Megyn Kelly Out At NBC's 'Today' Show Megyn Kelly is out from the Today show, an NBC News spokesperson said Friday. This comes after she made offensive remarks earlier this week about blackface Halloween costumes.
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Megyn Kelly Out At NBC's 'Today' Show

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Megyn Kelly Out At NBC's 'Today' Show

Megyn Kelly Out At NBC's 'Today' Show

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Megyn Kelly and her NBC morning talk show may soon be off the air. Kelly was hired away from Fox News in 2017 with much fanfare and a big paycheck. Yet her time at the network has seen some controversy, including comments she made about blackface just this week. Yesterday, an emotional Kelly apologized.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TODAY")

MEGYN KELLY: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the show. I'm Megyn Kelly. And I want to begin with two words - I'm sorry.

CORNISH: Now NPR's David Folkenflik is reporting her employment by NBC appears to be over. David joins us from our studios in New York City. Hey there, David.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Hey, Audie.

CORNISH: So describe exactly what Kelly said that caused this latest controversy.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, Kelly obviously - as host of the 9 a.m. hour of the "Today" show, she's had - was having a chat a couple days ago with several panelists about Halloween and costumes and talks about how she's not PC, and then started to talk about what it was to dress up as somebody of a different race. Here's what she had to say.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TODAY")

KELLY: What is racist? Because truly you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yes.

KELLY: ...Blackface on Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Yes.

KELLY: ...For Halloween. Like, OK, back when I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.

FOLKENFLIK: And that of course tapping into a rich vein of pain in terms of the course of American history, depiction of African-Americans by whites.

CORNISH: How did her fellow NBC colleagues react to all this?

FOLKENFLIK: Pretty sharply. It was notable in two ways, one of which was the significant coverage that was given to the story both by - on the "NBC Nightly News" - obviously it's anchored by Lester Holt, the only African-American anchor among the big three broadcast American networks - and also on "Today" show in the hours preceding her own show two of her African-American colleagues really weighed in. First let's hear from Al Roker. He noted that she had apologized to colleagues but said she needed to do more.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TODAY")

AL ROKER: She owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country because this is a history going back to the 1830s minstrel shows. To demean and denigrate a race wasn't right.

FOLKENFLIK: And then also Craig Melvin, perhaps the newest co-host at "Today" show - he weighed in as well.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TODAY")

CRAIG MELVIN: There was some criticism yesterday online that this was political correctness run amok. That's silly. And it's disingenuous. And it's just as ignorant and racist as the statement itself.

FOLKENFLIK: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack at a meeting with staffers this week on the subject refused to defend her as well.

CORNISH: This isn't the first time Megyn Kelly has faced criticism while at NBC. Why do people think this was the last straw?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, I think there are a couple of things going on. First off, it tapped in as well to her own history in terms of remarks on race from her days as a Fox News host, a much sharper-edged Fox News host. She had insisted that both Santa Claus and Jesus Christ were white back in 2013. She said she regretted that last year once she was at NBC. But also, her show has been ailing. It's had rather tepid ratings. And she had - her relationship had cooled with executives as she had really embraced at times the #MeToo movement, including accusations of sexual harassment against some of the NBC's biggest stars - not only Matt Lauer, who was fired, but the former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, a much-beloved figure who retains his ties to the network.

CORNISH: What have you learned about what's next for her?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, I want to be very clear about this. A source with direct knowledge of the matter says it's clear she won't be returning. It seems impossible to imagine, but these things aren't quite concrete yet. You know, Andrew Lack has been her biggest champion despite the fact that she had a fairly cool and conflicted reaction and welcome from employees at NBC. She displaced a couple of popular figures in Tamron Hall and Al Roker at that 9 a.m. hour, and her ratings didn't do a heck of a lot for it. In addition, she was paid an extraordinary amount of money for the thing. And she really took on a lot of fire as a figure who brought on ideological baggage, who brought Fox News baggage and, it turned out, didn't bring a whole lot of success at the box office.

CORNISH: That's NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. Thank you.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet.

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