Megyn Kelly became my idol about five minutes into the beginning of my political obsession.
I was immediately drawn to how she called out politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle. I admired her professionally and personally. And despite the recent backlash she has faced, I still do.
Kelly came under fire after a segment about costumes and cultural appropriation on her NBC Today show. In the segment, Kelly expressed her dismay and disillusion with a Kent University ban on certain costumes related to cultures, religions, ethnicities and races. Kelly and her panelists said while these costumes can be dumb and offensive, they should not be banned by any entity that deems themselves an authority.
“But 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 who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character,” Kelly said during the segment.
Kelly soon apologized by sending an internal email to her staff and colleagues. She later appeared teary-eyed in a segment which she apologized to her viewers.
“Today is one of those days where listening carefully to other points of view, including from friends and colleagues, is leading me to rethink my own views. 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,” Kelly wrote in the email to her colleagues at NBC.
Despite this apology, “Megyn Kelly Today” was canceled and the backlash has continued on.
Kelly deserves to be reprimanded. What Kelly said was insensitive, and wrong. NBC and others were right to condemn what she said.
But, most all of us make insensitive, dumb mistakes. We are all insensitive at times to other people and those who are not exactly like us — even though I wish we weren’t. But everyone will go through teachable moments, and what matters is that someone allows themselves to be taught. In this case, Kelly did.
She opened herself up to her colleagues, listened and learned. She admitted wrongdoing and recognized that her apology hurt people, and for good reason. By doing this, she taught her viewers and followers an important lesson: you aren’t right about everything.
This quality of being teachable is important in any person, but especially in someone who is as powerful of an influencer as Kelly is. Kelly has served as a face for some conservative women, especially those who aren’t particularly fond of President Donald Trump after she became infamous for standing up to him.
In the face of her stupid mistake, many young women have lost a role model. One that isn’t perfect, but never claimed to be.
Elizabeth Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EJMarshall_.
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