'Megyn Kelly Today' has been cancelled

Megyn Kelly's future at NBC is in doubt. Even Kelly's own colleagues pulled no punches when covering comments made by Kelly about blackface Halloween costumes.

Posted: Oct 28, 2018 8:54 AM
Updated: Oct 28, 2018 9:05 AM

Some things don't go together: brussels sprouts and bubblegum; cats and canaries; Megyn Kelly and NBC News.

In each of those cases the mismatched mix should be obvious, but somehow NBC missed the telltale signs of how off and off-putting the combination of Kelly's views, especially on race relations, would be with NBC's own, more conventional positions. The network's top news executive, Andrew Lack, decided to woo Kelly away from her Fox News prime time show almost two years ago, and insert her in a starring role in the 9 a.m. timeslot for his network's long-running hit, the Today show.

Lack, who was hardly alone in media circles in pursuing Kelly, may have been blinded by a familiar malady of television executives: glamour glare. That's the effect that sometimes emanates from a glowing-hot on-air talent. It can lead to temporary loss of vision.

Events of recent months, especially of the past week, seem to indicate vision has been restored, though the cost of the fix -- $69 million -- might be deemed a tad pricey. That's not great news for Lack, it's fair to assume.

The denouement of the drama that has surrounded Kelly since the day she arrived at NBC seems to be upon us. The network formally canceled her show Friday with the expectation that she will have no further role at the network.

The experiment put in place by Lack -- having Kelly, who had been icily appealing on Fox News as a solo act, try to emulate Oprah Winfrey by playing warm and wise with a studio audience -- moved quickly from misbegotten to miserable. Ratings were tepid to worse, critical evaluation was scathing, internal dissension at NBC News over the move was widespread, and then there were those moments where fingernails met blackboards:

Comments that sounded like body shaming; guests that came away alienated (Jane Fonda, Debra Messing); the persistent awkwardness in performance; and the occasional whiff of what might kindly be labeled racial insensitivity. The past week brought intense focus on Kelly's tone-deaf dismissal as "politically correct" of the idea that African Americans take offense at white people in blackface. But she had a documented history of such insensitivity, having, during her Fox News days accused some in the black community of a "thug mentality."

And, of course there was her famous insistence that Santa Claus should never be portrayed by a black performer because he is -- though fictional --definitively white. You might be able to make a fair case that it could be a risk to hire anyone who cares that much about the race of Santa Claus.

NBC apparently shrugged off those concerns when it landed Kelly at what has been reported to be $23 million a year. The shrug included the decision to have her replace two black anchors, Tamron Hall and Al Roker, who were making far less money (and, as things have worked out, were drawing better ratings.)

Lack certainly has had a long and distinguished career in news, and retains high cards in his hand, including increasing ratings at MSNBC as well as the status of Today and NBC Nightly News, all of which he has played well. But for a time he seemed seduced by the idea of stretching the appeal of NBC News to followers of the new regime in Washington. Thus Hugh Hewitt, conservative radio host, got a show on MSNBC, by then established as a liberal stronghold, and Megyn Kelly, whose views only occasionally veered away from the usual Fox News right-tilted narrative, moved into what had been the neutral territory of Today's 9 a.m. hour.

Both those gambits have now foundered. At least Hewitt's sour note in MSNBC's otherwise left-leaning musical score didn't involve a lottery-ticket payoff.

Just how bad was the mistake of hiring Megyn Kelly? If it involves loud discord within the news division staff, low ratings, racially charged remarks, and a check that could fund the entire roster of a small-market baseball team, it likely qualifies as a mistake with little chance of going unnoticed.

If past is prologue, and it usually is in the television business, all of that could play a hand in future decisions about the leadership at NBC News.

It probably doesn't help that another recent NBC News talent decision has not worked out well either. Not too long after hiring Kelly, Lack made the call to let Ronan Farrow go -- just before his work won numerous prizes, including a Pulitzer for his reporting on the sexual improprieties of numerous media figures.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 484675

Reported Deaths: 9480
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33151493
Hinds31184589
DeSoto30803365
Jackson23735349
Rankin21390373
Lee14963221
Madison14206272
Jones13430227
Forrest13199241
Lauderdale11623307
Lowndes10501176
Lamar10258130
Pearl River9151221
Lafayette8268137
Hancock7534113
Washington7144152
Oktibbeha6989124
Monroe6533167
Neshoba6489201
Warren6486166
Pontotoc632993
Panola6278127
Marshall6165126
Bolivar6129145
Union576089
Pike5626138
Alcorn540590
Lincoln5310132
George473572
Scott461596
Leflore4495140
Tippah448180
Prentiss447979
Itawamba4457100
Adams4429117
Tate4420103
Wayne434667
Simpson4339114
Copiah432988
Yazoo423686
Covington417192
Sunflower4155104
Marion4111104
Coahoma3986100
Leake398286
Newton372375
Grenada3565104
Stone351360
Tishomingo338389
Attala325987
Jasper316062
Winston305691
Clay297374
Chickasaw287866
Clarke283290
Calhoun267741
Holmes262887
Smith252249
Yalobusha224347
Tallahatchie221150
Walthall211758
Greene209945
Lawrence207034
Perry201054
Amite199452
Webster196942
Noxubee179339
Montgomery172954
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162537
Tunica154235
Benton143035
Kemper138840
Choctaw128826
Claiborne127134
Humphreys127038
Franklin116928
Quitman104227
Wilkinson102036
Jefferson91533
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 790648

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1117431765
Mobile709021237
Madison50032633
Shelby36350315
Baldwin36278495
Tuscaloosa34034548
Montgomery33229678
Lee22712220
Calhoun21297410
Morgan19852335
Etowah19341462
Marshall17716274
Houston16862386
St. Clair15479305
Cullman14659258
Limestone14609188
Elmore14507264
Lauderdale13557281
Talladega13015236
DeKalb12214237
Walker10604330
Blount9735157
Autauga9691137
Jackson9400158
Coffee8934175
Dale8631173
Colbert8545184
Tallapoosa6688181
Escambia6599121
Covington6466167
Chilton6395144
Russell608755
Franklin5805101
Chambers5425134
Marion4818120
Dallas4713189
Clarke464079
Pike463297
Geneva4433117
Winston427395
Lawrence4124108
Bibb410281
Barbour347470
Marengo326485
Monroe320253
Butler318490
Randolph306656
Pickens306474
Henry302658
Hale293085
Cherokee290855
Fayette280373
Washington245548
Crenshaw238770
Cleburne236751
Clay229265
Macon220658
Lamar200443
Conecuh182046
Coosa170835
Lowndes170858
Wilcox159736
Bullock149543
Perry136537
Sumter124736
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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