I have to say there have been moments when I’ve thought Megyn Kelly was a real blast of fresh air in the fetid, morning-breath swamps of cable news: whip-smart, mildly sassy, occasionally rebellious, she is a real star on the propaganda network of the GOP/Tea Party. So I wondered how she would respond to her rather unfortunate assertions this week that both Santa Claus and Jesus Christ were “white”. Here’s the original segment. Here is her response.
I’d say two things. The original segment was clearly not as light-hearted and humorous as Kelly now insists it was. She did not originally refer to the Slate piece as “tongue-in-cheek” and responded to its provocation by being offended, not amused. Since both tapes are out there, make your own mind up. But rather than cop to an obvious error – made off the cuff – she made the decision to hunker down and accuse others of persecuting Fox News because it isn’t liberal. So the classic and silly notion that white Republicans are somehow an oppressed class – and minorities should just stop whining – became her “correction.” But that’s not a correction. It’s a distraction.
More to the point, the much more disturbing assertion that “Jesus was white” – something Kelly injected into the conversation all by herself – is left hanging. She claims in one aside in her response that the question “is not settled.” But it is. Jesus was a first century Jew. He’s not a northern European. He was Semitic, not Caucasian. Now maybe Kelly will unpack why she may believe that Jews are somehow “white” in her racial categorization of humanity, while, say, Hispanics are not. But it seems likely she won’t. That would open a very large box of premises Roger Ailes prefers to keep vacuum-wrapped.
So she screwed up – which we all do. But on the core measure of whether she could fairly cop to her screw-up, correct and apologize for it, she failed. I tend to think that how journalists respond to error is more instructive than how they report and analyze in factually impeccable fashion. On that count, Kelly emerged this week as a flak and a hack. I guess I was foolish for hoping for more.
(Painting: Mother Mary with the Holy Child Jesus Christ, Oil/canvas, 1913. By Adolf Hitler.)