Megyn Kelly

Tags ››› Megyn Kelly
  • Bret Stephens and MSNBC’s hiring spree: The network keeps moving right

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN WHITEHOUSE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Update: MSNBC and Greta Van Susteren have agreed to part ways.

    MSNBC is now a pasture for pseudo-intellectual conservatives. Climate denier and Iraq War booster Bret Stephens is just the latest right-wing hire at the network.

    In recent months NBC News Chairman Andy Lack has overseen a hiring spree of right-wing pundits and former Fox News personalities. The stable includes Hugh Hewitt, Megyn Kelly, Charlie Sykes, Greta Van Susteren, and George Will. They join other conservatives at the network: Elise Jordan, Steve Schmidt, Michael Steele, Rick Tyler, Nicolle Wallace, and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough. This is to say nothing of NBC News contributor and Trump apologist Mark Halperin; and given their frequent appearances, it may be just a matter of time until David Frum, a speechwriter for then-President George W. Bush, former George W. Bush chief of staff Andy Card, and neocon Bill Kristol join the network as well.

    Compared to CNN’s boorish Trumpists or the state media apparatchiks at Fox News, the common thread among MSNBC conservatives is a certain pretentious shine. They’re frequently just arguing that President Donald Trump is the wrong type of conservative, when in fact Trump is the apotheosis of everything conservatism has been careening toward for some time. (The exception is Hugh Hewitt, who is now just a huge Trump booster after vacillating during the campaign.) 

    Many of these hires have direct, intimate connections to Bush, the most disastrous president in decades. Card, Frum, Jordan, and Wallace worked in the Bush administration, and Stephens, Kristol, Will, Scarborough, and Hewitt were all huge cheerleaders for the Iraq War. And that history matters. Two major media institutions, including a newspaper of record, are now paying Stephens essentially just to troll liberals with climate denial and to push America towards a war with Iran.

    You can separate Lack’s hiring spree into two buckets: pundits and brands. Neither offer much value in the long run. In this media environment, opinions are cheap (including mine!). Everyone has one and most of them stink. There’s no long-term return on opinions (and no lack of people wanting to get on TV to share theirs).

    Adding brands like Megyn Kelly or Greta Van Susteren is equally pointless. It’s no wonder that both of these shows have failed. There’s simply no audience for them outside the Fox News bubble. Particularly with Kelly, NBC News executives seem completely unaware that her entire show at Fox News was built around racial dog-whistling (with occasional moments of bucking the party line).

    Also, as Ryan Grim noted, it is the progressive shows that Lack hasn’t touched that are succeeding the most.

    Rather than spending all this money on right-wing pundits and big names, the true value-add for news networks now is reliable and aggressive journalism. That’s hard to do. It’s expensive. It’s time-consuming. But it’s ultimately what will define NBC News and MSNBC.

  • Megyn Kelly's Alex Jones segment shows how public pressure works

    It could have gone worse, but a competent report won't undo the damage done

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A well-deserved firestorm of denunciations from the families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting and other critics forced Megyn Kelly to turn a report that was originally billed as a self-promotional head-to-head showdown with Alex Jones into a well-edited investigation of the dangers posed by an unstable megalomaniac with millions of loyal fans, including one in the Oval Office.

    But Kelly deserves little credit -- she acted in response to overwhelming public pressure, and the network’s impotent reaction to Jones’ own grabs for media attention may allow the nation's biggest producer of conspiracy theory media to come out the winner of tonight’s program.

    At no point since Kelly teased her interview with Jones at the end of last week’s show has she or NBC been able to control the narrative spinning out of her own show. It’s a shocking failure for one of the media’s savviest manipulators of her own image, and the network that hired her.

    Immediately after last week’s Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly, Sandy Hook family members began speaking out. They said they had suffered years of torment and harassment due to Jones’ claims that the shooting was a “hoax,” and denounced Kelly for granting him a platform. Desperate to salvage the situation as brutal headlines rolled in, NBC all but promised its critics that the segment would be edited to portray Jones as negatively as possible.

