Hours after Megyn Kelly complained on her Today show hour about a PC-police Halloween costume crackdown preventing the donning of blackface for Halloween, she sent a note of apology to NBC colleagues.
“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,” she said, previously having missed this decades-old conversation. Kelly said she realizes “now” that it is “indeed wrong,” adding her revelation that “the history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent, the wounds too deep.”
During discussion on her program this morning, seated with an all-white panel, the former Fox News Channel primetime star who famously insisted Santa Claus must be white decided blackface Halloween costumes was a cause worth falling on her sword for.
“What is racist?” Kelly asked her panel of guests Jenna Bush Hager, MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff and Melissa Rivers. The quartet was discussing campus attempts to discourage “inappropriate and offensive costumes” during Halloween season.
“You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween,” she complained. “Back when I was a kid, that was OK just as long as you were dressing as a character.”
Twitter pretty much torched her over that one. Soledad O’Brien, for instance, tweeted: “With a panel of white people. And pretending to not understand the historical roots of the issue (nor bother to raise them). On the Today show. Interesting.”
Chimed in W. Kamau Bell: “@megynkelly – “I don’t get why Black face is so offensive?” Also @megynkelly – “KIDS, NEVER FORGET SANTA CLAUS IS WHITE!!!”
Here is Kelly’s apology to her colleagues at NBC:
Dear friends & teammates –
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.
When we had the roundtable discussion earlier today about the controversy of making your face look like a different race as part of a Halloween costume, I suggested that this seemed okay if done as part of this holiday where people have the chance to make themselves look like others. The iconic Diana Ross came up as an example. To me, I thought, why would it be controversial for someone dressing up as Diana Ross to make herself look like this amazing woman as a way of honoring and respecting her?
I realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry. The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep.
I’ve never been a “pc” kind of person — but I understand that we do need to be more sensitive in this day and age. Particularly on race and ethnicity issues which, far from being healed, have been exacerbated in our politics over the past year. This is a time for more understanding, love, sensitivity and honor, and I want to be part of that. I look forward to continuing that discussion.
I’m honored to work with all of you every day.