Social media is blowing up over news that former FOX News and newly crowned NBC anchor Megyn Kelly is planning to broadcast a sit down interview with Alex Jones.
Previous to now, I suspect most people had never heard of Alex Jones.
He operates a “news” website called InfoWars and is big into conspiracy theories. “Nothing is as it seems.” He’s most widely known for arguing that the Sandy Hook massacre was fake — staged to make gun owners look bad.
Last night, NBC aired a tease for the interview which airs on Kelly’s new show this Sunday night.
Everyone is going nuts — on Jones *AND* Megyn Kelly.
She’s been condemned for giving him a huge stage for his whacko ideas.
A big advertiser pulled out of the show (JP Morgan Chase) and Kelly has been un-invited from hosting a fundraiser for a Sandy Hook-related gun violence prevention group.
This is all *previous to seeing or hearing what she reports.*
Journalism is badly bruised right now.
The outrage over Kelly’s interview proves that most people (and at least one advertiser) are truly confused over what a real journalist does or is supposed to do.
A few of my thoughts, as someone who graduated with a degree in Journalism (Missouri) and worked in the business for 30 years before starting a social media company:
1. Journalists don’t ignore problems or problem people.
2. For a journalist to chose to interview someone doesn’t automatically mean they sympathize. In fact, most reporters relish the idea of confronting “truth to power.”
3. Attacking the messenger is too convenient and frankly tiresome.
4. It’s naive to think that by giving him a platform — that somehow elevates the risk that he will convince people that Sandy Hook was a hoax and 9/11 never happened. Isn’t it a journalist’s job to put the story in context and not simply be a conduit for dangerous information?
5. To say we are “normalizing” or “validating” what he says or does by interviewing him is b.s.
6. The interview hasn’t aired yet. Not watching is your most powerful protest.
You would think NBC had asked him to sub for Lester Holt one night — or was giving him the keys to his own show.
He is being *Interviewed* for the purposes of being *understood* and as far as we know, Kelly was not restricted in what she could ask or “truth squad.”
Read Facebook, and there are people who buy in to what he says. Now is not the time to pretend that people like Alex Jones don’t exist or aren’t influential. (In fact, Kelly tweeted in her own defense that he has White House press credentials.)
No shortage of opinion in social media
This comment on Facebook sums it up nicely:
Remember in the 80s and 90s and 2000s, Barbara Walters or Mike Wallace or someone else on 60 Minutes would interview some murderous piece of human filth and everyone would tune in and watch and move on with their lives? How did we get so pathetic?
When I was a TV news reporter, I toured Menard prison in Illinois where mass murderer John Wayne Gacy was on death row.
We got to take video of his cell — he was a huge Cubs fan and had paraphernalia everywhere.
Should the Cubs have demanded that he remove the Cubs stuff because the association would “normalize” him or what he had done?
Before judging, let’s allow a journalist the space to do her work.