    That’s exactly what happened. The segment benefited from devoting very little time to Kelly’s interview with Jones, minimizing his opportunity to appeal to her audience. Instead, through strong voiceover, clips from Jones’ program featuring the host spouting conspiracies, and interviews with a conservative commentator who opposes Jones’ influence and the father of a child who died at Sandy Hook, Kelly explained how Jones operates, the harassment his targets experience, and his close ties to President Donald Trump.

    The segment reportedly went through drastic changes following the spate of condemnation, with NBC adding an interview with a Sandy Hook family member and slicing and dicing the footage of Kelly’s sit-down with Jones to make it more damaging to him. It’s not unusual for networks to edit stories right up until airtime. But last week’s public relations nightmare clearly played a role in the segment NBC ended up running.

    NBC deserved that nightmare. Kelly was hired to be a new face of the network and given a program aimed to challenge CBS’ 60 Minutes for newsmagazine primacy. But after the first episodes of her newsmagazine show suffered from poor ratings and reviews criticizing her interviewing skill, NBC took a chance with a Jones sit-down, which offered Kelly the opportunity to reset the show’s reputation with a viral moment.

    That the network’s executives apparently didn’t realize that news of the segment would trigger a backlash from Jones’ victims shows a tremendous lack of foresight and ignorance of the subject matter. NBC paid for that failure with a series of awful news cycles pitting their new star against traumatized families who had lost their children who castigated Kelly for giving Jones a platform.

    I believe Jones is a newsworthy subject for national news outlets. It is important for the American people to learn how the nation's most prominent conspiracy theorist has garnered a large audience and gained the ear of Trump (the circumstances were different earlier in the decade, when Media Matters criticized several networks for giving him a platform). But as I argued last week, interviewing Jones’ victims would be more likely to shed light on his character than Kelly’s initial approach of focusing on a head-to-head showdown. The week of controversy drastically changed NBC’s calculus, producing a significantly better segment than suggested by last Sunday’s preview.

    It’s too early to tell whether the Sandy Hook families who criticized the decision to interview Jones will be satisfied with the result, or if they will deal another blow to Kelly’s stature. But while Jones isn't having a meltdown, he can't feel good about the segment's clear implication that he is a dangerous extremist. And given how badly the radio host beat the network’s PR team this week, they may have something to fear from him as well.

    Kelly and her network were caught flat-footed, unable to either anticipate or successfully react as Jones repeatedly outmaneuvered them, taking control of the narrative and successfully framing the story for the national media through the propagandistic manipulations that make him such a dangerous force.

    Jones “has learned how to program the mainstream news by inciting outrage online that is then discussed and covered by mainstream media,” BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel reported after Jones released embarrassing audio of phone calls in which Kelly tries to talk him into doing the interview. “But Kelly and NBC were ill-equipped to deal with the pro-Trump media apparatus. Instead, they adhered to the traditional rules of a big television interview that assume a good-faith relationship between interviewer and interviewee.”

    Jones escalated his public relations offensive as the interview approached, releasing a Father’s Day video in which he offered “sincere condolences” to the Sandy Hook families, lied about his previous comments about the attack, and lashed out at NBC. Jones was live on the air before Kelly’s show aired, spreading rumors about Kelly and threatening to release his own recording of their interview if he was displeased with the result. After it aired, seeking to bolster the image that he won the night, he and his cronies drank a champagne toast on camera. As Jones again tried to take over the story online, the NBC News and Megyn Kelly twitter feeds went dark, ceding him the social space.

    The radio host wanted more attention, and he got it, seeking to build his audience by portraying himself as the mainstream media’s victim. Thanks to Kelly’s failure to control her own narrative, he may well succeed.

    Kelly’s segment demonstrates that, with enough pressure, broadcast outlets can produce adequate reports on the pro-Trump fringe. But the last week shows they still haven’t learned enough to effectively defend their work against an alternative media assault. And it remains to be seen whether NBC’s failure to control the narrative around Jones’ interview helped him more than an otherwise competent segment hurt him.

