Kelly's offensive comments about Blackface Halloween costumes on Tuesday have raised more questions about her future on NBC. The spokesmen for NBC News declined to comment, and most of the employees of the news division remain in the dark.
The controversy on Tuesday became national news and fueled disappointment and resentment within NBC, according to multiple sources on the network.
Kelly began her program on Wednesday by apologizing for the comments made the day before. His audience gave him a standing ovation, but the disappointment within NBC News is profound and not likely to go away soon.
NBC News President Andy Lack condemned his racially insensitive comments during a town hall meeting with staff Wednesday morning. (The meeting was scheduled long before the controversy arose).
The lack led to the hiring of Kelly and defended his show at 9 a.m. But this week its news division has covered Kelly's controversy over multiple programs. Instead of promoting the "Today" program as a happy family, NBC has broadcast the family's struggle, giving time to Al Roker and others who strongly criticized Kelly's comments.
The black talk on Tuesday, with a completely white panel of guests, was a big false step. But Kelly's grudge is about more than one segment.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday night that Kelly and Lack "discussed a possible cut of their part of the program" Today "by the end of the year," that is, the talks prior to this week's controversy. .
Kelly has many critics and rivals within the famous news division: people who say that she should never have been hired by Fox News, certainly not for such a large salary, and not for a morning show like "Megyn Kelly Today."
These NBC staff members routinely call Kelly & # 39; s "disaster" and other derogatory terms.
Most of the anger is not directed at her, exactly, but at the management of NBC News, the men who hired her out of Fox in January 2017.
"We're lucky to have it," Lack said on the day his new agreement was announced.
At that time, some other television executives agreed. After all, there was a bidding war for Kelly when it became clear that she wanted to leave Fox.
Lack called her "exceptional journalist and news anchor."
But Kelly was best known for her fiery segments in Fox's conservative prime-time schedule. There was a widespread concern that she was being a disaster on NBC.
The network said it would have two main jobs: a talk show at 9 a.m. and a news magazine on Sunday night. His reported salary of $ 23 million per year for three years, totaling $ 69 million, became a scandal within NBC, even before it started broadcasting.
Kelly's morning show premiered in September 2017. Television critics found much to criticize. And Kelly had some early setbacks, such as an uneasy exchange with Jane Fonda that made headlines for a long time afterwards.
Some of the controversies aroused curiosity about his new show, but mostly it caused embarrassment and made fun of how long it would be on NBC. The most important thing is that the show at 9 a.m. did not meet the qualification expectations.
As the Wall Street Journal put it in a headline earlier this year, "NBC bet $ 69 million on Megyn Kelly, then the viewers disappeared."
Kelly's rivals noted that the previous iteration of 9 a.m. It was more profitable when Roker and Tamron Hall were the hosts. That's partly because they were paid much less.
Some people in the television business said that Kelly was given bad career advice. Others said that NBC was not realistic about the expectations of their program. And others said that Kelly's talent was not easily transferable from Fox to other networks.
NBC featured Kelly's Sunday news magazine, but the program did not last long. As predicted, he suffered in the standings against long-term competitors such as "60 minutes", and was hampered by programming problems.
In the air, Kelly's morning show has achieved some victories, her show has been full of fascinating conversations and sincere interviews. But it is still a lagging rating. And the blackface controversy reinforces the perception, for the general public, that Kelly is a Fox News personality, not a member of the "Today" family.
During Tuesday's offensive segment, Kelly said she was fine when she was growing up for white people to disguise themselves as black characters, and spoke out against a controversy that arose last year about a reality star who played Diana Ross.
"But what is racist?" Kelly asked. "Because you get in trouble if you're a white person who puts on a black face on Halloween, or a black person who puts on a white face for Halloween." Before, when I was a child, it was okay, as long as you disguised yourself as, Like, a character. "
Later in the day, Kelly apologized to her colleagues in an email: "Today is one of those days when listening attentively to other points of view, even from friends and colleagues, is leading me to rethink my own opinions."
On Tuesday night, "NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt" covered Kelly's story when few other networks paid close attention. Roker, Melvin and other cast members of "Today" had a remarkably candid conversation about the controversy during the 7 a.m. of the show on Wednesday.
The situation demonstrates the continued restlessness and disorder in NBC News about Kelly, whose hiring and installation in the morning hours of the network was controversial.
Roker said that "she owes a bigger apology to people of color throughout the country."
His strong words expressed a point of view shared by many within the news organization.
"Today," colleague Craig Melvin also voiced Kelly's comments for being "stupid" and "indefensible." He noted that this controversy is an opportunity to inform people, but said that most people already knew how offensive the black face is.