NBC News President Calls Megyn Kelly Hiring a 'Lesson' Learned: 'Sometimes You Take Big Swings'
Noah Oppenheim admitted, "We learned a lot from the experiment of having put her at 9 a.m."
Oppenheim spoke about Kelly’s brief tenure with NBC at SXSW Sunday, when he admitted that not all “big swings,” such as the hiring of the former Fox News host, pan out.
“I don’t think I would get much done if I spent any time thinking about how I would ‘rewrite history,’ ” he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Look, she’s obviously a talented journalist and a talented person. We learned a lot from the experiment of having put her at 9 a.m. She did some great work on a Sunday night magazine show that we were proud of. But, at the end of the day, in this business, sometimes you take big swings and they work out, and sometimes they don’t. But, the important thing is to learn whatever lesson you can and keep moving forward,” he continued.
Kelly’s Today show hour was canceled in October after she received immense backlash for questioning whether wearing blackface as part of a Halloween costume is actually racist during a segment.
“But what is racist? Because truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween,” Kelly, 48, said. “Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as like a character.”
The 9 a.m. Today show hour has since been taken over by Craig Melvin, Al Roker, Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones.
“This group of people who are familiar Today anchors, it helps us transition the audience from the 8 a.m. to the 9 a.m. hour I think more smoothly and more naturally,” Oppenheim said. “But, one of the lessons we were able to learn from the year that we were doing the Megyn show was that the audience at that time of morning is actually open to more substantive and more serious storytelling. … So, we’ve learned a lesson that’s allowed us to move forward in a successful way.”
Kelly apologized for her comments twice — first in an internal email to colleagues and then on-air as she held back tears.
“I defended the idea, saying as long as it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume, it seemed okay. Well I am wrong and I am sorry,” she said.
Her exit from NBC was finalized in January.
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The host signed a three-year, $23 million-a-year contract in January 2017, and a source told PEOPLE in January her contract would be paid out, about $25-30 million dollars.
A friend of Kelly’s told PEOPLE at the time that the star was “looking forward to her next chapter” after leaving the peacock network.
“She’s expected to be back in action soon,” the friend said. “She will work again.”