Famed to Fired: On Megyn Kelly’s Defense of Blackface


Former NBC News Host Megyn Kelly is one of many news station hosts to lose their job after making controversial remarks. (Courtesy of Twitter)

By Arianna Chen

Megyn Kelly, notable for her meme-worthy outrage about how “Jesus was a white man… as is Santa” and other conservative remarks, was fired by NBC from her now-canceled show “Megyn Kelly Today” after publicly defending Halloween costumes featuring blackface. Previously a FOX News correspondent, Megyn Kelly passionately asserted on her show that “you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”  As one can imagine, these bigoted assertions were not well-received by the public.

Ushered by NBC to make a public apology, Kelly scrambled to find the words to save her crumbling reputation, stating, “I have never been a ‘PC’ kind of person, but I do understand the value in being sensitive to our history, particularly on race and ethnicity.

This past year has been so painful for so many people of color. This country feels so divided, and I have no wish to add to that pain and offense.” Despite the effort of the stressed public relations interns that she likely had edit her public apology, Megyn Kelly still failed in her mission to satisfy both her conservative FOX News audience and the ‘PC,’ or politically-correct, audience of NBC.

One cannot both assert their lack of political correctness and genuinely apologize for an offensive and trivializing statement in the same sentence; Megyn Kelly grossly attempted to utilize her lack of political correctness as a precedent or “justifier” for her horrendous defense of blackface.
Without diving into the extensive history of blackface embedded in our American I will say this: blackface is not an issue of “political correctness.”
There is absolutely no correlation between being politically correct and wearing blackface; these are completely separate entities.

NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack—who has been a controversial figure in the #MeToo era for refusing to allow reports on Harvey Weinstein and “Access Hollywood” tapes of Donald Trump to be aired—stated, “there is no other way to put this: I condemn those remarks; there is no place on our air or in this workplace for them,”regarding Megyn Kelly’s blackface comments.

Within the past few years, many television stars far more famous than Megyn Kelly have suffered similar fates because of insensitive comments: Roseanne Barr’s hit ABC revival was canceled amidst outrage over her Twitter comments comparing black people to apes, comedian Kathy Griffin of CNN was fired after she released a graphic image of her satirically holding Donald Trump’s severed head and supermodel Gigi Hadid was pulled from a Shanghai Victoria’s Secret fashion show after the 23-year-old released a controversial video on Instagram making a demeaning slant-eyed face.
Jane Fonda, an award-winning actress known for her avid political activism during the Vietnam War, told Entertainment Tonight that she “feel[s] badly, because… I wanted her to make it, I did. That’s always how everyone learns is through mistakes, you know. It’s through failure that we grow and learn. I know that has been true for me, and I think it is for everybody.”

Although many feel that Megyn Kelly, or others who were ousted from television for their offensive comments, “deserved” her punishment, some also feel similarly to Jane Fonda in that the punishment was too severe for the singular statement and the public expects too much from those they watch on the television screens. However, I rebuke this. The issue at hand is not perfection or an unrelenting moral compass; the issue at hand is that the people that we praise and the people we give a platform to on television should not represent the worst aspects or fallacies of American culture.

If your voice and opinions are being broadcasted to the youth, adult and elderly of all skin tones and ethnicities of this nation, I expect you to not be racist. If you are being paid 69 million dollars over the course of three years, I expect you to not be racist. If I expect the everyday person that I cross on the street to not be racist or bigoted, I certainly expect that, at the very least, television broadcast stars like of Megyn Kelly aren’t either.



Arianna Chen, FCRH ’22, is a political science major from Wayne, New Jersey.