Megyn Kelly received heavy criticism online after she seemed to suggest, Tuesday on her morning show, that blackface was not racist.
She said it was “OK” for people to paint their faces black “when I was a kid as long as you were dressing like a character.”
The morning show host was defending “Real Housewives of New York” star Luann de Lesseps, who’d been criticized for darkening her skin in order to pull off a Diana Ross costume for Halloween last year.
“I thought, like, who doesn’t love Diana Ross? She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day, and I don’t know how that got racist on Halloween,” Kelly said.
“Today” hosts Al Roker and Craig Melvin both criticized Kelly’s comments on Wednesday morning in the hour leading into Kelly’s program.
“The fact is, while she apologized to the [NBC] staff, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country,” Roker said. “This is a history going back to the 1830s minstrel shows to demean and denigrate a race. It wasn’t right.”
Melvin said, “She said something stupid; she said something indefensible … I guess it was an opportunity for us to learn a little bit more about blackface — but I think a lot of people knew about blackface.”
Kelly opened her show with an emotional apology.
"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." Megyn Kelly pic.twitter.com/6hHrvZLNvK
— Megyn Kelly TODAY (@MegynTODAY) October 24, 2018
“I want to begin with two words: I’m sorry,” she said. “You may have heard that yesterday we had a conversation about political correctness and Halloween costumes … I defended the idea [of blackface], saying that as long it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume, that it seemed OK. Well, I was wrong, and I am sorry.”
She said she was not a “PC [politically correct] kind of person,” but she had learned she was wrong about blackface from the controversy that her Tuesday morning comments inspired.
“This past year has been so painful for many people of color,” Kelly said. “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, and I want to be part of that. Thank you for listening and for helping me listen, too.”
Kelly then led a panel, which dove into the history of blackface and its negative impact on the culture.
She ended the panel by saying, “For my part, I have been listening and learning, and I am grateful to both of you to have this conversation here on this set today. And to those who reached out to me via Twitter, I’ve heard you too.”
For more on controversy surrounding Kelly’s comments, check out the video below: