NBC News announced Friday that it fired Megyn Kelly – who left conservative Fox News for NBC News after feuding with President Donald Trump during his 2016 election campaign – ending the 13-month run of her Megyn Kelly TODAY show.
An NBC News spokesperson confirmed the network’s parting with Kelly, but did not indicate a specific long-term replacement.
"Megyn Kelly Today is not returning," the news network’s spokesperson announced Friday, according to a NBC News report. "Next week, the 9 a.m. hour will be hosted by other TODAY co-anchors.”
Reason for leaving
Remarks that Kelly offered about a Halloween mask that many considered racist appears to be the impetus behind her firing.
“Kelly outraged viewers earlier this week during a panel on controversial Halloween costumes,” Townhall reported. “She and her fellow panelists were discussing cultural misappropriation when Kelly suggested that blackface had been ‘okay’ when she was a kid.”
She proceeded to muse over the topic of racism and how it has been construed over the decades since her childhood.
"What is racist?" Kelly pondered. "Because you 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. When I was a kid, that was okay, as long as you were dressing up like a character."
Her take on the topic did not sit well with fellow employees on her show, who interpreted it as offensive and discriminatory toward African Americans.
“Those statements caused her own NBC colleagues to turn on her,” Townhall’s Cortney O’Brien recounted. “Anchor Craig Melvin called her comments ‘racist’ and ‘ignorant’ and didn't seem to have much patience for her initial apology to the staff.”
The Twitter account for Kelly’s show informed followers she was sorry for her remarks that many deemed racist.
“Megyn Kelly issued an apology in an email to colleagues for a controversial comment she made on her show Tuesday about blackface,” the TODAY show tweeted Wednesday.
A wider and more emotional apology was expressed by the embattled news personality, who is now looking for another job.
“She offered a fuller apology to the nation at large, in which she said, through tears, that she did not mean to hurt anyone – let alone further divisions in the country,” O’Brien noted.
Kelly also offered an apology at the opening of her show on Wednesday, which ended up being her last appearance – as a previously recorded Megyn Kelly Today episode aired in Thursday in place of her live show.
“I want to begin with two words – ‘I’m sorry,'” she told those in attendance and on TV. “I defended the idea [of blackface], saying as long as it was ‘respectful’ and part of a Halloween costume, it seemed okay. Well, I was wrong, and I am sorry.”
NBC News Chairman Andy Lack would not excuse Kelly for her initial remarks on the matter curing a pre-scheduled Town Hall event.
“There is no other way to put this – I condemn those remarks,” Lack declared to those in attendance, according to NBC News. “There is no place on our air or in this workplace for them.”
Despite her sorrow over the matter, the spot for a permanent host for the third hour of the TODAY show is now vacated, but NBC could still have plans for Kelly in the future, as her communications with the network have reportedly not ceased.
“Kelly is still in talks with NBC News about her future at the network – according to two people familiar with conversations who were not authorized to speak publicly,” NBC News disclosed.
Kelly’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, corroborated talk about her possible return to NBC.
"Discussions about next steps are continuing," Freedman, stated, according NBC News.
After gaining major name recognition for 12 years on Fox News’ The Kelly File, Kelly’s worth on network television escalated – to the point where the $69 million deal she signed in 2017 with NBC drew outrage from colleagues a year ago.
“Kelly ,46 [47 now], is actually making a cool $23 million per year for her new NBC morning show – and has been given a three-year contract at that level of pay,” The Daily Beast reported last October. “According to a report by DailyMailTV, NBC executives not involved in the hiring of the former Fox News host have said that her salary is ‘obscene’ and a ‘slap in the face’ to other NBC veteran stars.”
Former NBC host, Matt Lauer, who was let go within the past year over sexual misconduct allegations – was the only staffer at the network who made more than Kelly at the time.
“[The $23 million figure] means that Kelly’s remuneration package is bested only by Matt Lauer – who has been at NBC for 23 years – and has an estimated salary of $25 million,” The Daily Beast’s Tom Sykes pointed out at the time. “Jimmy Fallon – who hosts NBC’s flagship late-night show – earns around $15 million.”
Despite her high price tag, Kelly failed to meet expectations and draw a larger audience for NBC from the onset.
“The show's ratings got off to a slow start, with Kelly attracting a smaller audience than the when her predecessors, Tamron Hall and Al Roker, hosted the 9 a.m. hour,” NBC News’ Claire Atkinson recounted.
Kelly’s lack of success and resonation with her audience at NBC was attributed by KPRC General Manager Jerry Martin – who runs the NBC affiliate in Houston, Texas – to her being unable to make a smooth transition from a conservative to a left-leaning network.
"She was trying to spread her wings and do a different type of show," Martin contended, according to NBC News. "She was never able to overcome her Fox image. That's hard to overcome, and then – especially moving to daytime – she had a number of hurdles to jump over."