The HBO host defended Megyn Kelly after she was ousted by NBC over a controversial segment about blackface

By Aurelie Corinthios
January 27, 2020 02:39 PM

Bill Maher and Megyn Kelly may not agree on everything, but they’ve found a common enemy in “cancel culture.”

Kelly, 49, was a guest on Friday’s episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, where the host brought up Kelly’s ousting from NBC last year after a controversial segment about blackface during her Today show hour.

“We have a lot in common. We were both s—canned by major broadcast networks. I was s—-canned by ABC, you were s—canned by NBC,” said Maher, 64, whose late-night talk show Politically Incorrect was canceled in 2002 after his comment regarding the 9/11 attacks.

At the time, he took issue with characterizations of the hijackers as cowards, arguing that “we have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away.”

Meanwhile, NBC pulled Megyn Kelly Today off the air in October 2018 after Kelly questioned whether wearing blackface as part of a Halloween costume is actually racist during an all-white panel discussion.

On Real Time, Maher defended Kelly, saying he was “angry” on her behalf after NBC canceled her show.

“Because this cancel culture — it’s so funny, when they do polls, they find 80 to 90 percent of the people in this country hate this s—. Even liberals hate this s—,” he said. “This is one reason why Trump got elected, because people hate political correctness so much that they’ll even take it in the mouth of a werewolf when he’s not politically correct.”

“But when individual instances come up, everybody is so afraid to stand up,” he continued. “I mean, you even apologized for something that I didn’t think was that awful. Why can’t you just say, ‘Okay, I was a little inartful about how I expressed that. My bad, I’m sorry, move on with our lives,’ instead of, ‘No, you have to go away for all of time.’ Who are these perfect people who have never made any mistake?”

Kelly replied, “I mean, my own take on it is the country is going through something right now.”

“The marginalized groups are rising up and trying to find positions at the table — equal positions. And that’s a good thing. The difference is in approach, how do we do it?” she continued. “And I understand this fight, because as a woman … I have also felt marginalized at times and like I don’t have an equal footing.”

“But the question is, do we do it with grace and humanity and understanding that people make mistakes and that we’re all imperfect and we’re going to screw up, maybe more than once, and kindness and an understanding that we’re all only here for a limited time and we can’t expect a perfect score of any person?” she asked.

Maher blasted the “snowflakes” that called for Kelly’s firing.

“They’re gross, because all they care about is getting a scalp on the wall. They don’t care if you’re really a racist, which you’re not,” he said. “They always want to find the worst version of what any person is.”

Ultimately, Kelly said she hoped younger generations and older generations could “get back to talking to each other so there’s buy-in, so people feel heard, and so we allow for disagreement, [respect], kindness.”

Kelly has apologized for her blackface comments twice — first in an internal email to colleagues at the time, and then on-air the next day.

The anchor — who had signed a three-year, $23 million-a-year contract with NBC in 2017 — finalized her departure from the network in January 2019, with a source telling PEOPLE at the time, “The contract will be paid out, about $25-$30 million dollars.”

The 9 a.m. hour has since been taken over by Melvin, Roker, Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones, while Kelly has been focusing on her family and recently began conducting interviews on her Instagram Live.

Maher is no stranger to controversy himself. In 2017, he came under fire for using the n-word on Real Time during a conversation with Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse. He later apologized, in a statement and again on-air.