Broadcast journalist Megyn Kelly’s interview with right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has sparked major outrage since it was announced. Most harshly, critics have called Kelly’s invitation for Jones to appear on her show an insult to the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.
Jones has previously claimed that the massacre, which resulted in the deaths of 20 children and six adults, was a false-flag attack in which paid actors played the parts of victims and their families.
This is just one of the many lies Jones has repeated on his show. To add to his shameful history of peddling blatant falsehoods about national tragedies, Jones has even lied about his lying.
Since the interview was announced, he has denied calling Sandy Hook a conspiracy and claimed to have simply “played devil’s advocate” in the debate over the legitimacy of news reports surrounding the tragedy. This has turned out to be utterly false, as he said on his show that “no one died” at Sandy Hook and called it a “complete hoax.”
For his lies and hypocrisy, I personally loathe Alex Jones and deeply wish he didn’t have a following of millions eagerly lapping up his incoherent ramblings.
I also deeply wish he didn’t have the respect of the President of the United States, who repeatedly praised Jones on his show and gave him White House press credentials despite his lack of personal, let alone “journalistic” integrity.
But the fact remains that he has that following. He has the respect of President Trump and he’s not going to lose those things if we as a society simply ignore him.
Jones has a following and the respect of President Trump. He’s not going to lose either of those things if we, as a society, simply ignore him.
If Jones was just some rambling lunatic with no audience to account for, I’d agree with Kelly’s critics that there is no compelling reason to interview him. But Jones has millions of listeners nationwide. The only way to combat him is to expose him for what he is.
From what I’ve seen and heard, Kelly’s interview is far from a softball affair. She asks Jones directly about his misrepresentation of Sandy Hook among other things, which could damage him in the eyes of a mainstream culture which is simultaneously being introduced to him.
All of the outrage over Kelly’s interview before it is even aired seems to suggest that having a conversation with someone, no matter the nature of the conversation, is a tacit endorsement of their beliefs and a boon to their cause.
That is simply not the case. When you give an already popular public figure a platform and portray them accurately, which may or may not necessarily mean a neutral portrayal, you are not actively recruiting for them.
You are simply presenting them and their ideas to the audience so that they can freely come to their own conclusions. Kelly’s job as a journalist is to represent her show’s subjects accurately, not to forgo presenting them at all if those subjects are of a controversial nature or just generally of poor character.
To give Jones an interview is not an act of endorsement, it is an act of exposure. If you are afraid that Kelly’s interview with Jones will strengthen him and his brand than your problem should not be with Kelly but instead with those that would be drawn to Jones despite his penchant for insane rhetoric and blatant dishonesty.
As long as Kelly holds Jones accountable for his intellectual cowardice and dishonesty, she should not be the target of nearly as much criticism as she’s getting.
She is doing her job. Journalists aren’t supposed to present to us what we are comfortable with. They’re supposed to present to us what’s significant, even when it’s painful for us as viewers to watch. And like it or not, Jones’ following and clout with our current President make him significant.
Furthermore, It’s entirely possible that sunlight will turn out to be the best disinfectant and Jones will crash and burn in his interview with Kelly. He seems to imply that he didn’t do very well as he’s falsely claimed that Kelly misrepresented him on the question of Sandy Hook and has demanded that she not air the interview.
Until the interview is aired, criticizing Kelly for simply doing her job is something I won’t stand for, even if I do deeply despise Jones and his brand of right-wing conspiracy peddling. I hope the interview airs and that Jones appears to the viewers as exactly what he is; a lying propagandist who must be combatted in his conquest to blur reality for political power and personal benefit.
The fight against Jones and his allies must be one of confrontation. To de-platform him is not an act of confrontation. It is an act of retreat.