Major controversy is brewing over Megyn Kelly’s decision to interview renowned right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of InfoWars for the second episode of her new show on NBC.
Jones’ bizarre, outlandish theories are too numerous and convoluted to get into here in any detail. But just for some context, Jones believes 9/11 was an “inside job,” has suggested that Sandy Hook was a “hoax” involving actors and that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are demon-possessed.
The interview is scheduled to air on Sunday night, and J.P. Morgan Chase has already pulled advertising from the network because of Jones’ appearance. Others have expressed outrage and disgust that Kelley would give Jones and his ideas a platform by having him on the show.
As most of my audience is aware, I have interviewed many crazy, outlandish, hateful and controversial people over the years on my program, ranging from members of the Westboro Baptist Church to white nationalist, alt-right leader Richard Spencer. I’ve been criticized for it, and I’ve defended it.
I don’t believe in not giving a platform just for the sake of not giving a platform. Not having these kinds of people on your show doesn’t make them magically go away. I’ve always felt it’s important to try to engage and challenge their ideas, and to try to shed light on where those ideas are coming from.
I have no issue with Kelly interviewing Jones in principle. As long as the context is right, you have to make it clear that you think he's nuts and be properly prepared to push back at what he says, I think it’s fine.
That being said, I think it was a bad choice on her part and on NBC’s. First of all, the platform is way, way too big for Alex Jones. It’s genuinely makes Kelly and NBC look bad. After months and months of buildup for this major show, and your second ever interview is...conspiracy theorist Alex Jones who thinks the public water is turning frogs gay?
This interview isn’t exactly a get for Kelly. Especially considering that Jones is following Vladimir Putin, who Kelly interviewed for her show’s debut (and did a nice job). Of course Alex Jones would agree to come on. The guy is obsessed with attention. That’s what his whole stick is about in the first place.
It’s just all around silly, especially considering that the real interesting issue to explore with Jones isn’t his conspiracy theories, but is whether or not his whole persona is just an act -- a claim his lawyers made in court during a child custody hearing.
Regardless, it wasn’t a smart move for Kelly or NBC. It’s an obvious attention grab on both sides and it just may backfire for Kelly and NBC. The risk was that the audience and advertisers would be turned off, and we’re already seeing the early signs of that.