NBC host Megyn Kelly issued an apology Tuesday for her comments concerning people dressing up as characters and celebrities of differing races on Halloween that critics decried as “racist.”
“I realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry,” wrote Kelly in an internal email obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
On Tuesday’s “Megyn Kelly Today,” Kelly questioned why it was considered “racist” to dress up as a character or celebrity of a different race on Halloween. The host recalled a cast member from Bravo’s Real Housewives of New York getting into trouble for dressing up as legendary singer Diana Ross.
“I don’t see how that is racist on Halloween. 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,” noted Kelly, implying that the costume was obviously done in homage, not mockery.
“What is racist?” asked the host. “Because truly you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as like a character.”
Though Kelly indicated that she was not advocating for some sort of malicious “blackface,” but people — white and black — respectfully dressing up as characters and celebrities of differing races for the holiday, the comment was met with fierce backlash. Keyboard warriors and celebrities like Padma Lakshmi, Roy Wood Jr., and Patton Oswalt were among the ridiculing voices.
After trending on Twitter (and not in a good way) for hours, Kelly offered an apology.
“One of the wonderful things about my job is that I get the chance to express and hear a lot of opinions. 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,” wrote the NBC host in an internal memo.
Kelly added that she “suggested that this seemed okay if done as part of this holiday where people have the chance to make themselves look like others.”
“I realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry. The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep,” she wrote.
“I’ve never been a ‘pc’ kind of person — but I understand that we do need to be more sensitive in this day and age. Particularly on race and ethnicity issues which, far from being healed, have been exacerbated in our politics over the past year. This is a time for more understanding, love, sensitivity and honor, and I want to be part of that. I look forward to continuing that discussion,” concluded the host.
In 2013, Kelly was deemed “racist” for telling Fox News viewers that Santa Claus “just is white.”
“For you kids watching at home: Santa just is white,” said Kelly, later adding, “Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change. You know, I mean, Jesus was a white man too.”
WATCH (relevant comments begin at the 4-minute mark):