Some of the best known hosts at NBC News condemned their colleague Megyn Kelly’s remarks about blackface Halloween costumes.
Kelly apologized to her staff in an email after the offensive segment on Tuesday’s edition of “Megyn Kelly Today.”
On NBC’s “Today” Wednesday, Al Roker said “she owes a bigger apology to folks of color across the country.”
Roker’s blunt words expressed a point of view shared by many within the news organization.
“Today” colleague Craig Melvin also called out Kelly’s comments for being “stupid” and “indefensible.” He pointed out that this controversy is an opportunity to inform people — but said most people already knew how offensive blackface is.
On her show Wednesday, Kelly said, “I want to begin with two words, I’m sorry… The country feels so divided and I have no wish to add to that pain and offense. I believe this is a time for more understanding, more love, more sensitivity and honor… Thank you for listening and for helping me listen too.”
Lester Holt covered the Kelly story on Tuesday night when few other networks paid it any attention. Roker, Melvin and other members of the “Today” show cast had a remarkably candid conversation about the controversy during the 7 a.m. hour of the show on Wednesday.
The situation demonstrates the continuing unease about and disarray within NBC News over Kelly, whose hire and installation in the network’s morning hours was controversial.
During the offending segment on Tuesday, Kelly said it was OK when she was growing up for white people to dress up as black characters, and she spoke out against a controversy that erupted last year over a reality star who portrayed Diana Ross.
“But what is racist?” Kelly asked. “Because 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.”
Later in the day, Kelly said sorry to her 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.”