NBC Defends Megyn Kelly's Interview with Alex Jones

RTSIKY7
NBC is defending an interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, founder of the "alt-right" website InfoWars, set to air this weekend. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Broadcaster NBC is defending an upcoming interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones after the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook mass shooting have called for it to be pulled.

Jones, who will appear on NBC's Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly this weekend, has called the 2012 elementary school massacre a hoax and referred to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States as an "inside job."

Jones is "a controversial figure for sure," explained the program's executive producer Liz Cole to CNN. "As journalists it's our job to interview newsmakers and people of influence no matter how abhorrent their views may be," she said. A 90-second preview of Jones interview aired Sunday.

President Donald Trump appeared on Jones' show during the 2016 campaign and so did Trump's strategist Roger Stone. Many Trump supporters watch Jones' broadcasts on his site InfoWars , which champions an anti-Islamist, conspiracy theorist approach to world events. A study recently found InfoWars is part of a media ecosystem that supports far-right xenophobes that have come to be known as the "alt-right."

In March Jones apologized for spreading the false "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory that Democrats and the former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary were running a child sex ring out of a Washington D.C. pizza parlor.

Read more: NBC normalizing Alex Jones's fake news with Megyn Kelly interview, a Sandy Hook parent charges

The website has nevertheless been given White House press credentials. After the November 2016 election Jones said President-elect Trump called to thank him for his help. Jones' website has 5.3 million unique visitors each month and 79 percent of its traffic comes from the United States.

All this means that Jones "is someone who is worthy of examination," said Cole. "He has a platform, he has the ear of the president of the United States... But where is he getting these theories and this information? He criticizes the mainstream media, but what's his process?"

Giving him a platform on NBC would not mean that Jones "goes unchallenged," Cole said, arguing "Megyn does a strong interview, we're not just giving him a platform."

The parents of children who died in the Sandy Hook shooting disagreed. "You do NOT give crazy a platform. You're better than this @nbc," Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose daughter Anna Grace was killed in the massacre, tweeted on Sunday.

Marquez-Greene said she is "still harassed by truthers" like Jones' fans five years after the shooting. "Promoting this fool is bad news," she wrote.

At least one advertiser has opposed the broadcast. J.P. Morgan Chase pulled its local TV ads and digital ads from all NBC news programming until after the show airs.

For his part Jones doesn't like the interview either. He said NBC used "deceptive editing" to portray his views as monstrous.

"I'm calling for @megynkelly to cancel the airing of our interview," Jones tweeted Monday, "for misrepresenting my views on Sandy Hook."