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'Today' show moves into the post-Megyn Kelly era

Hoda Kotb, seen here on June 6 in

Hoda Kotb, seen here on June 6 in Nashville, Tenn.  Credit: Getty Images for CMT/Mike Coppola

NBC's "Today" moved past Megyn Kelly on Monday, as co-anchors Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin and Al Roker kicked off the show's third hour, which had been occupied by "Megyn Kelly Today" until its cancellation Friday following the host's defense of Halloween blackface.

"Today, as you know, we are starting a new chapter in the third hour of our show as it evolves," Kotb said of the 9 a.m. weekday slot. "We want you to know that the entire 'Today' family will continue to bring you informative and important stories, just as we always have."

She and her co-anchors went forward with news segments, and NBC News correspondent Jenna Bush Hager then took over hosting. An NBC News spokeswoman said on Friday that this week's third hour "will be hosted by other 'Today' co-anchors."

Kelly's attorney, Bryan Freedman, said in a statement Friday that despite her show's cancellation, "Megyn remains an employee of NBC News and discussions about next steps are continuing." Repeats of "Megyn Kelly Today" aired Thursday and Friday.

Kelly, 47, had apologized on air Wednesday for her widely repudiated remarks the day before. Referring to her panel discussion about "whether it is ever OK for a person of one race to dress up as another, a black person making their face lighter or a white person making theirs darker, to make a costume complete," she said. "I defended the idea, saying as long as it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume it seemed OK. Well, I was wrong and I am sorry."

In the controversial segment Tuesday, the former Fox News anchor had taken aim at "the costume police" and said of Halloween blackface, "Like, back when I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character."

Meanwhile, a group of students at her former high school in Bethlehem, New York, took issue with her statement. "Those comments definitely do not speak to who we are in Bethlehem or at Bethlehem Central High School, from which she [Kelly] graduated in 1988," they wrote in an op-ed on the NBC News website Sunday. "Blackface is not acceptable anywhere in America, and it is not acceptable in our town," they added. "We weren't alive when Megyn was in high school but, in the recollection of many of our parents who grew up around here, it was not acceptable even in the 1980s town that she knew."

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