NBC morning host (and former Fox News host) Megyn Kelly controversy is seemingly out at the network, after a politically incorrect discussion of Halloween costumes and so-called cultural appropriation caused outcry -- not at the puzzling phenomenon of liberals demanding Halloween costumes be policed, but at a clumsy comment Kelly made that was quickly spun as racist. TV writer James Poniewozik even compared Kelly's remarks to "tiki torches" at the Nazi march in Charlottesville.
During a freewheeling discussion on her Tuesday show, Kelly said “So truly you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween... or a black person who puts on white face for Halloween? Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressed up in a character.”
The front of Friday’s New York Times Business day featured John Koblin and Michael Grynbaum, “Likely Exit for a Once-Promising Star – Kelly’s Comments on Dressing in Blackface May Be the Last Straw for NBC.”
The Times used the opportunity to pile on old unrelated criticisms:
Early in her run as a morning host, Ms. Kelly displayed a penchant for offending celebrity guests, including Debra Messing, a star of NBC’s “Will & Grace,” who said after an appearance that she would not return to the show. Ms. Kelly later got into a dust-up with Jane Fonda -- by asking her pointedly about her plastic surgery -- in what would develop into a monthslong feud.
The Business story got in a few personal cracks against Kelly:
In an effort to convey a sunnier persona, Ms. Kelly danced awkwardly on the air with a “Today” show colleague, Hoda Kotb, to a Pitbull song. The clip of that moment was shared widely on social media (not in a good way).
Even Kelly’s #MeToo stand against her own network, which surely took some courage, was spun as a negative in the liberal paper:
....Her examination of Matt Lauer, whom the network fired in November after sexual misconduct allegations, ruffled feathers within the network.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s front page featured the Koblin-Grynbaum team following up: “Racial Remark Sinks NBC Star Lured From FOX”:
For Ms. Kelly, who was already carrying a reputation for being racially insensitive -- stemming from Fox News segments where, among other comments, she once declared “Santa just is white” -- the “blackface” moment reinforced an image she had been trying to shed. It also left powerful figures at NBC stunned and exasperated. In an on-air rebuke, the “Today” weatherman Al Roker told viewers that Ms. Kelly “owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country.”
The Times again raised Kelly’s aggressive pursuit of in-house sexual harassment allegations against NBC powers Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw, while again spinning it as opportunism instead of a brave #MeToo moment.
But the most hostility toward Kelly (and her former employer Fox News) came from the paper’s television critic James Poniewozik in Friday’s Business Day: “Host’s Demeaning Words Serve as Clumsy Rerun of Racially Insensitive Past.” The online headline was equally unforgiving: “On NBC, Megyn Kelly Does as Megyn Kelly Has Always Done.”
Who could have seen this coming, except for anyone who knew anything about her career?
It was jaw-dropping. It was not, however, anything new for Kelly and race -- or, for that matter, holidays. In a December 2013 segment of her old Fox News show about racial depictions of Santa Claus, she told “all you kids watching at home” that Santa was definitely white. (She said the same about Jesus, which at minimum is historically debatable.)
Poniewozik quickly shifted to hitting Fox News:
This was hardly a career-ender at Fox News, where the “war on Christmas” and grievance over “political correctness” are built into the brand. Kelly also minimized reports of racist emails sent within the Ferguson, Mo., police department and, with other colleagues at Fox, sensationalized coverage of the fringe New Black Panther Party.
.... Both Kelly’s Santa and blackface comments came in off-the-cuff remarks in what seemed planned as “light” segments about holidays and celebrations -- the sort of things that aren’t considered weighty news.
But holidays are precisely the stuff of people’s deepest cultural identity and fondest memories of home and family. That’s why the annual freakout over Starbucks cups is a go-to for conservative media.
Actually, it’s the New York Times stirring up a “freakout” where none exists.
Poniewozik's rant then took a truly nasty turn:
It is a pattern, and not an unfamiliar one. It’s the kind of remark that comes from people who don’t see themselves as racist. They just see themselves as, you know, normal. Regular. The default.
Sometimes this feeling manifests itself in an offhand remark about Halloween. Sometimes it’s “Why should I have to say, ‘Happy holidays?’ ” Sometimes it’s tiki torches and “You will not replace us.” The degree is different. But it all comes back to: My thing used to be the main thing, the automatic thing, and now it’s not, and I don’t like it.
The paper is not nearly as hard on liberal race-baiters who go after whites in ugly terms. In fact they sometimes hire them to write on their editorial board; witness Sarah Jeong.