NBC struck back at denunciations of an interview between anchor Megyn Kelly and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, claiming that the upcoming interview will see Kelly grill Jones about his inane ideas.
NBC executive Liz Cole, the executive producer of Megyn Kelly’s Sunday night show, told CNN that NBC has a duty to interview important people “no matter how abhorrent their views may be” and that people should watch the interview before criticizing NBC’s decision. Megyn also defended her decision to interview Jones, claiming that as President Donald Trump had praised Jones, it was her duty to shine a light on his beliefs.
Kelly’s critics charge that she is giving Jones a platform to spread his noxious views and is granting him a veneer of legitimacy by being interviewed by a mainstream journalist. Twitter critics took particular note of how Jones has claimed that the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in 2012 as well as the Pulse nightclub shooting last year never happened and were both products of a nefarious government conspiracy. A photo of Jones and Kelly smiling next to each other has also worried some that the interview will not be confrontational.
Megyn Kelly’s critics have taken further action beyond tweeting their outrage. The Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, a gun violence prevention group, announced that Kelly would not host the Promise Champions Gala, an annual event which will be held on Wednesday. The foundation said in a statement that they “cannot support the decision by Megyn or NBC to give any form of voice or platform to Alex Jones.” JPMorgan Chase also announced that they would pull all local and national advertising from NBC until the Sunday interview.
A Bigger Voice?
Despite these outcries, it is true that as a YouTube star, Jones and his Infowars network has a bigger influence in America than they did a year ago thanks to President Trump.
The network received a one-day press pass earlier this year, and both Trump and Jones have shared and promoted conspiracy theories such as the idea that former President Obama was not born in the United States. The two are on friendly terms, with Trump appearing for an Infowars interview in December 2015 while running for President and Jones relentlessly praising Trump as an outsider who will crush establishment politicians and change America for the better.
NBC and Megyn Kelly appear convinced that they are not legitimizing Jones but instead are confronting him on his beliefs. Kelly made clear in a statement that she found Jones’s beliefs on Sandy Hook “revolting” and “to discuss the considerable falsehoods he has promoted with near impunity.” As Jones is more influential, one could argue that it is not time for mainstream sources like NBC to take him seriously and demolish his beliefs once and for all. A preview clip showing the two having an intense conversation over Sandy Hook does suggest that the interview will at least not be entirely friendly.
Despite the anger of individuals on Twitter and advertisers, NBC has indicated that the interview with Jones will be aired as scheduled on Sunday night.
[Featured Image by Star Max/AP Images]