  • What Megyn Kelly says in leaked audio from Alex Jones

    Kelly soothes Jones’ fragile ego, assures him the interview will not be contentious, tells him that her show is about “fun,” and even promises to let Jones review any clips they use.

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF


    Sarah Wasko/Media Matters

    Just days ahead of Megyn Kelly’s June 18 interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the Infowars founder leaked purported audio of him and the NBC anchor. Jones was seeking to defend himself because he believed that Kelly, whom he called a “modern-day Medusa,” would edit her report to make it a hit piece on Jones.

    There is no doubt that the audio was edited by Infowars. Jones released it to portray himself in a favorable light and “set the record straight” after he didn’t like NBC’s promo of his interview. Though Jones admits at points that he has done things that he is not proud of, the phone call includes several telling moments about Kelly and NBC:

    Kelly wooed Jones by downplaying his lying, conspiracy theories, and connections to harassment

    • “The reason you are interesting to me is because I followed your custody case, and I think you had a very good point about the way the media was covering it and for some reason treated you and your family and what was going on as fair game when they never would have done that, if you will, of a mainstream media figure. And I saw a different side of you in that whole thing. You just became very fascinating to me.”
    • “I just sort of thought you were this maybe, you know, one-dimensional guy. Like this is your thing. And the comments I heard from you during the course of that trial, and your plea to the media to be respectful of you and your kids just reminded me that you’re just like anybody. You know, you’re a dad.

    Kelly pledged that she wouldn’t ask Jones tough questions, that her show was “fun,” and that the interview would not be a “gotcha hit piece”

    • After Jones asked if Kelly would bring up his controversies, including his comments about Sandy Hook and Pizzagate: “No, I can ask you about that. This is not going to be a contentious, sort of, gotcha exchange. Right? That’s not what this show is and that’s really not what I want to do. I want to do in-depth profiles on people. Just interesting people. So I can ask you that, this is what the critics say. But this isn’t going to be ah-ha, let’s play a clip.
    • “I’m trying to create a different kind of program. And it’s fun. I’ll ask you about some of the controversies, of course. And you’ll say whatever you want to say. But, it’s not going to be some gotcha hit piece. I promise you that."
    • I’m not looking to portray you as some boogeyman, or, you know, do any sort of a gotcha moment. I just want to talk about you. I want people to get to know you. 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, like, the dad in him. I see the guy who loves those kids, and who is more complex than I’ve been led to believe.’”

    Kelly told Jones he would have oversight of portions of the interview

    • “I will promise you to personally look at any clips we want to use of you. And have a producer run by you whether we are taking it in context and what you are saying about it.
    • “If I ask you about any controversy, you’ll have the chance to address it fully. And I’m not going to cut you in a way that’s going to take out the heart of your explanation or the real substance of it. I won’t do that.”
    • “We’ll do like a walk-and-talk and we’ll set up something nice. Or we can -- one of my producers will weigh in on that because they know how to make it look beautiful. And they’ll work with you and do something that’s acceptable to you.”

    Kelly referred to her audience on NBC as “the left”

    • “My goal is for your listeners, and the left who will be watching, some, on NBC, to say, ‘Wow, that was really interesting.’ All I can do is give you my word and tell you if there’s one thing about me, I do what I say I’m going to do, and I don’t double-cross. So I promise you, when it’s over you’ll say, ‘Absolutely, she did what she said she was going to do.’ And you’ll be fine with it.”

    Kelly highlighted the lack of editorial standards in cable news, such as her previous employer Fox​

    • “Truly, it’s like a whole new world over there [at NBC]. They deeply care about this kind of thing. And, it’s not that we didn’t care on cable. It’s just a different game on cable. You know, you move faster and it’s more real time. And it’s just the fact that more mistakes get made."

    Ever since Kelly floated the idea of this interview to Jones, he has been manipulating her and NBC with near impunity. As BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel wrote, “Jones has been in control of Kelly’s interview and delighting his audience every step of the way. He broke the news of the interview on his show in late May; he was the first to post teaser photos of Kelly in the Infowars studio online; he got out in front of the interview last week with a misogynistic tirade about how he wasn’t attracted to Kelly and called her and the interview ‘fake news.’”

