Megyn Kelly Tearfully Apologizes to Viewers After Defending Blackface in Halloween Costumes

Megyn Kelly began her NBC show on Wednesday with an emotional apology.

Megyn Kelly began her NBC show on Wednesday with an emotional apology.

The 47-year-old journalist caused controversy on Tuesday on Megyn Kelly Today when she questioned if using blackface for Halloween costumes was actually racist, during a segment in which she slammed some universities for being overly politically correct in banning certain costumes. Kelly received serious backlash for her comments and later apologized to her colleagues in an internal email.

But Kelly made her apology public at the top of Wednesday's show, tearing up while explaining how her views on blackface have since changed after listening to others' points of view.

“Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the show," she began. "I'm Megyn Kelly and I want to begin with two words -- I'm sorry. You may have heard that yesterday we had a discussion here about political correctness and Halloween costumes. And that conversation turned to whether it is ever OK for a person of one race to dress up as another, a black person making their face lighter or a white person making theirs darker, to make a costume complete. I defended the idea saying as long as it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume, it seemed OK. Well, I was wrong and I am sorry."

"One of the great parts of sitting in this chair each day is getting to discuss different points of view," she continued. "Sometimes I talk and sometimes I listen, and yesterday, I learned. I learned that given the history of blackface being used in awful ways by racists in this country it is not OK for that to be part of any costume, Halloween or otherwise. I have never been a ‘PC’ kind of person but I do understand the value in being sensitive to our history, particularly on race and ethnicity. This past year has been so painful for many people of color, the country feels so divided, and I have no wish to add to that pain and offense. I believe this is a time for more understanding, more love, more sensitivity and honor and I want to be part of that. Thank you for listening and for helping me listen, too.”

Later in the show, Kelly sat down with PBS' In Principle co-host Amy Holmes and Roland Martin of the digital show Roland Martin Unfiltered to further discuss the lines between dressing up in costume and racial mockery. Kelly was criticized on Tuesday for her discussion on blackface with an all-white panel made up of Jenna Bush Hager, Melissa Rivers and Jacob Soboroff.

Kelly was noticeably fired up on Tuesday during her segment on Halloween costumes. 

"I mean, truly, political correctness has gone amok," she said about various costumes like cowboys, "anything Mexican-based" and nuns being reportedly banned by some universities. "There are strict rules on what you may and may not wear by someone who thinks is the boss of you."

"What is racist?" Kelly later specifically questioned about using blackface for costumes. "You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK just as long as you were dressing as a character."

"There was a controversy on The Real Housewives of New York with Luann, as she dressed as Diana Ross and she made her skin look darker than it really is," she later brought up. "People said that that was racist! And I don't know, like, I thought, like, 'Who doesn't love Diana Ross?' She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day. I don't know how that got racist on Halloween. It's not like she's walking around [wearing blackface] in general."

The comments didn't sit well with a number of celebrities, including Today's Al Roker. 

"The fact is, while she apologized to the staff, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country because this is our history, going back to the 1830s," Roker said on-air on Wednesday prior to Kelly's public apology. "Minstrel shows meant to denigrate a race, you know, I am old enough to have lived through Amos & Andy, where you had white people in blackface playing the black characters just magnifying the worst stereotypes about black people."

Good Morning America's Robin Roberts also slammed Kelly's segment on Wednesday's show.

"Of course, a lot of people are commenting on this.... The panel, you're going to have this discussion, perhaps you should have a more diverse panel that can challenge her when she's making those types of statements," Roberts said. "And to not know the historical significance of that..."

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