No Picture

Megyn Kelly’s much ballyhooed interview with Alex Jones was a ratings catastrophe

June 19, 2017 aurorax 0

More people tuned in to watch a repeat of America’s Funiest Home Videos.


After a week’s worth of controversy and second-guessing, NBC News anchor Megyn Kelly aired her sit-down interview with internet provocateur Alex Jones on Sunday evening, finally answering the question: if a news show gives a conspiracy theorist a platform, but nobody’s there to watch it, does it make a sound?

Just 3.5 million people tuned into Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly, her lowest-rated episode yet in the three weeks she’s been on the air. More people tuned into a repeat of ABC’s America’s Funniest Home Videos during the same 7 p.m. hour.

Even as viewers and advertisers balked at Jones’ inclusion, NBC News defended the segment’s journalistic value. And while the 20 minute package that aired was well-received by some media critics, it failed to deliver on the one thing network executives care about above all else: eyeballs. Among the networks, NBC finished dead last during that time slot.

Megyn Kelly’s disastrous interview with Alex Jones somehow gets even worse

At least one affiliate—WVIT in Connecticut—refused to air the episode at all. The station’s General Manager Susan Tully explained the decision in an internal memo, and cited Jones’ abhorrent statements about the deadly elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT in 2012. “Over the last few days, we have listened intently to Sandy Hook parents [and] considered the deep emotions from the wounds of that day that have yet to heal,” she wrote.

Jones’ comments about the Sandy Hook shooting—he continues to argue the murderous rampage was a government-sanctioned hoax—were the main flashpoint for many advertisers and viewers. Kelly was to be the host of a gala to benefit the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, but was uninvited after news of the segment began to spread. The families of children killed in the Newtown shooting collectively urged the network to reconsider airing the episode as well, particularly on Father’s Day. In response to criticism, Kelly invited parents to participate in the segment, an offer that one father accepted.

To her credit, Kelly was aggressive in her questioning of Jones’ public comments during the segment itself, which drew from hours of sit-down conversations with Jones. But even a masterclass in dress-down interviews wouldn’t undo the damage already done by NBC News and Kelly. Jones was given a platform, on taxpayer-subsized national television, from which to spew his particularly toxic brand of hate to a whole new audience.

Megyn Kelly’s much ballyhooed interview with Alex Jones was a ratings catastrophe was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

No Picture

Megyn Kelly’s disastrous interview with Alex Jones somehow gets even worse

June 16, 2017 aurorax 0

NBC News is committing the worst self-own in recent memory, and it’s playing out in slow motion.

NBC News host Megyn Kelly. Credit: AP Photo

From the moment NBC News announced their newest star anchor Megyn Kelly would be sitting down with renowned fabulist and deadbeat father Alex Jones, nearly everyone agreed it was a very, very bad idea.

Jones — proprietor of the online clearinghouse of conspiracy theories, anti-government psychobabble and racist drivel known as Infowars — makes a living preying upon an audience that has been primed for years to distrust the media. It’s Jones who first amplified the lie that the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was a government-sponsored hoax. (Indeed, parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook have been among the more vocal critics of NBC’s decision to give Jones a national platform to spread his vitriol.)

Jones also continues to endanger children by convincing their parents that vaccines are dangerous.

But NBC has held its ground, arguing that Jones, for all of his moral and ethical deficiencies, is a newsmaker worthy of primetime coverage. Kelly herself has defended the decision, saying in a statement that her “goal in sitting down with him was to shine a light — as journalists are supposed to do — on this influential figure, and yes—to discuss the considerable falsehoods he has promoted with near impunity.” And of course there’s the ratings, which promise to be big thanks to the “exclusive” nature of the interview.

Or at least that was the thinking. But on Thursday, Jones released secretly-recorded audio from his pre-interview with Kelly, wherein the NBC host can be heard trying to convince Jones to sit for the interview in the first place. The recordings are somewhat embarrassing for NBC and for Kelly—at one point she assures him “I really just want to talk about you. Take the measure of the man. This is your chance to tell people who you are.”—but pre-interviews are commonplace in broadcast journalism.

Far more concerning for NBC and Kelly is Jones’ threat to release the full audio from his entire interview, which he claims to have also recorded in secret. After weathering days of criticism and frantically trying to salvage their interview and assuage nervous advertisers, NBC News might somehow get scooped on their own exclusive by its very subject.

Don’t for a second feel bad for NBC News, though. This is entirely a debacle of their own making, and failure of this magnitude is exactly what the network deserves.

Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones are playing each other. Megyn Kelly is losing.

NBC fell into the same trap that upended CBS’s Scott Pelley and 60 Minutes in March. The news magazine sat down with pro-Trump wackadoo—and Alex Jones disciple—Mike Cernovich, who refused to acknowledge even the most basic facts. As Buzzfeed’s Charlie Warzel wrote at the time:

Pelley, like other legacy journalists who are unfamiliar or only lightly acquainted with the meme-wielding arm of the right, confronted the pro-Trump Upside Down media without an understanding of its cardinal rule: The New Right media isn’t just an opposition force to the mainstream media — it’s a parallel institution armed with its own set of facts that insists on its own reality.

