Megyn Kelly apologises for asking why blackface is wrong

US news presenter Megyn Kelly has apologised for a segment in which she questioned why it was wrong to use blackface as part of a Halloween costume.

The host of Megyn Kelly Today wrote in an email to NBC News colleagues, a copy of which was later distributed by an NBC spokesperson, that: ”One of the wonderful things about my job is that I get the chance to express and hear a lot of opinions, Today is one of those days where listening carefully to other points of view, including from friends and colleagues, is leading me to rethink my own views.”

During the segment on her show, Kelly claimed that, when she was a child, it was acceptable to use blackface as long as you were impersonating a character. She also defended an incident on reality show The Real Housewives Of New York, in which LuAnn de Lesseps used blackface to dress up as Diana Ross. De Lesseps apologised for the costume at the time, but denied she used blackface.

“There was a controversy on The Real Housewives of New York with Luann, and she dressed as Diana Ross, and she made her skin look darker than it really is and people said that that was racist,” Kelly said. “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.”

“I haven’t seen it. I have not seen it, but it sounds a little racist to me,” MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff, who had joined Kelly for the segment, replied. Indeed, Kelly’s fellow panellists disagreed with her, as author and television host Melissa Rivers said: “If you think it’s offensive, it probably is. Whatever happened to just, manners and polite society?”

The segment was roundly criticised, not only for Kelly’s comments, but for the fact the panel failed to include a single non-white guest, and for the failure to discuss the brutal history of blackface.

Kelly’s note to her colleagues added: “When we had the roundtable discussion earlier today about the controversy of making your face look like a different race as part of a Halloween costume, I suggested that this seemed okay if done as part of this holiday where people have the chance to make themselves look like others.”

“The iconic Diana Ross came up as an example. To me, I thought, why would it be controversial for someone dressing up as Diana Ross to make herself look like this amazing woman as a way of honoring and respecting her? I realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry. The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep.”

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