Megyn Kelly Apologizes For Blackface Halloween Costume Comments

TV journalist Megyn Kelly is sorry for her offensive comments regarding donning blackface for Halloween.

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, Kelly opened her hour of the Today show, Megyn Kelly Today, to discuss what she'd said about using blackface as part of a Halloween costume during the previous episode on Oct. 23. "Good morning everyone and welcome to the show. I'm Megyn Kelly and I want to begin with two words — I'm sorry," Kelly began. "You may have heard that yesterday we had a discussion here about political correctness and Halloween costumes and that conversation turned to whether it is ever okay for a person of one race to dress up as another — a black person making their face whiter or a white person making theirs darker, to make a costume complete."

She continued, "I defended the idea, saying as long as it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume, it seemed okay. Well, I was wrong, and I am sorry."

Teary-eyed, Kelly noted that she appreciates being able to "discuss different points of view" every day on her show and begin given the opportunity to further educate herself. "I learned that given the history of blackface being used in awful ways by racists in this country, it is not okay for that to be part of any costume, Halloween or otherwise," she stated. "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 many people of color."

Continuing on, she 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."

Audience members then gave her a standing ovation.

In her Oct. 23 episode, Kelly held a roundtable discussion with Jacob Soboroff, Melissa Rivers, and Jenna Bush Hager about, among other things, Halloween costumes and what is deemed inappropriate. "What is racist?" Kelly asked. "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 white face for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as like a character."

"You gotta be able to take it," she said, adding, "On Halloween, you've got guys running around with fake axes coming out of their heads. It's going to be jarring."

During the segment, Kelly brought up Real Housewives star Luann de Lesseps' Diana Ross costume that she wore in 2017 — something that had sparked controversy, as Ross had appeared to be in blackface as a part of her costume. (Lesseps later claimed that she did not darken her skin tone and that she "never meant to hurt anybody's feelings.")

Kelly said, "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."

Following the show, many took to social media to air their complaints. Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi tweeted out, "I cannot believe the ignorance on this in 2018. You are on national television. You have a responsibility to educate yourself on social issues @megynkelly. This is so damaging."

Comedian Patton Oswalt wrote, "Dear @megynkelly — you and I are approximately the same age. Blackface was NOT okay when we were kids. Take it from a big-hearted boy who just wanted to show his love for Nipsey Russell on the worst Halloween of my life."

Megyn Kelly's NBC colleagues also chimed in about the controversy, as reported by People. Craig Melvin called Kelly's words "stupid" and "indefensible."

Al Roker said, "The fact is, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the county." He added, "This is a history, going back to the 1830s [with] minstrel shows. To demean and denigrate a race wasn't right. I'm old enough to have lived through Amos 'n' Andy where you had white people in blackface playing two black characters just magnifying the stereotypes about black people. And that's what the big problem is. ... No good comes from it. It's just not right."

Before her on-air apology, Kelly apologized to her coworkers via email (via People). Saying that she was sorry, she wrote, "The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep."