Don Lemon rips NBC execs for hiring Megyn Kelly in the first place: ‘They knew exactly what they were getting’

CNN’s Don Lemon blasted Megyn Kelly over her blackface comments but also leveled a scathing rebuke at the NBC management that hired her.

Discussing the fallout and potential demise of “Megyn Kelly Today” following her remarks on Tuesday’s show, Lemon told fellow CNN anchor Chris Cuomo that the disaster is partly the “fault of the people who hired her.”

“I hate for anybody to lose their job and, not to pile on to Megyn, a lot of people are piling onto her,” Lemon said on “Cuomo Prime Time” on Thursday.

“She made some mistakes and now she’s suffering the consequences of those mistakes,” he added.

“But I also think that it is partially the fault of the people who hired her because Megyn’s record, how she feels about things, she says she’s not PC. It’s there. All you have to do is do a Google search. She’s very outspoken in her views and how she feels about things,”Lemon continued. “They knew exactly what they were getting when they hired Megyn Kelly.”

Lemon noted that this did not “make up for the fact that she was unaware of the situation, and what she did was insensitive.”

“I never said that it was racist. I won’t go that far. But she was just — she’s unaware of the history and she said as much as that,” he added.

Kelly set off a firestorm when she questioned the racism of blackface with Halloween costumes on her show Tuesday. A subsequent emotional apology from the NBC show host seemed not to cool the fire, as network replaced live tapings of her show with re-runs and slammed her on other programs.

While the network has gone to bat for other staff members, like Joy Reid and Tom Brokaw – who was accused of sexual harassment – they appear to have declared open war on Kelly with NBC News Chairman Andy Lack telling employees that “there is no place on our air or in this workplace” for comments like Kelly’s.

“I think the management has to take some responsibility in it. She has to take some responsibility in it,”Lemon told Cuomo Thursday.  “And I say that because, and also her representatives have to take some responsibility in it.”

“You know and I know that in this business, it’s really hard to change and have the audience see you in a different way. She was a hard-hitting political journalist over at Fox News for a very long time, where she took a stand on things and she was very adamant about it,” he said. “And then to go from that to a lovable morning show anchor, she just wasn’t seen that way. The audience likes authenticity. If you’re going to be a jerk on television, then do that. If you’re going to be a nice person on television, do that. A sweetheart. If you’re going to be a mean or “B,” whatever you want to call it, stick to your personality and the audience will come along with you.”

Kelly reportedly parted ways with her talent agency and hired a prominent attorney to represent her in what will likely be her exit interview from the network. Reports indicated that she had also asked journalist Ronan Farrow to be a “witness’ at the meeting with NBC executives, something that Farrow apparently was unaware of.

“I think her representatives and I think management also did her wrong because they put her in a position that was not necessarily suited to her skill set,” Lemon suggested.

“Not an easy position for management here, either, because they’re going to have to eat a lot of money,” Cuomo interjected, referring to the reported $69 million contract buyout for Kelly to leave the show.

“I don’t know if she’s going to get $69 million, she’s going to get a ton of money to be sitting around doing nothing. But, again, she said something that she should not have said,” Lemon replied.

He noted that it is okay to make a mistake and “say one stupid thing” while live on the air, but there is no excuse for a “pattern” of behavior.

“One thing that you shouldn’t be doing or shouldn’t have said, usually people will forgive you,” he said. “But if it is a pattern and you don’t seem to understand what you’re doing wrong or what you’re saying is wrong, then that becomes a problem.”

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