The addition of Megyn Kelly to NBC News is not going well. After getting panned for her interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Kelly has also interviewed right-wing nut job Alex Jones.
And that brings me to an excerpt from today’s Morning Media NewsFeed, produced by AdWeek:
NBC anchor Megyn Kelly’s plan to air an interview with right-wing provocateur Alex Jones has caused a firestorm to erupt on social media, but so far advertisers have remained quiet—with at least one notable exception. J.P. Morgan Chase has asked for its local TV ads and digital ads to be removed from Kelly’s show and from all NBC news programming until after the show airs, according to a person familiar with the matter. (WSJ / CMO Today)
On social media, Kelly is being accused of “normalizing” the far-right radio talk show host Jones, who has pushed conspiracy theories about 9/11 and the Sandy Hook massacre. (TVNewser)
Monday, Kelly tweeted out a preview clip of the interview and a response to the criticisms: “POTUS’s been on & praises @RealAlexJones’ show. He’s giving Infowars a WH press credential. Many don’t know him; our job is 2 shine a light.” (Fishbowl)
The show’s executive producer is asking viewers to withhold judgment until then. “Until you see the full program, in the full context, I wouldn’t judge it too much,” Liz Cole, the executive producer of Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly, said. “Judge it when you see it. Megyn does a strong interview. We’re not just giving him a platform.” (CNN)
Jones responded by saying the interview should be pulled. Jones’ big complaint is that Kelly allegedly misrepresented his views on Sandy Hook. Apparently, Kelly confronted him for saying in the past that no one died and it was a hoax. Jones denied saying that, even though he did. (Mediaite)
And then there’s this excerpt from today’s The Media Today newsletter from the Columbia Journalism Review:
NBC has painted itself into a corner. The network and its newly hired star, Megyn Kelly, are facing a barrage of criticism for an upcoming interview with Infowars host Alex Jones. Jones, for those not familiar, is a foul creature who has emerged from the fever swamps of spurious conspiracy theory to a position of prominence in the pro-Trump media ecosystem.
Much of the recent focus on Jones has centered on his claims that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook was staged. The families of Sandy Hook victims have criticized NBC’s decision to give Jones a mainstream platform, and JP Morgan Chase has reportedly pulled its advertisements from the show, which is scheduled to air on Father’s Day. On Monday, Jones himself called for the interview not to air, arguing that NBC had manipulated his words. Now Kelly and network honchos find themselves in a bind. If the interview runs, they will be criticized for providing exposure to a deplorable conspiracy theorist and causing pain to those he has hurt. But if the show is cancelled, Jones gets to claim victory, casting NBC as both dishonest and afraid of what he has to say.
BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel, who has covered Jones more thoroughly than anyone in the mainstream media, argues that NBC was right to pursue the interview. “Like it or not, Alex Jones is an architect of our current political moment,” Warzel writes. “As such, the mainstream media shouldn’t try to shield its audience from him or pretend he doesn’t exist—it should interrogate him.”
Jones is nothing if not a slippery character and master manipulator. Whether Kelly is up to the challenge of holding him to account remains to be seen. For its part, NBC is defending the interview and urging patience. “Until you see the full program, in the full context, I wouldn’t judge it too much,” Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly Executive Producer Liz Cole told CNN’s Dylan Byers. “Judge it when you see it. Megyn does a strong interview. We’re not just giving him a platform.”