Walking into an interview armed with cold, verifiable truth is no longer the ace in the hole it once was. Once upon a time, confronting a serial liar with facts and demanding he produce evidence to support his claims was enough to get him laughed off the stage and out of the spotlight. But those rules only apply to those who live on the same plane of existence as the rest of us. For Jones and his ilk, such trivialities as fact and truth are meaningless when presented by sources they deem untrustworthy or malicious. Like the 60 Minutes crew, Kelly walked into her interview unprepared and ill-equipped to disarm or discredit Jones.

Megyn Kelly’s disastrous interview with Alex Jones somehow gets even worse was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

No Picture

Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones are playing each other. Megyn Kelly is losing.

June 13, 2017 aurorax 0

She’s lost an advertiser and a speaking gig, but he’s as pumped up as ever.

CREDIT: Infowars

Megyn Kelly’s upcoming interview with Alex Jones may not break any new ground, but it’s certainly creating drama. While Kelly seems to be hoping the radical conspiracy theorist will bolster ratings for her new show at NBC News, Jones is using the interview to further galvanize his followers’ distrust of the mainstream media. They’re both trying to play each other, and Kelly is clearly losing.

The backlash from Sandy Hook family members, upset she would give airtime to someone who believes they faked their loved ones’ deaths, has already created real consequences for Kelly. JP Morgan has pulled all of its ads from not just Kelly’s show, but all NBC News programming this week — not wanting their ads to appear within any vicinity of promotions for the interview.

JP Morgan’s chief marketing officer, Kristin Lemkau, said she was repulsed that Kelly would give Jones any airtime.

As an advertiser, I’m repulsed that @megynkelly would give a second of airtime to someone who says Sandy Hook and Aurora are hoaxes. Why?

 — @KLemkau

Remarkably, Kelly was supposed to host a fundraising gala this week for the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, a gun violence prevention non-profit founded by a group of family members who lost loved ones in the shooting. That’s no longer happening.

“Sandy Hook Promise cannot support the decision by Megyn or NBC to give any form of voice or platform to Alex Jones and have asked Megyn Kelly to step down as our Promise Champion Gala host,” co-founder and managing director Nicole Hockley said in a statement. “It is our hope that Megyn and NBC reconsider and not broadcast this interview.”

Kelly issued a statement Tuesday morning expressing disappointment that the organization had uninvited her but standing by her previous statement that the interview will “shine a light” on “the considerable falsehoods he has promoted with near impunity.”

New statement from @MegynKelly about Sandy Hook Promise group’s decision to drop her as gala host:

 — @brianstelter

Meanwhile, Jones is capitalizing on the drama with a variety of strange content about his interactions with Kelly. He is simultaneously reveling that he scored a prime-time broadcast interview and attacking Kelly for being part of the “globalist” mainstream media.

Even last week, before Kelly started promoting the interview, Jones was highlighting how cozy they got during her visit, even while expressing his contempt and mistrust. “I felt zero attraction to Megyn Kelly,” he said, “because you’re dealing with a sociopath? A psychopath? I don’t know. But I wanted to see it for myself: the girl next door sitting there with the toad creature.”

In this clip, posted Monday, Jones opines, “Megyn Kelly’s playing with fire obviously. Nothing can save her show, nothing can save mainstream media.” He proceeded to compare her to Medusa the Gorgon, complete with side-by-side footage of Kelly visiting his studio and footage from an old Medusa film. Insisting the interview was clearly designed to be a hit piece against him, he explained, “I win by going into the gorgon’s pit, and I survive. I survive going into that lair, and that’s what it’s all about.”

In another clip, Jones asserted, “Megyn Kelly lied to me several weeks before she came here, and she said that the interview was not going to be about Sandy Hook and the mass shooting there, and it was not going to be about Pizzagate and these other issues that the media always obsesses on and misrepresents what I’ve said and what I’ve done.”

Based on the clip of the interview that’s been posted, Jones believes that Kelly has edited his answers out of context. He claims to have his own recordings of all their conversations, but he is now calling for Kelly to cancel airing the interview because he expects to be misrepresented. (This, of course, complicates the ability of NBC News to cancel the interview.)

I’m calling for @megynkelly to cancel the airing of our interview for misrepresenting my views on Sandy Hook –

 — @RealAlexJones

Jones now insists that he believes the Sandy Hook shooting “probably” did happen and that he was just playing devil’s advocate in the past. He still takes no responsibility for his followers who continue to harass those families, but he’s using the ambiguity to look like a victim and to further demonize Kelly.

It’s thus unclear what good can come from the Kelly interview except to help Jones reach a wider audience. No matter how hard-hitting Kelly’s questions truly are — and that remains to be seen — they’ll still likely do nothing but raise Jones’ profile. She might be using him for ratings, but he’s getting the better end of the deal.

Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones are playing each other. Megyn Kelly is losing. was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.