Steve Burke, the chief executive of NBCUniversal, took some of the blame for the network’s failed attempt to make Megyn Kelly a new face of the network in an interview Monday, just days after Kelly officially left NBC.
Burke told Variety on Monday that he was partially at fault when the network hired Kelly away from Fox News in 2017 with a three-year, $69 million deal on NBC News. Her morning talk show, “Megyn Kelly Today,” never took off, however, and ratings remained lackluster.
NBC officially canceled “Megyn Kelly Today” in October following a backlash over comments she made defending Halloween costumes that involved blackface. Kelly later apologized for the statements, saying she realized “such behavior is indeed wrong.”
“Megyn Kelly was a huge talent,” Burke told Variety of the decision to hire her. “She was at the wrong time of day (on NBC). In hindsight we shouldn’t have done it.”
Kelly officially left NBC on Friday with the remainder of her contractual salary, a figure between $25 million and $30 million.
Burke later defended the head of NBC News, Andy Lack, and said he was “100 percent” behind him. Lack has come under fire for his role in hiring Kelly, and NBC as a whole had a rocky year beginning in 2017 with the firing of “Today” host Matt Lauer after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
“It wasn’t Andy going off rogue,” Burke said in the interview. “When the drumbeat began of ‘You gotta fire this guy’ — a lot of that was really unfair. Matt Lauer was a grenade that we didn’t know was a grenade. I was here seven years, and I thought Matt Lauer was the greatest interviewer in news.”