After much controversy, Megyn Kelly’s interview with InfoWars host and sweaty conspiratorial loon Alex Jones aired on Sunday evening. It has been zealously truncated to emphasize moments when Kelly puts pressure on Jones, but the end result is largely ho-hum uneventful journalism.
Last week, Page Six reported that Kelly heavily revised the interview—cobbled together from 13 hours of footage–in response to public backlash. Furious that Kelly would give airtime to the man who declared the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting “a hoax,” many publicly decried the decision. And unsurprisingly, Kelly lost her gig as host of a gala organized by the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. The nonprofit was founded by members of the Newtown, Connecticut community that lost children in the shooting, and its foremost mission is to seek solutions to gun violence.
Kelly, together with NBC News executives, sought ways to ameliorate the situation and decided to invite parents of the Sandy Hook victims to appear on the segment. Via a Page Six source:
“NBC was scrambling to find a way out of this mess without having to back down and cancel Sunday’s episode of Megyn’s show. Megyn and her producers made numerous calls to the Sandy Hook families this week to ask them to appear on the show. Some refused because they didn’t think appearing on her show would do enough to counter Alex Jones’s venom.”
The segment aired by NBC is extremely brief—less than 18 minutes in length—and only a sliver is devoted to the exchange between Kelly and Jones. Kelly leans heavily on her voiceover as a means of condemning Jones’s dangerous influence. She describes his “reckless accusations followed by equivocations and excuses” as a pattern characteristic of Jones. She moreover notes that “his rants can be vulgar and hate-filled.”
But in her introduction, Kelly defends her decision to broadcast an interview with such a loathsome character. His influence, she intones, cannot be ignored.
“He has millions of listeners,” Kelly emphasizes, “and the ear of our current president.” (In December 2015 Trump appeared on InfoWars and told its host, “Your reputation’s amazing.”)
In fact, much of the episode focuses on how Jones’s wide reach might be influencing Trump, though in the interview Jones diminishes his relationship with the president. They are not “friends,” he says, but “friendly.”
During the interview, Jones sweats profusely, shifting in discomfort and jaggedly interrupting as Kelly asks relatively tame questions. She does, however, accuse him of “dodging” when she remarks that—shock of shocks—many people are angry when Jones denies the reality of Sandy Hook. And in her voiceover, she tells viewers that Jones never entirely disavows his initial response to the shooting: that it was entirely fabricated.
Interspersed with the interview and footage of Jones shrieking on InfoWars, Neil Heslin appears. He is the father of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis, age six at the time of his death. Heslin upbraids Jones for his cruelly capricious remarks, emphasizing the brutal fact of holding his son “with a bullet hole through his head.” Kelly later reminds Heslin that the interview will air on Father’s Day and prompts him to direct a message to Jones. In response, Heslin merely, but gracefully, reminds Jones that he has the luxury of enjoying the holiday with his children.
And yet, Jones, who—of course—determined that Kelly sought to crucify him, had other plans. While the interview aired on NBC News, he appeared in a live YouTube broadcast entitled “Watch Live: Alex Jones Coverage Of Megyn Kelly Hit Piece.” At this post’s time of publication, Jones had not concluded his commentary.
He did, however, take a moment to pop a bottle of champagne and toast to victory over the mainstream media.
Taken as a whole, the Jones interview registers as a gloriously fruitless enterprise untaken with hubris and delivered with mediocrity. Cheers, everybody.