The dramatic departure of Megyn Kelly from NBC—after she defended blackface—has left the network with a huge hole in its Election Night coverage of the midterms’ results.
Page Six reports today that executives were left scrambling to fill her shoes for the broadcast, as long-standing plans to feature Kelly heavily in its coverage were in place before her ill-considered comments.
NBC sent out a press release before the scandal broke announcing that Kelly would front the broadcast alongside NBC heavyweights Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, and Chuck Todd, Page Six adds, but that plan was left in tatters by the departure of the shamed former star over her racist remarks.
The intention to deploy Kelly on Election Night was of a piece with reports that executives were looking to reposition her in political news after she struggled to connect with viewers on the third hour of the Today show, which quickly became a ratings disaster.
The final nail in the coffin came Monday, when NBC put out a clip that nixed Kelly from the lineup, with Holt, Guthrie, and Todd at the desk for The Vote: America’s Future, a special live broadcast.
NBC News declined to comment on the record, but a source told Page Six that Kelly is “not going to be part of Election Night coverage,” while “exit negotiations” are underway.
Kelly is said to be demanding payment of her three-year, $69m contract in full, together with an extra $10m compensation.
Meanwhile, Kelly’s former Fox News colleague Bill O’Reilly claimed Kelly was only pushed out of NBC because of her terrible ratings, and would have survived the scandal if she had better numbers.
O’Reilly said in an interview Monday with the Washington Examiner that Kelly’s demise was “preordained” by NBC executives.
However, he expressed shock at Kelly’s remarks saying: “I was surprised that Ms. Kelly did not understand... the horrible history of blackface in this country… That this technique, if you will, was used to marginalize denigrate and mock blacks. That was its primary use. So you can’t justify it by saying you were a kid and it wasn’t a big deal. It was a big deal.”