When it comes to the hunt for ratings gold, no one can say Megyn Kelly is not swinging for the fences. After a slow start out of the gate, the former Fox host booked provocateur and oft-discredited rumor mill, Alex Jones, for a spot on her latest program. When the show’s 90-second promo dropped, reaction was, in a word, incited.
Critics accused Kelly of “normalizing” the fringe internet personality. Others said bringing Jones on a major TV network would give him the platform he so desperately craves. Some objected on moral grounds. Jones, they said, has pedaled fake news that has done real harm to real people.
The first out of the gate was a group of parents of Sandy Hook shooting victims. These folks are, justifiably angry at Jones for his statements claiming the massacre was a “hoax” or a “false flag” incident. Almost immediately after the promo aired, these people and many of their supporters jumped on Twitter and Facebook to denounced Kelly for booking Jones.
By the time the furor reached a fever pitch, even NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio had weighed in, calling for Kelly to not air the segment. And, according to CNN, advertiser JP Morgan Chase has asked NBC not to air its advertisements during the show … though this has yet to be confirmed.
Kelly’s executive producer, Liz Cole, pushed back, telling critics to wait until they saw the segment before calling down fire on Kelly and company. “Until you see the full program, in the full context, I wouldn’t judge it too much… Judge it when you see it. Megyn does a strong interview. We’re not just giving him a platform.”
It can be argued that Jones already has a platform. Millions listen to his radio program on a regular basis, and his website, InfoWars.com averages more than five million unique visitors a month. And, despite his infamous topical content, Jones has entertained big names on his program, including the current President of the United States, as well as members of his family.
It doesn’t seem to bother Jones’ more high-profile guests that their segments are aired by a guy who insists that 9-11 was an inside job, that mad scientists are creating animal-human hybrids, many multiple-shooting incidents were false flags and, right, the government is making kids gay.
Cole says, despite Jones’ lack of credibility, Kelly is right to bring him on the show and expose him for what he is: “…as journalists it’s our job to interview newsmakers and people of influence no matter how abhorrent their views may be.”