    This trolling comes at a cost. Search traffic for Jones is at a multiyear high:

    Julie Alderman and John Whitehouse contributed to this piece. Language has been updated for clarity.

  • Days before Megyn Kelly interview airs, Alex Jones pushes more Sandy Hook conspiracy theories

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Just days before NBC is set to air an interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Megyn Kelly’s new show, Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly, Jones once again pushed several conspiracy theories about the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    Kelly and NBC’s decision to interview Jones has created a firestorm of controversy, with some family members of Sandy Hook victims calling for NBC to shelve the recorded interview given that Jones has pushed toxic conspiracy theories about the shooting that spurred some of his followers to harass the families. Page Six reported that following harsh criticism of the decision to give Jones a platform, Kelly invited Sandy Hook families to be interviewed for the episode as well.

    During the June 15 broadcast of The Alex Jones Show, Jones promoted several conspiracy theories that he and others have previously used to deny that the tragedy ever happened.

    Citing the U.S. government’s use of misinformation to justify wars in the Middle East, Jones said, “If they’ll do that, then am I supposed to question Sandy Hook when it happens and they’ve got the kids going in circles in and out of the building, and they don’t call the rescue helicopters, and then instead an hour later there’s port-a-potties and food being delivered and PR firms are there and Anderson Cooper says he’s on location but he’s clearly faking the location.”

    It should go without saying that Jones’ claims about the shooting that took 26 lives are false.

    On his show, Jones continued to lie about what he has said about the Sandy Hook tragedy in the past, saying he has “looked at every angle of” the shooting and claiming that he has said previously, “It could have been totally true, could have been totally fake.” (In recent months, Jones has repeatedly claimed he was merely playing “devil’s advocate” when commenting on the shooting.)

    As Media Matters documented, in the years following the tragedy, Jones definitively stated on several occasions that the shooting did not happen. In 2014, for example, Jones said, “It took me about a year with Sandy Hook to come to grips with the fact that the whole thing was fake.”

    Jones has been lying about his past comments on Sandy Hook since his statements started drawing heightened scrutiny following his claim after the 2016 election that President Donald Trump would soon appear on his show. (Trump appeared on Jones show in 2015 and praised the conspiracy theorist’s “amazing” reputation.)

    Kelly’s interview is set to air June 18 at 7 p.m. EST.

    Jones’ June 15 comments on Sandy Hook:

    ALEX JONES (HOST): It is a fact that on the eve of the Gulf War in 1990 a PR firm was hired, and the daughter of the owner of the PR firm, who’d never been to Kuwait and who spoke fluent English and had been brought up in the U.S., went and testified to seeing Iraqi soldiers ripping babies out of incubators and bashing their brains out by the hundreds. This was used as the pretext to launch that war that was meant to legitimize the U.N. as a global government body and bring in a new world order as George Herbert Walker Bush said, or Bush 41. Now, if criminal elements of our government will do something like that to launch now three wars in the Middle East, back radical jihadists to take over Iraq, Syria, Libya, other areas, overthrow our allies in Egypt, kill millions of people, starve millions more, and have Madeline Albright, Clinton’s secretary of state, say a half-million kids is an OK price to pay -- in fact, let’s cue that up. If they’ll do that, then am I supposed to question Sandy Hook when it happens and they’ve got the kids going in circles in and out of the building, and they don’t call the rescue helicopters, and then instead an hour later there’s port-a-potties and food being delivered and PR firms are there and Anderson Cooper says he’s on location but he’s clearly faking the location. We looked at every angle of that. And so they’ve now misrepresented what we’ve said, that I said it could have been totally true, could have been totally fake. I didn’t progenerate. I didn’t create. I wasn't the fount of that. The things that I am the fountain of, I’ll tell you. 1776 worldwide. Rebooting America. Nationalism.

