'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.

Confirmed Cases: 29684

Reported Deaths: 1103
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds238239
DeSoto148616
Madison126734
Jones110449
Neshoba98171
Lauderdale90079
Rankin88812
Forrest85142
Harrison84210
Scott76215
Copiah59216
Jackson58416
Leake57019
Holmes54441
Wayne53513
Lee53218
Oktibbeha53226
Washington5319
Warren49618
Yazoo4936
Leflore48049
Lowndes47212
Lincoln44334
Lamar4407
Grenada4325
Pike40712
Monroe38830
Lafayette3774
Attala35823
Sunflower3467
Newton3389
Covington3345
Panola3256
Bolivar32114
Adams29318
Simpson2833
Pontotoc2736
Marion27011
Tate2709
Chickasaw26918
Claiborne25610
Jasper2566
Winston2546
Noxubee2538
Pearl River24832
Clay24710
Marshall2173
Smith21611
Clarke20524
Coahoma1916
Union1919
Walthall1804
Kemper17714
Lawrence1701
Yalobusha1677
Carroll16411
Itawamba1348
Humphreys1329
Calhoun1284
Tippah12811
Hancock12613
Webster12610
Montgomery1242
Tallahatchie1224
Jefferson Davis1094
Prentiss1023
Greene1018
Jefferson993
Tunica933
Wilkinson929
Amite892
George783
Tishomingo741
Quitman730
Choctaw724
Perry654
Alcorn631
Stone571
Franklin412
Sharkey340
Benton300
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4802152
Montgomery3947103
Mobile3904134
Tuscaloosa218842
Marshall168010
Lee130237
Madison12717
Shelby117623
Morgan10475
Walker90524
Franklin87814
Dallas8689
Elmore86414
Baldwin8289
Etowah70713
DeKalb6945
Butler62328
Chambers61227
Tallapoosa58369
Autauga56012
Russell5190
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4736
Limestone4660
Lowndes46321
Houston4614
Cullman4354
Pike4175
Colbert3836
Coffee3702
Bullock3679
St. Clair3472
Barbour3452
Covington3437
Escambia3326
Calhoun3225
Hale30621
Marengo30011
Talladega3007
Wilcox2898
Sumter28412
Clarke2726
Dale2680
Jackson2632
Winston2463
Monroe2312
Chilton2282
Blount2261
Pickens2226
Marion21413
Randolph2019
Conecuh1977
Choctaw19512
Bibb1861
Greene1838
Macon1819
Perry1621
Henry1313
Crenshaw1253
Lawrence1050
Washington1047
Cherokee857
Geneva780
Lamar751
Fayette671
Clay622
Coosa581
Cleburne361
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