Megyn Kelly on Tuesday defended her interview with Alex Jones, the far-right founder of InfoWars.com, a site that has perpetuated conspiracy theories about 9/11 and the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
In a tweet, Kelly said she was disappointed that she was uninvited as a guest at a gala hosted by relatives of the victims of the Sandy Hook elementary shooting in Connecticut, which left 20 children dead. Among numerous unproven theories, Jones has peddled an unfounded conspiracy about the tragedy.
But she also defended the importance of interviewing the InfoWars founder, citing President Donald Trump’s 2015 interview with Jones, who the then-Republican presidential candidate dubbed “amazing.”
Here is my statement regarding Sunday night’s interview: pic.twitter.com/iS2VfyLt6S
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) June 13, 2017
Pressure has grown on Kelly to deliver a hard-hitting interview or cancel the segment altogether.
Vox criticized Kelly for potentially “disseminating his bull—-,” while the Daily Beast called the interview a “ratings grab,” noting that Kelly largely bungled high-profile sit-downs with Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-candidate Trump.
J.P. Morgan reportedly pulled its ads from next Sunday’s broadcast, while public figures like Chelsea Clinton and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio – a champion of the democratized independent media ecosystem in select cases – called for NBC to pull the segment.
Trump may promote Alex Jones, but NBC News shouldn’t give a platform to someone who claims 9/11 & Sandy Hook were hoaxes. Pull the segment.
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) June 12, 2017
Other media analysts have suggested alternatives to simply canceling the interview or going forward as planned.
The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan argued that although exposing Jones is “crucial,” a Kelly interview “isn’t the way to do it,” suggesting instead that Kelly’s NBC News team should use the material as “one piece of a no-holds-barred investigation of Alex Jones and others like him.”
“A serious investigation of Jones by America’s top news network would do the real work of journalism: spreading the truth and holding an influential figure accountable for his dangerous lies,” Sullivan wrote. “A soft one-on-one interview, by itself, is nothing more than entertainment.”
Some journalists have defended Kelly’s decision to interview Jones.
BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel, who has covered Jones for years, opined that attempts to stop Jones by shutting him out “misunderstands the media’s role in the Trump era.” He pointed to Jones’ enormous online audience that includes hundreds of thousands of visitors to his website every day, as well as thousands of listeners and online subscribers.
“The media’s job now is not simply uncovering and sharing news, it’s helping its audiences navigate the often treacherous sea of information and ‘alternative facts,'” Warzel wrote.
CNN’s Dylan Byers wrote that interviewing noxious, yet influential, political figures is a journalistic tradition.