — not the ’30s.
As Kelly began having trouble booking A-list guests to her show, she began booking victims of sexual harassment, a topic that reminded viewers of her celebrity status back when candidate Donald Trump attacked her over the question she asked him at the first GOP debate about vile ways in which he had described women over the years.
More recently, Kelly seemed to be setting up a storyline that she might be on the outs at NBC News because of her coverage of the #MeToo movement, telling Us magazine, sphinx-like, “I know too much that others don’t know” about Matt Lauer’s continued employment and then sudden ouster from NBC News, when asked whether Lauer might make a comeback.
Thursday, in what had all the earmarks of a desperate effort to distract from her blackface remarks and cast her ouster from the Today show as another #MeToo moment in NBC News’ history, Kelly’s lawyer reportedly demanded Ronan Farrow witness Friday’s scheduled meeting between Kelly’s camp and NBC brass to talk about her future.
Farrow famously exited NBC News when the division declined to broadcast his report about women’s claims against Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein, claiming it was not ready for broadcast. Farrow took his work to the New Yorker, and the rest of the story, and Farrow’s Pulitzer Prize, is history.
NBC’s Today show weatherman-and-so-much-more Al Roker is odds-on fave to step in to Kelly’s 9 AM weekday Today time slot, at least on an interim basis. It makes sense, as he was one of the Today time slot’s two co-hosts – Tamron Hall was the other – for several years, until NBC shoveled out $70M to land the Fox News Channel primetime star, giving her the hour.
More recently, Roker’s the guy who, on Wednesday – aka, the morning after Kelly delivered her defense of blackface Halloween costumes, “as long as it was respectful” – told Today viewers her previous day’s apology to staff wasn’t nearly enough, and that she owed an “apology to folks of color around the country.”
“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,” he said, adding, “No good comes from it. It’s just not right.”