Megyn Kelly did not host her NBC show Thursday and appears unlikely to return to mornings, according to multiple reports indicating she’s moved into negotiations for an exit deal.
Her sudden disappearance comes just two days after she pondered on the air why everyone was making such a big deal about blackface, prompting a cascade of public criticism from her co-workers and boss.
“What is racist?” Kelly asked of the racist act of darkening a white person’s skin to appear black. “When I was a kid, that was OK, as long you were dressing up as, like, a character.”
Kelly continued to defend the institution of blackface by pointing to the experiences of Luann de Lesseps, a cast member of “The Real Housewives of New York” who was criticized after darkening her skin to dress up as Diana Ross.
“She dressed as Diana Ross, and she made her skin look darker than it really is,” Kelly said in a tone that suggested she believes this is a perfectly normal thing for a person to do. “And people said that that was racist! And I don’t know, I felt like, ‘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.”
Kelly’s comments prompted an immediate backlash, punctuated with critical remarks from Today Show coworkers like Al Roker and Craig Melvin, and NBC News chairman Andy Lack. Kelly later apologized in a company-wide internal email to NBC staff, and then again on the air, the following day.
“I want to begin with two words, I'm sorry,” she began. “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,” Kelly said to a standing ovation from the studio audience.
Al Roker, who once had better ratings with a far smaller salary in the 9 a.m. slot that Kelly now occupies, said that her apology didn’t go far enough.
“The fact is, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the county,” he said. “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.”
It's not clear what Kelly's role with NBC will b
Adding to the drama, Kelly left her talent agency CAA this week and reportedly planned to sign with UTA, who had previously recommended her. However, UTA, according to Deadline, lost interest in the wake of her comments.
NBC did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
Cover image: MEGYN KELLY TODAY -- Pictured: Melissa Rivers, Jacob Soboroff, Jenna Bush Hager and Megyn Kelly on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)