  • Media Matters Angelo Carusone explains to USA Today why the bar is set so high for interviewing Alex Jones

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a USA Today report, Media Matters President Angelo Carusone explained how Megyn Kelly’s upcoming NBC interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, while “not necessarily inappropriate” because of Jones’ newsworthy connections to President Donald Trump, appears to be in danger of falling short by failing to provide sufficient context and criticism of Jones.

    Kelly, desperate for “a viral moment” after her debut episode on NBC lost the ratings war to a CBS 60 Minutes re-run, traveled to Austin, Texas, to interview Jones about his rise to fame as a prominent conspiracy theorist. In previewed clips from the upcoming interview, Kelly asks Jones softball questions such as, “They call you the most paranoid man in America. Is that true?”

    While the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims have spoken out on giving a platform to Sandy Hook truther Jones, Kelly has defended the interview by claiming she wants to “shine a light” about the “considerable falsehoods” he spews. As a result of the interview, J.P. Morgan announced they would be removing ads from NBC News and Sandy Hook Promise, “a leading gun violence prevention organization,” disinvited Kelly from hosting the organization’s Promise Champions Gala.

    In the interview with USA Today, Carusone agreed there “is a really compelling case to be made that you should shine a light on Alex Jones” but also warned that the apparent purpose of Jones’ feature on Kelly’s show “was not to really draw a meaningful critique of the way that the current president gets his information and who he gets it from.” From the June 12 article:

    Megyn Kelly and NBC are facing blowback for an upcoming TV interview with the controversial radio host Alex Jones.

    Opposition quickly surfaced soon after promotional videos of the interview with the InfoWars founder, scheduled for the June 18 episode of Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly, were first shown during the June 11 episode and appeared online.

    A #ShameonNBC hashtag began trending on Twitter with an outcry of concern about giving a platform to Jones, who in the past has supported conspiracy theories about the government blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and the 9/11 terror attacks. "9/11 was an inside job," he says in the promo video.

    [...]

    NBC and Kelly's booking of Jones is not necessarily inappropriate, says Angelo Carusone, president of liberal media activist group Media Matters. "There actually is a really compelling case to be made that you should shine a light on Alex Jones because of his relationship with the current president," he said.

    However, Carusone expects, based on the preview and Kelly's past performances -- including last week's interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin -- "it appears that the reason of having Alex Jones on was not to really draw a meaningful critique of the way that the current president gets his information and who he gets it from."

    A softball interview, "allows him to promote himself," he said. "The idea he is on NBC, in and of itself, is a really big deal. What that says for his audience is that he is so important and powerful that even the people that Alex Jones speaks the worst of can’t ignore him anymore." [USA Today, 6/12/17]

  • Here is exactly what Alex Jones has said about the Sandy Hook massacre

    Jones on Sandy Hook: “Staged,” “inside job,” “undoubtedly there’s a cover-up,” “giant hoax,” “the whole thing was fake,” “in my view, manufactured”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is calling for his upcoming interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly not to air because he says Kelly misrepresented his views on the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

    A short promotional video released by Kelly on June 11 showed Jones attempting to obfuscate and spin his past statements about Sandy Hook, with the prominent conspiracy theorist and ally of President Donald Trump calling Sandy Hook “complex,” claiming he has advocated both for and against concluding that the shooting actually happened, and claiming he “looked at all the angles.”

    Following the release of this promo, Jones wrote on Twitter, “I'm calling for @megynkelly to cancel the airing of our interview for misrepresenting my views on Sandy Hook.” Jones’ tweet included a link to a 40-minute video in which he complained about the interview. The interview is scheduled to air June 18.

    While we don’t know how the Sandy Hook exchange will play out in the full interview, what can be proved is that Jones is a liar who -- since developing a high profile during the 2016 election -- has attempted to sanitize his definitive past claims that the shooting was a “hoax.”

    In 2013, Jones called the shooting “staged” and said, “It’s got inside job written all over it.”

    In March 2014, Jones said, “I’ve looked at it and undoubtedly there’s a cover-up, there’s actors, they’re manipulating, they’ve been caught lying, and they were pre-planning before it and rolled out with it.”

