Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones released a tape on Thursday of a private phone call with NBC News host Megyn Kelly in which she attempted to convince Jones to participate in an interview for her show “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.”
Kelly assured Jones – who promotes fabricated theories, including that the Sandy Hook massacre, in which 20 children were killed, was staged by gun control activists – that the show wouldn’t be a “some gotcha hit piece.”
“I want people to get to know you,” Kelly told him on the call. “And the craziest thing of all would be if some of the people who have this insane version of you in their heads walk away saying, ‘You know what, I see the dad in you, I see the guy who loves those kids, and who’s more complex than I’ve been led to believe.'”
The high-profile NBC host added that it doesn’t do her “any good” to be unfair to Jones, as that could prevent her from convincing other controversial interview subjects to speak with her in the future. She promised him that the network would show the material it plans to use to Jones before airing – a uncommon practice in journalism.
“I will personally promise to look at any clips we want to use of you,” Kelly told Jones, “and have a producer run by you, whether we are taking it in context, what you are saying.”
The interview, which is set to air on NBC this Sunday, has attracted significant controversy as Jones’ critics, including parents of children killed at Sandy Hook, are arguing that Jones’ appearance on a respected news platform will legitimize him and his beliefs.
But Kelly and NBC have defended the interview, arguing that Jones’ growing influence – he has over 1.3 billion views on YouTube and his radio show, Infowars, is syndicated on 160 stations – warrants journalistic attention.
In a 30-minute YouTube video released Thursday night, Jones argued that Kelly promised to do “a softball profile” of him, but instead twisted his words and smeared his character.
“They’re misrepresenting who I am and saying I’m as bad as Saddam Hussein, or Jeffrey Dahmer, or Charles Manson,” Jones told viewers in a YouTube video.
Jones said that he secretly taped the entire interview with Kelly and would release all of the recordings following the official airing on NBC.
— Rob Dew (@DewsNewz) June 15, 2017
“We were recording the whole time,” Jones told his viewers. “These tyrants haven’t figured it out yet, that information warfare is a two-way street.”
NBC responded to Jones’ announcement on Friday, confirming that it planned to air its version of the interview this Sunday.
“Despite Alex Jones’ efforts to distract from and ultimately prevent the airing of our report, we remain committed to giving viewers context and insight into a controversial and polarizing figure, how he relates to the president of the United States and influences others, and to getting this serious story right,” an NBC spokesman said in a statement.