Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Calls NBC ‘Racist-Adjacent’ For Hiring Megyn Kelly In The First Place

Kareem Abdul Jabbar speaks before the audience at the 2016 ESPY Awards.
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has made it clear that he is all for NBC firing Megyn Kelly over the incendiary remarks she made in defense of blackface this week, but he couldn’t accept that such a move would signify any kind of moral high ground on the part of the executives who hired her.

In fact, the legendary hooper would go so far as to say that Kelly’s lucrative multi-year signing made them complicit in whatever bigotry she might have exhibited throughout her 14-month tenure with the network.

In an op-ed piece that he published via the Hollywood Reporter on Friday, October 26, Abdul-Jabbar poses that the offensive nature of Kelly’s take on an issue that has been as historically scrutinized as blackface “is inexcusable for a newsperson.” He argues that, if anything, given her level of education and experience in the industry, one cannot assume that the 47-year-old TV journalist was completely oblivious to the likelihood of her stance causing hurt. Thus, to Abdul-Jabbar’s determination, Kelly weaponized blackface. And while he wouldn’t quite say the way she gauged the topic constitutes a hate crime, he’d definitely consider it “hate crime-adjacent.”

NBC may not completely share Abdul-Jabbar’s opinion on the matter, but it turns out they’ve agreed with him to the extent that Megyn Kelly Today has already been canceled, per the New York Times. What’s more, there is talk that she is on the hinge of being altogether dismissed, with reports indicating that Kelly is actively negotiating a buyout of the contract that Abdul-Jabbar says she would have never been offered in the first place, had NBC not forecasted that they could benefit from a conservative firebrand.

“Kelly made consistently racist statements while at Fox News, so when NBC hired her in 2017, its executives were saying: We’re rewarding your racism on Fox by paying you $69 million over three years,” says Abdul-Jabbar. “Then when she does the same thing that got her that mega-payday, NBC suddenly expresses socially conscious outrage. Not quite racist, but racist-adjacent.”

Abdul-Jabbar’s perspective on the saga echoes that of Time magazine’s Judy Berman, who highlights the succession of controversies that have recently followed the former Fox host in a piece titled, “Megyn Kelly Is Cancelled. But She Never Should Have Had the Job in the First Place.” In the article, Berman points out that since kicking her now-defunct morning show off last September, Kelly managed to offend the LGBTQ community with an off-color joke about Will and Grace, chastise Jane Fonda’s choice to have plastic surgery, and champion fat-shaming as a method of motivation that “works” when applied to people who struggle with their weight.

With her casual defense of blackface costumery, only one week ahead of this year’s Halloween festivities, Kelly’s war against political correctness would come to an end. Abdul-Jabbar anticipates that NBC will soon follow through and wholly cut ties with the host. He believes such ends to be fitting, even if it does not address the larger issue at hand.

“Firing Kelly does not wash away everyone’s past sins, but it’s still a cleansing moment,” says Abdul-Jabbar.