Update 2: And it's confirmed:
- MEGYN KELLY FIRED FROM NBC FOLLOWING BLACKFACE SEGMENT - SOURCES: NBC
Meanwhile, Fox News has issued a statement on the rumors that Kelly is in talks to return to the network...
Fox News, asked if Megyn Kelly might return to the network, tells me: “We are extremely happy with our entire lineup.”— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) October 25, 2018
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Update: It appears Megyn Kelly will not be returning to "Today" - not tomorrow, not ever.
That's according to a story in the Daily Mail, which confirmed on Thursday afternoon that the former Fox News star has agreed to leave the network after she defended the use of black face in Halloween costumes during a panel discussion on Tuesday, triggering an intense backlash that reverberated across twitter.
But while the damage to Kelly's reputation and career from her brief but disastrous stint at NBC may be irreparable, at least she will walk away with the entirety of her $69 million contract, thanks to the "no-break" deal she reportedly signed when she announced she would be joining the network in January 2017, after declining to renew her contract at Fox News. The timing of her departure announcement is still TBD, but the deal is as good as done, one executive said.
'Megyn Kelly is done. She is not ever coming back,' said an NBC executive with knowledge of the situation.
'We are just working out timing of the announcement but mark my work – she is gone and will never be seen on NBC live again.'
The source then added: 'Here’s the worst part – her deal is a non-break deal – so she walks away with all that money. It’s disgusting and heads should roll here because of it.'
A spokesperson for NBC declined to comment at this time.
Several NBC executives, who reportedly spoke with the DM under cover of anonymity, offered some scathing quotes about Kelly and the management team that hired her, suggesting that Kelly may not be the only one leaving the network - as everybody responsible for her "$100 million sh*tshow" will likely be shown the door.
At the same, an NBC executive told DailyMail.com that Kelly will not be missed at the network.
'That hour used to be a ratings hit with Al Roker and Tamron Hall and it was relatively inexpensive to produce,' said the executive.
'Now viewers get to witness the greatest example of white privilege on television. She defended blackface. I mean how is this acceptable in any way? She needs to go.'
That same executive was also critical of the decision to hire Kelly, questioning why Andy Lack and Noah Oppenheim had not already gotten rid of the $69 million woman.
'Andy and Noah need to own this mistake and fire her. There shouldn't be a place for someone with these views to remain on NBC News,' said that executive.
'Andy and Noah both should be held accountable too. They gave her the $69 million and all she has delivered is scandal after scandal. Add production costs and they are responsible for a $100 million dollar s*** show at 9am every morning.'
But while Kelly would seemingly have few options for employment after her departure from NBC, the Daily Mail reported that her people are in preliminary talks for Kelly to possibly return "home" to the cable news channel that made her: Fox News. Its audience, which is notoriously opposed to PC culture, would probably laugh off the black face scandal.
If she does indeed return to Fox, the argument could be made that Kelly actually benefited from the scandal - after all, it's giving her an excuse to end a relationship that's clearly not working, keep her enormous pay package, and return to Fox, where viewers will likely welcome her back with open arms.
...It's almost as if this was her plan the entire time...
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Amid a flurry of reports that "Megyn Kelly Today" is on the verge of cancellation, the former Fox News host skipped Thursday's taping of her eponymous 9 am show as NBC instead aired a previously-taped episode. Her absence comes as the one-time cable news wunderkind is reportedly negotiating her exit package from the network, where she currently earns more than $15 million a year (a staggering sum for a host whose show has consistently underperformed in the ratings amid a rash of controversies) as she deals with the fallout of what's perhaps her biggest scandal to date: Her bizarre decision to defend wearers of black face.
Two days ago, Kelly asked during a panel discussion about inappropriate Halloween costumes "what is racist" about white people wearing black face and black people wearing white face, adding that "back when I was a kid that was okay as long as you were dressing up as a character."
Megyn Kelly wonders what the big deal is about blackface pic.twitter.com/07yvYDuAYe— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) October 23, 2018
Her words triggered an almost immediate flurry of outrage, and the next day, Kelly delivered a tearful apology on her show, saying she was "sorry" to have contributed to the divisiveness that is already tearing America apart.
"I want to begin with two words, I'm sorry..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..Thank you for listening and for helping me listen too." Megyn Kelly pic.twitter.com/6hHrvZLNvK— Megyn Kelly TODAY (@MegynTODAY) October 24, 2018
Kelly's show on Friday will also reportedly be pre-taped, according to Mediaite, as speculation intensifies about when - or if - Kelly will return. Adding fuel to the fire of speculation, Kelly last night parted ways with her agents at CAA, one of the country's premier talent agencies.
Less than two years after signing with the network and a little more than a year after making her network debut, the network, frustrated by her repeated stumbles, is showing Kelly "no mercy." Sources close to NBC News President Andy Lack told CNN that "Kelly’s show will be ending" and that "she is unlikely to return" later. Kelly's move to NBC from Fox in January 2017 was the subject of breathless coverage in the media. Despite coming to public prominence after declaring in 2013 that "Santa Claus is white" during her show on Fox News, Kelly became a liberal media darling (see this laughable puff piece published three years ago in the NYT Magazine) and endured years of speculation that she would move to a more "mainstream" network once her contract with Fox ran out. However, Kelly got off to a rough start at NBC, as her ratings lagged and she became mired in controversy almost immediately after asking an audience member if watching the show "Will & Grace" was how he "became gay."
Kelly will be the second "Today" host to leave the show in the past year (after Matt Lauer was felled by a #MeToo controversy in late 2017) and is set to prove, once again, that for many alumni of Fox News, building a career after leaving the cable news giant is much more easily said than done, as the Ringer pointed out.