Megyn Kelly backtracked Tuesday after she caused an uproar by questioning why people wearing blackface on Halloween is such a big issue.
The NBC talk show host garnered a wave of backlash after she suggested on “Megyn Kelly Today” that she doesn’t understand the problem with a practice that’s widely considered to be offensive and racist.
“There was a controversy on ‘The Real Housewives of New York’ with Luann (de Lesseps), as she dressed as Diana Ross, and she made her skin look darker than it really is, and people said that that was racist,” Kelly said on the show. “And I thought, ‘Who doesn’t love Diana Ross?’ She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day. I don’t know how, like, that got racist on Halloween. It’s not like she’s walking around (like that) in general.”
Her comments came during a panel discussion with Jenna Bush Hager, Melissa Rivers and Jacob Soboroff, who contended that wearing blackface is offensive.
Earlier in the segment, Kelly asked “what is racist?” while discussing the topic, before saying of blackface or whiteface, “When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”
Kelly’s remarks were immediately slammed by a wave of social media users, including TV personality Padma Lakshmi.
“I cannot believe the ignorance on this in 2018. You are on national television,” Lakshmi tweeted. “You have a responsibility to educate yourself on social issues @megynkelly. This is so damaging.”
Comedian Patton Oswalt also called out Kelly.
“Dear @megynkelly — you and I are approximately the same age. Blackface was NOT okay when we were kids,” Oswalt wrote. “Take it from a big-hearted boy who just wanted to show his love for Nipsey Russell on the worst Halloween of my life.”
Washington Post reporter Eugene Scott, meanwhile, pointed out that every member of the panel discussing the topic is white.
“Did anyone consider including a person with a black face on this panel about blackface?” he tweeted.
Kelly, 47, apologized for her comments to her colleagues in an email obtained by the Daily News. In the email, Kelly wrote that listening to others about the issue had prompted her to “rethink my own views.”
“When we had the roundtable discussion earlier today about the controversy of making your face look like a different race as part of a Halloween costume, I suggested that this seemed okay if done as part of this holiday where people have the chance to make themselves look like others. The iconic Diana Ross came up as an example. To me, I thought, why would it be controversial for someone dressing up as Diana Ross to make herself look like this amazing woman as a way of honoring and respecting her?” Kelly wrote.
“I realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry,” she continued. “The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep.”
Kelly went on to say that she doesn’t consider herself to be “pc,” but saw the need to be “more sensitive in this day and age.”
“This is a time for more understanding, love, sensitivity and honor, and I want to be part of that,” Kelly wrote. “I look forward to continuing that discussion.”
This isn’t the first time Kelly has prompted tremendous criticism for her stance on a racially charged topic. Kelly also argued that Santa and Jesus are both white during a Fox News segment in 2013, responding to an article published by Slate.com in which the author opines that Santa should no longer be portrayed as a white male.
“By the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white, but this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa,” Kelly said on the show. “But Santa is what he is, and just so you know, we’re just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids.”
Reps for NBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Kelly’s blackface comments.