In the show on Tuesday, her comments – in which she suggested to her guests that she had dressed as a child in Blackface, "as long as you disguised as a figure" – surprised many NBC News staff angrily. At a post-broadcast meeting, members of Mrs. Kelly's "Today" team expressed discomfort over what she had said on the show, as several people informed about the discussion, even though Mrs. Kelly was absent.
Her remarks came during a round-table discussion on how, as she put it, "the costume police bangs" on Halloween outfits. "You get in trouble if you're a white person playing blackface on Halloween, or a black person celebrating Halloween on Halloween," Ms. Kelly said. "Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you disguised yourself as a character."
Several hours later, she sent an apology to colleagues. "The story of Blackface in our culture is despicable, the wounds are too deep," Ms. Kelly wrote. "I've never been a 'PC' type of person – but I understand that we need to be more sensitive during this time."
"NBC Nightly News" dedicated the paragraphs of Mrs. Kelly's remarks to her Tuesday and Wednesday issues. On Tuesday, a Fox News 2013 clip was broadcast featuring Ms. Kelly's eye on Santa's race. "Santa is just white for all the kids watching at home," she said. The same clip was shown again on Wednesday at 7 o'clock by "Today".
For NBC News, "blackface" insufflation was another headache.
The news department has been scrutinized by its executives for knowing about Mr. Lauer's job behavior before being released in 2017 after being accused of sexual harassment. In May, an investigation by the NBC cleared executives of the network of any wrongdoing in the matter, but was criticized for having been conducted by an in-house lawyer and not by an outside law firm.
Mr. Brokaw was also accused of making undesirable advances – claims the anchor refused. And in September, journalist Ronan Farrow and his NBC producer Rich McHugh accused the network of preventing a report on Harvey Weinstein and sexual assault, an investigation Mr. Farrow continued in the New Yorker. (NBC said it did not do anything wrong.)