This is not a defense of Megyn Kelly. This is a defense of sanity.
If you’ve not watched the six-minute or so segment that’s the heart and soul of what’s being used to show Kelly as a racist, stop reading, go back and watch — because the headlines and stories and criticisms that have come like pelting hail upon her head have little to do with truth and everything to do with misinformation.
Here’s a sample: “Megyn Kelly Doesn’t Think Blackface Halloween Costumes Are A Big Deal,” blasted one headliner to the “Breakfast Club’s Donkey of the Day” YouTube clip.
Or this: “Megyn Kelly’s ‘blackface’ comments show her true face,” CNN slammed.
Or this: “Megyn Kelly was making racist comments long before ‘blackface.’ NBC hired her anyway,” USA Today blasted.
All that — because Kelly hosted a six-minute on-air discussion with three guests about the politically correct nature of Halloween, and how it’s changed through the years.
“This year the costume police are cracking down like never before,” she said, speaking of one United Kingdom university’s apparent message to students about the dos and don’ts of costume choices. “You may no longer dress like a cowboy … you’re not allowed to dress like Harvey Weinstein … you can’t wear anything Mexican based … you cannot dress as a Native American … a nun … I mean, it’s like, isn’t the whole purpose of Halloween to dress up and pretend you are something other than yourself?”
The audience applauded. Guest panelist Jenna Bush Hager said she was a “little surprised about the cowboy because my girls have both been cowboys, they wore the costumes that I wore when I was little living in Texas. And this is the thing: Cowboys do dress like that.”
Moving on — guest Melissa Rivers spoke about her mother dressing as a pregnant bride.
“It’s so absurd,” Kelly said. “Who comes up with these rules, and you know what they’re saying you can dress as — there’s a list of what you can dress as: letters of the alphabet. … I said to my team, you know Doug and I are going to go together, I’m gonna go as ‘F’ and he can go as ‘U.’ “
The audience cheered.
“Give me a break,” Kelly said.
“See now that was like a page how I was raised and how I raised my son,” Rivers said to Kelly. “So I feel very connected to you with that one.”
The panel then discussed another off-limits’ costume — Anne Frank.
“Freedom of expression is a beautiful thing, so is freedom of speech. It’s part of why I like living in the United States of America,” said guest Jacob Soboroff. “If you’re going to dress like an idiot, act like an idiot and actually dress and be racist, then somebody should say something to somebody. But you should still be able to dress like a moron.”
And it was in that context, with that lead-in, that Kelly said this: “What is racist? Because it’s true, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character.”
That was it. Fact, not opinion, people. And then the conversation simply rolled on.
Soboroff said this: “If somebody feels like something is offensive to them then you should say it and that’s fair game.”
The conversation turned to dressing as a Nazi.
“Whatever happened to just manners and polite society? … Normal people kind of know where that line is,” Rivers said. “I mean, I have a son that dressed as a fireman with an ax and then insisted on carrying the ax around for like a week.”
Then Kelly said this: “There was a controversy on ‘The Real Housewives of New York’ with Luann, and she dressed as Diana Ross and she made her skin look darker than it really is and people said that was racist. And I don’t know, I felt like, who doesn’t love Diana Ross? She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day, I don’t know how, like, that got racist on Halloween. It’s not like she’s walking around in general.”
That’s it. That’s the extent of Kelly’s comments on the matter.
Rivers joked with this — “If she really wanted to look like Diana Ross, she should’ve dressed like Michael Jackson” — and then the panel moved on.
From that, Kelly’s been forced into a near-tearful apology, been condemned by fellow NBCers and outside media commentators and hosts, and seen her cable position crumble.
“The fact is, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country,” said “Today” meteorologist Al Roker. “I’m old enough to have lived through Amos ‘n’ Andy where you had white people in blackface playing two black characters just magnifying stereotypes about black people. And that’s what the big problem is.”
And from CNN, this: “Has Megyn Kelly broadcast her last show on NBC?”
This is ridiculous. This is a despicable character assassination. And it’s a political correctness that’s far off the reservation of truth.
Utter insanity — and anyone who values honesty, freedom of speech and once again, honesty, needs to speak up for Kelly. It’s not about Kelly; it’s about the principle of right versus wrong, truth versus lie. That’s all.
And actually, that’s everything.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.