Here’s the question: Is Megyn Kelly really a racist, or does she just play one on TV? And does it even matter?
Megyn Kelly, the iconic Fox News personality, is moving on up to NBC News, where she reportedly will have “a triple role in which she will host her own daytime news and discussion program, anchor an in-depth Sunday night news show and take regular part in the network’s special political programming and other big-event coverage.” This comes as former Fox colleague Gretchen Carlson guest-hosted NBC’s “Today Show,” and Greta Van Susteren is reportedly being considered for an MSNBC host spot.
Given her long record of making racially offensive comments on Fox News — a white nationalist entertainment station posing as a legitimate news outlet with real facts and such — exactly how is this going to work out? What will this look like? And will Kelly do any reporting on matters involving people of color, race and racism, Black Lives Matter and black political activism?
And does a news host who claims Jesus and Santa are white have anything to say that we need to hear? The prospects are frightening, and as frightening as America’s new president. Because the normalization — and the whitewashing — of Megyn Kelly goes hand in hand with the attempts to normalize Donald Trump.
Kelly leaves a long trail of troubling statements from her days at the right-wing propaganda mill.
In 2013, on the pressing issue of the racial identity of Santa Claus, Kelly once criticized a black author who suggested that Santa could be black and dispelled the notion that Santa should be anything other than white.
“And by the way for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white, but this person is just arguing that that maybe we should also have a black Santa. But you know Santa is what he is,” Kelly said.
And for the bonus points, Kelly went the extra mile, adding “Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change. You know, I mean Jesus was a white man — but you know it’s like we have here is a historical figure and that’s a verifiable fact as is Santa.”
At Fox News, Kelly loved the word “thug” and used it to describe the “anti-cop…thug mentality” that she sees in black communities. Because after all, who knows more about African-Americans and police than Megyn Kelly?
And there’s also culture, there’s also culture that develops, where it’s anti — it’s them versus us, it’s anti-cop. It’s sort of — people have called it the “thug mentality,” and that’s a controversial term. But that it’s cool to sort of hate the cops, and hang out — and be somebody who doesn’t necessarily prize being there for your family, and so on. And how do you reverse that?
In addition, Kelly she had harsh words for women who don’t look like her. Like when she slammed Dajerria Becton, the 15-year old black girl who was attacked by a crazed McKinney, Texas, police officer during a pool party.
“The girl was no saint, either,” Kelly said of Becton. “He had told her to leave, and she continued to linger. When a cop tells you to leave, get out.”
Kelly also blamed Sandra Bland for her own death, arguing “even if you know the cop is in the wrong, comply and complain later.” She accused Michele Obama of “whiny, wannabe-victimhood” for speaking out against racism, calling it a symptom of America’s “culture of victimization.” And she called Beyoncé “skanky” as “the new face of feminism.”
Kelly also justified the racist emails used by the Ferguson police department because “there are very few companies in America, whether they are public or private” where “you won’t find any racist emails [or] any inappropriate comments.” She also warned Fox viewers that Obama planned to forcibly diversify communities that are “too white [and] too privileged.” And she perpetuated the myth of the New Black Panthers using voter intimidation to hand Obama the presidency, an outrageous claim that fed Trump’s claims of a rigged 2016 election.
According to Angelo Carusone, the president of the watchdog group Media Matters, Megyn Kelly is a “pernicious purveyor of misinformation” and has used white racial anxiety to further her career. The group also notes that Kelly defended “anti-gay hate groups” and promoted Fox’s rightwing lies. Moreover, she waited until after the election to reveal that Fox News had shifted to positive coverage of Trump and that he had inside information on the question Kelly asked him at the first Republican primary debate.
Meanwhile, as Kelly may have rustled up some sympathy for herself as word spread about the sexual harassment she faced at Fox, the sexual advances from Roger Ailes, and disgusting sexist and misogynist comments from Trump, she cannot have it both ways.
Megyn Kelly should not have experienced sexual harassment. At the same time, much like white folks who voted for Trump, she also shouldn’t embrace white supremacy. And while I am certain that the slave master’s wife was abused by her husband back on the plantation, I imagine she benefited from her white privilege and, in turn, took it out on the slaves.
Ultimately, Kelly deserves about as much sympathy as Clarence Thomas after he sexually harassed Anita Hill, yet claimed he was the victim of a “high-tech lynching” in his Senate confirmation hearing.
So, with Trump remaining the executive producer of “Celebrity Apprentice,” and with Megyn Kelly coming to NBC, the network has some bad optics on its hands. Assuming she believed everything she said about black people on Fox over the years, hiring Kelly is totally unacceptable. And if she didn’t believe the things she said, then she was clearly used as white nationalist eye candy and was paid well for it, which is just as repugnant.
But someone over at NBC has decided that is fine, because racism is a virtue in Trump’s America. The racism of Fox News is now mainstream, while the white supremacy of Breitbart.com is in the White House and running the country come Jan. 20.
Sadly, these days, you can get away with disrespecting black people, and in this case, even get a promotion for it. Megyn Kelly is proof that when you’re white and racist in Trump’s America, anything is possible.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove.