If one were in need of confirmation that you, too, can get away with Bill O’Reilly’s type of racism so long as you’re a pretty, blond white woman, look no further than the news that Megyn Kelly is leaving Fox News for NBC.
According to reports, Kelly will host her own daytime talk show and anchor a Sunday-night news show in addition to taking part in the network’s political programming and other major-event coverage. For Kelly, this move—which will solidify her status as a mainstream journalist, as opposed to the paid propagandist she’s long served as—is a dream finally coming to fruition.
Last year Kelly made her intentions for the future of her career abundantly clear.
In an interview with the New York Times, the Fox News anchor was asked about a void being left in the wake of Barbara Walters’ retirement and Oprah Winfrey’s departure from daytime television to run a network, and how she could fill it.
“It’s there for the taking right now,” she noted. “Those were the biggest spots to go for an interview if you had something you wanted to get off your chest, if you were in the middle of a scandal or a major news story, and you wanted to do a long-form sit-down to get past it or to go on the record. And I’m here!”
Yes, Kelly is here, though there are two key differences between her and the likes of Winfrey and Walters.
If you watched Kelly’s first prime-time special, Megyn Kelly Presents, you know that as an interviewer, she remains in possession of glaring limitations. As Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox said in her review of the special, Kelly “is not, innately, a warm, embracing interviewer. But, more fundamentally, Kelly appears to be filling a role that only she wants to see filled.”
Some would refute her statement with the sentiment that with time, Kelly could rise to the occasion. Perhaps she could, but the question is, does she deserve the opportunity to do so based on the antics that have made her successful thus far? Unlike Walters and Winfrey, Kelly has made millions off the vilification of black people.
In 2010 Kelly spent an ample amount of air time during her 1-3 p.m. ET block (the purported “real news” portion of Fox News) covering the New Black Panther Party—namely, positioning it as a larger threat to white folks than it ever actually was. In the article “Megyn Kelly’s Minstrel Show,” Dave Weigel said of that period, “Watch her broadcasts and you become convinced that the New Black Panthers are a powerful group that hate white people and operate under the protection of Eric Holder’s DOJ.”
At the time, her own Fox colleague, Kirsten Powers, described Kelly as “doing the scary black man thing.”
Just last summer, Kelly was reunited with Malik Shabazz, a now former member of the New Black Panther Party. During their exchange, Shabazz complained about her attitude and mentioned white privilege. Kelly responded by telling Shabazz that when making such “insensitive statements … it’s hard to take you seriously.”
Playing the role of victim while aggressively stoking racial fears is a constant of her career at that network. When Kelly decided to take up the mantle of defending the race of Santa Claus in 2013, she said on Fox News, “Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change. Jesus was a white man, too. He was a historical figure. That’s a verifiable fact—as is Santa.” Jesus looking more like a man our president-elect would want to put on a watch list aside, Kelly went on to lament those who possess “the knee-jerk instinct to race-bait.”
Speaking of baiting, Kelly said in 2015 that the Obama administration intended to force “too white [and] too privileged” communities to embrace diversity “whether the communities want it or not.” That same year, Kelly dismissed a DOJ report that found racial bias and stereotyping within the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department based on the notion that “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.”
Missing the point is a hallmark of Megyn Kelly’s career as a television personality.
And let us never forget that Kelly—who, in the wake of falling victim to sexist attacks from Habanero Hitler Donald J. Trump, was championed as a “feminist icon”—described a black girl needlessly tackled by police at a pool party as “no saint.” Then again, this is the same woman who once declared that a speech by first lady Michelle Obama played into a “culture of victimization.” A woman who invoked racial stereotypes to portray Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as temperamental.
Evidence of Kelly’s on-air racism is far and wide. Couple that with the reality that outside of such shtick, she’s not particularly remarkable as an actual journalist, and it’s yet another sign to victims of her racism of how little regard this country has for us. About her move, Kelly wrote on Facebook, “While I will greatly miss my colleagues at Fox, I am delighted to be joining the NBC News family and taking on a new challenge.”
The most interesting thing about her feud with Peachy Pol Pot is that they both have the habit of stoking racial prejudices for professional gain. And like our next prez, this despicable trait has taken her to places where she doesn’t deserve to be. When they share space again, viewers will be treated to the sight of racism in its classic American form: the loud, cantankerous, vile white man and the white woman guilty of the same sin, smiling, with the same ugly sentiments on her breath.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.