Megyn Kelly Is Under Fire for Defending Blackface

According to Megyn Kelly, blackface — specifically, when used for Halloween costumes — isn't offensive.

The admission came during Tuesday's episode of Megyn Kelly Today, which the NBC host began by saying, "I have to give you fair warning, I'm a little fired up over Halloween costumes."

Kelly soon launched into a heated discussion with panelists Melissa Rivers, Jenna Bush Hager, and NBC's Jacob Soboroff. "Truly, political correctness has gone amok," Kelly said. "There are strict rules on what you may and may not wear, issued by someone who thinks they're the boss of you."

She specifically cited the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, which wants to ban students from dressing up with things like Mexican sombreros. "You can’t wear anything Mexican-based," Kelly said. "You cannot dress as a Native American. That’s apparently been some rule for a long time. You can’t dress as a nun. I mean, isn’t the purpose of Halloween to dress up and pretend you’re something other than yourself?"

Kelly continued, "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 that puts on whiteface for Halloween. And back when I was a kid, that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character."

Things only got worse. 

"There was a controversy on The Real Housewives of New York with Luann, as she dressed as Diana Ross, and she made her skin look darker than it really is," Kelly said, referring to Luann de Lesseps' Halloween costume last year. "And people said that 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? I don’t know how that got racist on Halloween. It’s not like she’s walking around in general."

The comments sparked immediate backlash. Patton Oswalt, Shannon Fisher, and Padma Lakshmi were among those who condemned Kelly.

Within a few hours, NBC released an apologetic email that Kelly sent to her coworkers. "To me, I thought, why would it be controversial for someone dressing up as Diana Ross to make herself look like this amazing woman as a way of honoring and respecting her?" Kelly wrote. "I realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry. The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep. I’ve never been a ‘pc’ kind of person — but I understand that we do need to be more sensitive in this day and age. Particularly on race and ethnicity issues which, far from being healed, have been exacerbated in our politics over the past year."

Kelly's no stranger to controversy. In 2013, as a Fox News host, she insisted that Santa Claus was white.