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NBC Cancels ‘Megyn Kelly Today' Following Blackface Controversy

The announcement comes as Kelly is in talks with NBC News about her future at the network

NBC News canceled "Megyn Kelly Today" on Friday following a firestorm of criticism surrounding Megyn Kelly's remarks about the use of blackface, the anchor's exit coming barely more than a year since the show's premiere. 

“Megyn Kelly Today is not returning. Next week, the 9 a.m. hour will be hosted by other TODAY co-anchors,” an NBC spokesperson said.

The announcement comes as Kelly is in talks with NBC News about her future at the network, which sources said were likely to include her leaving the company.

A lawyer for Megyn Kelly says that she remains an employee of NBC News following the cancellation of her morning show and negotiations about "next steps" are ongoing.

Attorney Bryan Freedman did not elaborate on the discussions in a statement issued Friday hours after Kelly's morning show was canceled.

The cancellation followed a segment about Halloween costumes Tuesday in which Kelly defended the use of blackface while discussing a cast member of "Real Housewives of New York City," who darkened her face for a Diana Ross costume. Kelly said it was acceptable when she was a kid when portraying a character.

Social media condemnation was swift, and Kelly apologized to fellow NBC staffers in an email later in the day. Yet both NBC's "Nightly News" and the "Today" show did stories on their colleague's comment. Al Roker said "she owes a big apology to people of color across the country."

Kelly opened Wednesday's show by saying she was wrong and sorry for what she said.

"I have never been a PC kind of person, but I do understand the value of being sensitive to our history, particularly on race and ethnicity," she said.

Kelly did not host "Megyn Kelly Today" as scheduled on Thursday and Friday mornings. She is in the middle of the second year of a three year contract, which reportedly pays her more than $20 million a year.

It wasn’t the first controversial comment Kelly made on her show since being hired away from Fox News. In "Megyn Kelly Today's" debut episode, she asked a fan of "Will & Grace" if he became gay because of the show. Soon afterward, Jane Fonda coldly changed the subject after Kelly asked about her plastic surgery.

In 2013, as an anchor at Fox News Channel, Kelly’s insistence that Santa Claus is white prompted another firestorm, and the remarks reverberated on social media this week given her comments about blackface. 

Kelly made her debut as NBC morning TV host on Sept. 25, 2017, taking over the 9 a.m. slot of "Today" and saying she wanted viewers "to have a laugh with us, a smile, sometimes a tear and maybe a little hope to start your day." She did cooking demonstrations and explored emotional topics.

She largely floundered with that soft-news focus and a pair of awkward and hostile interviews with Hollywood figures Jane Fonda and Debra Messing backfired with bad publicity. Kelly briefly found more of a purpose with the eruption of the #MeToo movement.

She made news when interviewing women who accused Trump of inappropriate behavior and spoke with accusers of Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, Bill O'Reilly, Roy Moore and Mark Halperin, as well as women who allege they were harassed on Capitol Hill.

Time magazine, which honored "The Silence Breakers" as its Person of the Year, cited Kelly as its leader in the entertainment field. The episode with Trump accusers had more than 2.9 million viewers, one of her biggest audiences.

But strains continued behind the scenes. Kelly last month publicly called for NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack to appoint outside investigators to look into why the network didn't air Ronan Farrow's stories about disgraced Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein and allowed him to take the material to the New Yorker. That's a particular sore point with NBC's management.

And her ratings have been consistently down from what "Today" garnered in the 9 a.m. hour before Kelly came on board. In its first year, Kelly's show averaged 2.4 million viewers a day, a drop of 400,000 viewers from the year before.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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