The first time I saw a clip of “The Kelly File,” I watched as a diverse panel of four white people prepared to discuss Santa Claus’ race. That’s when Megyn Kelly said the words that had me questioning everything I knew to be true.
“Jesus was a white man too … he was a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa.”
You know, Santa. That historical figure known for breaking into people’s houses in the middle of the night and leaving them presents. He’s in all the textbooks. Just look under the Easter Bunny and above the Tooth Fairy, you should be able to find him.
After watching that clip, I clicked on more videos. I watched Kelly say things like “Even if you know the cop is in the wrong, comply and complain later,” when talking about Sandra Bland’s arrest. Classic example of white people trying to police how black people react to oppression.
In 2010, Kelly devoted two hours and subsequently 45 separate segments over two weeks, to how the Obama White House and Justice Department handled the two members of the New Black Panthers Party who were briefly charged with voter intimidation.
She painted this pretty little narrative of Barack Obama and then Attorney General Eric Holder working to promote hostility towards white voters and protect the New Black Panther Party. The more I watched the more I began to understand the subtle racial demagoguery Megyn Kelly had mastered to a T.
So when I turned on “Megyn Kelly Today,” I was shocked to see that this had all but disappeared.
The NBC morning show is not a new format. The set consists of loud blue accent chairs, even louder purple throw pillows and the background is a tacky view of New York City. It looks like the Today Show has always looked. The only thing that sticks out, frankly like a sore thumb, is Kelly’s uncomfortable attempts at sincerity.
After her TED Talk of a monologue, her husband came out of the audience with flowers. In case viewers weren’t sure, Kelly announced it was a surprise and a big deal because he’s not a TV person. It was really a lovely, totally unorchestrated moment that made me believe in love all over again.
Beyond the fact that Kelly is clearly out of her element interviewing the cast of Will and Grace, she seems to be at least attempting to shed the political capital she acquired during her tenure at Fox News. During the monologue at the top of her new show she also announced that she was done with politics for now and she wanted to focus on making people happy.
Veiled behind the level of privilege required to be able to take the current political climate and neatly put it away so it doesn’t get in the way of your life, is Kelly’s impossible mission to separate herself from her history as one of the chief culprits in perpetuating the rhetoric that made room for said political climate.
Kelly spent 12 years at Fox News delegitimizing, criminalizing and misrepresenting people of color and we’re supposed to forgive her and treat her like she’s the new Kelly Ripa because she went on Ellen and said she was never a political person, that she only ever wanted to cover the news. She’s the palatable version of Ann Coulter and we have to pick our battles.
I’m very aware that the fabric of American culture is contingent on who gets to be innocent and who gets to be forgiven. Sean Spicer’s stint at the Emmys made that abundantly clear. So I personally choose to vehemently decline Kelly’s request to peacefully enter mainstream consciousness with no consequences for her past.
She is more than guilty of giving a platform for hate and maintaining the stereotypes and narratives that are literally lethal for black and brown people. You can take the girl off of Fox News, but you can’t make her believe that Santa wasn’t a white man.