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Media Should Be Red-Faced Over Coverage of Megyn Kelly's Blackface Scandal

Brett Davis

Posted on November 6, 2018 04:37

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Hyperbolic headlines on Megyn Kelly's apparent ouster from NBC as a result of her on-air comments about blackface left something to be desired in terms of accuracy.

As anyone not living under a rock knows by now, Megyn Kelly is out of NBC for the grievous sin of defending blackface. At least that’s how the media trumpeted the story. Business Insider, CNN, The Daily Beast, Huffington Post and Newsweek are just some of the news outlets that breathlessly reported the story as such – if their headlines are to be believed.

And that’s the problem. The headlines give a shockingly misleading impression. People have to actually read the stories to find out what Kelly really said about blackface, a form of theatrical makeup historically used to caricature and stereotype black people.

During a “Today” segment featuring a panel discussion on cracking down on offensive Halloween costumes, Kelly dared to ask, “But what is racist? Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was okay, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”

Referring to “Real Housewives of New York” star Luann de Lesseps being called racist for darkening her skin to dress as Diana Ross for Halloween, Kelly said the following: “And people said that was racist. And I don’t know! I thought like, who doesn’t love Diana Ross? She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day, and I don’t know that got racist on Halloween.” 

You can watch the entire “Today” conversation here.

While one could fairly characterize Kelly’s comments as ill-advised  – even ignorant, as Kelly herself did in a follow-up apology  – it strains credulity to believe the former Fox News host was endorsing a blatantly racist practice that gained popularity in the 19th century and contributed to the spread of pejorative racial stereotypes.

It’s hard to believe any serious member of the press could legitimately conclude that Kelly is a supporter of blackface and an all-around racist from the “Today” segment that looks to have ended her career at NBC. On the other hand, it’s very easy to ascribe a racist motive to a non-racist in pithy headlines that are not reflective of the actual facts. The real story here is how NBC used this incident as a convenient reason to get rid of Kelly, whose struggles at the network have been well documented.

At a time when “fake news” is now firmly entrenched in the zeitgeist, it would benefit all of us – Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, and everyone in between – if the news media in this country stuck to reporting what really happened on controversial issues without resorting to deceitful sound-bite headlines.

Brett Davis

Posted on November 6, 2018 04:37

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Source: TIME

Celebrities are hitting back at Megyn Kelly for saying that she doesn’t understand why blackface Halloween costumes...

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