During a round-table discussion on Tuesday's segment, Kelly seemingly defended "blackface" and "white face" for the October holiday because it was "OK when I was a kid as long as you were dressing like a character.” She even backed "The Real Housewives of New York" star Luann de Lesseps, who was accused of darkening her skin while dressing up as Diana Ross.
"The iconic Diana Ross came up as an example," Kelly wrote in her apology. "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?”
After reflecting, Kelly told her colleagues in the letter, "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 (politically correct) 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.”
She continued: “This is a time for more understanding, love, sensitivity and honor, and I want to be part of that. I look forward to continuing that discussion. I’m honored to work with all of you every day.”
Earlier in the day during a panel discussion, Kelly questioned blackface when it comes to Halloween costumes choices.
"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," she said. "And back when I was a kid, that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character."
Kelly then mused about a recent blackface controversy to expand on her stance.
"There was a controversy on 'The Real Housewives of New York' with Luann (de Lesseps). She dressed as Diana Ross, and she made her skin look darker than it really is. And people said that that was racist. And I don’t know!" she explained. "I thought like, who doesn’t love Diana Ross? She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day, and I don’t know how that got racist on Halloween."
Her comments were rejected by the group at the "Today" table and plenty of people on social media reacted similarly:
Actor Patton Oswalt took to Twitter to disagree with Kelly, saying blackface was "NOT okay" when they were kids, which she claimed.
"Dear @megynkelly – you and I are approximately the same age. Blackface was NOT okay when we were kids," he tweeted. Take it from a big-hearted boy who just wanted to show his love for Nipsey Russell on the worst Halloween of my life."
Stand-up comic W. Kamau Bell also called out Kelly on Twitter.
"[email protected] - 'I don't get why Black face is so offensive?," he tweeted. "Also @megynkelly - 'KIDS, NEVER FORGET SANTA CLAUS IS WHITE!!!'"
"Megyn Kelly is proof that being book smart doesn’t prevent you from being an ignorant moron!" on Twitter user wrote.
"When Megyn Kelly reminds you why she was so popular on Fox News..." another wrote.
"@megynkelly is really out here discussing what the 'big deal about blackface is......OPEN A HISTORY BOOK! Why aren’t there black people on this discussion?" another tweeted.
"Megyn Kelly not understanding anything about racism? Ya don’t say..." another tweeted.
"Can someone please explain to me why Megyn Kelly still has a job?" another tweeted.
Some also pointed out the the lack of diversity on the panel.
"You have an all white panel to discuss why it is/isnt offensive for white ppl to wear a black face .. Hmmm," one person tweeted.
"That panel sounds about white," another tweeted.
"a panel of four white people is the seventh circle of Hell," another said.
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Contributing: Carly Mallenbaum, Cydney Henderson