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Megyn Kelly on set at Rockefeller Center in New York, Sept. 21, 2017.CHAD BATKA/The New York Times News Service

Megyn Kelly was on the verge of tears Wednesday morning, her suddenly delicate world shattering around her. Less than 24 hours earlier, she had been chatting breezily with three panelists on her show, Megyn Kelly Today, about inappropriate Halloween costumes, declaring that she was “a little fired up” because “political correctness has gone amok.”

Once upon a time, she explained, nothing had been off-limits. “What is racist?” she mused. “You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween … Back when I was a kid, that was okay, just as long as you were dressing as a character.” Later, she said, “I can’t keep up with the number of people we’re offending just by being normal people.”

On the set behind her, fans nodded their approval. But out in the real world, complaints began rocketing in, schooling Kelly. Within hours, she issued an apologetic e-mail to her co-workers that felt written by a committee, acknowledging that the “history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep.” Opening her show Wednesday with a live mea culpa, she looked shell-shocked and contrite, as if she had just heard for the first time about slavery and lynchings and America’s rancid history of dehumanizing black people.

Who knows? Maybe she had. Like a growing number of public figures, including politicians on both sides of the border who avoid media they don’t consider friendly, Kelly has been living for a long time in a safe space, unchallenged by inconvenient questions and new ideas. We’re all guilty of that to some extent, abetted by online algorithms that feed us what we supposedly want to hear. Muscles atrophy and die when we don’t use them.

For almost 15 years at Fox News, Kelly was free to spout nonsense for her viewers without any significant pushback. There was, for example, a bizarre straw-man segment she hosted in 2013 that was supposedly about inclusiveness, in which she listened briefly to a Fox contributor suggest that it might be nice for African-American children to grow up with a Santa Claus who looked like them, before Kelly barked: “Santa Claus is white … Jesus was a white man, too. He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact.”

Even at NBC, which she joined last year, her bosses indulged her worst instincts, allowing her to conduct a feature interview with Alex Jones that helped normalize the conspiracy theorist.

Which may be why Kelly was wholly unprepared for the blowback that came this week, when the reality of racial politics in 2018 suddenly showed up at 30 Rock to sit her down for a lesson she should have received decades ago.

But President Donald Trump, too, rarely challenges himself, preferring to give interviews only to the friendly folks at Fox. Whenever he strays into an extended encounter with a real journalist, as with Lester Holt last year or Lesley Stahl in a 60 Minutes episode this month, he slips up, letting fly such secrets as the fact that he was thinking of the Russia investigation when he fired FBI director James Comey.

On this side of the border, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is going to court to defend his desire to block critics on Twitter. The Prime Minister often prefers Instagram over proper media interviews. The Ontario Premier’s favourite media outlet is Ontario News Now, a faux-news effort run by his government and paid for by the province’s taxpayers.

The strategy will work until people demand real answers from their government. But the politicians had better watch out for what happens then.

By Wednesday night, Megyn Kelly had been dropped by CAA, her high-powered Hollywood agency. On Thursday morning, NBC cancelled that day’s live show and threw on a rerun – almost unheard-of in live morning television – of disparate segments from at least two previous episodes, evidently stitched together in desperate haste. The network is in such apparent chaos that someone failed to notice the episode ended with Kelly telling her viewers to “Have a great weekend!” In the end, she didn’t even make it that far: NBC announced on Friday that they’d cancelled her show and she would be leaving the network.

That’s the thing about change: It looks like it’s never going to happen, and then it takes your breath away with how quickly it finally does.

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