    In December 2014, Jones said on his radio program, “The whole thing is a giant hoax.”

    Jones continued: “The general public doesn’t know the school was actually closed the year before. They don’t know they’ve sealed it all, demolished the building. They don’t know that they had the kids going in circles in and out of the building as a photo-op. Blue screen, green screens, they got caught using.”

    Making it clear he didn’t view the occurrence of the shooting as an open question, Jones explicitly said that the Obama administration was behind the shooting, noting, “It took me about a year with Sandy Hook to come to grips with the fact that the whole thing was fake.”

    Jones made similar comments the following January, saying the shooting was “a synthetic, completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured. I couldn’t believe it at first. I knew they had actors there, clearly, but I thought they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are that they clearly used actors.”

    In July 2015, Jones said cast doubt on whether children were actually killed during the shooting, before citing prominent Sandy Hook hoaxer Wolfgang Halbig.

    Jones began to spin his past Sandy Hook statements in earnest following the victory of Donald Trump as his past statements came under increased scrutiny because of his association with Trump and his claim that the new president would appear on his show in the near future.

    Despite his recent contradictory claims about the shooting, Jones continues to make statements that fuel Sandy Hook conspiracy theories.

    Here are some headlines that advance Sandy Hook conspiracy theories that are still active on Jones’ website, Infowars.com:

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]
     

    [Infowars.com, accessed 6/13/17]

  • Megyn Kelly turned to Alex Jones because her struggling show needs a viral moment

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Just a week after mocking the breakdown in civility on cable news shows and in the White House during the premiere episode of her new NBC newsmagazine program, last night Megyn Kelly teased an upcoming interview with Infowars’ Alex Jones, the megalomaniacal radio host known for his wide range of conspiracy theories.

    The first episode of Kelly’s Sunday Night was panned by critics and lost in the ratings war against a rerun of its direct competitor, CBS’ 60 Minutes. Her Jones interview, scheduled to air June 18, is an attempt to overcome this poor start by manufacturing a “Megyn moment” -- one of those unexpected instances where Kelly calls out her right-wing guest’s nonsense. These often-viral interview segments do little to inform Kelly’s audience. But they helped her gain an undeserved reputation in the mainstream press as an impartial truth-teller -- in part by distracting observers from the extreme, race-inflected rhetoric that made her a creature of the cable news culture that she now claims to deplore.

    Kelly certainly isn’t the first television host for whom high-minded rhetoric about creating a different type of program quickly yields to the raw desire to build on the show’s audience by any possible means. But the bar is high for Kelly’s Sunday Night, a program which aspires to compete with the storied 60 Minutes brand as a source of agenda-setting interviews and investigations. To do so, the show needs to not only entertain viewers -- or build Kelly’s brand -- but actually inform them about crucial events happening in the world around them.

    As such, the clips of Kelly’s interview with Jones that were previewed last night do not inspire confidence. Kelly asked Jones questions that could not possibly yield honest or accurate responses (“They call you the most paranoid man in America. Is that true?”) and sparred with him over his claims that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks and faked the Sandy Hook mass shooting.

    It is extremely difficult to successfully interview a conspiracy theorist who is willing to lie about what he has previously alleged. The subject can often run circles around the interviewer both because he is inevitably more familiar with the nuances of the theory and because he is willing to engage in rhetorical strategies for which the interviewer just isn’t ready. After the interview is over, the conspiracy theorist can retreat to his own media platforms to provide his own spin on what happened to an audience predisposed to believe him, not the mainstream press.

    This phenomenon was on display in March, when 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley interviewed the pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich. As BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel explained, “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.”

    At worst, if Kelly is similarly unprepared, she will have given a platform and the NBC imprimatur of credibility to one of the more despicable figures in that parallel press, helping him gain access to a new audience. That’s what happened back in 2011, when MSNBC, NBC, and ABC all hosted Jones to discuss actor Charlie Sheen’s bizarre interview on his show. At the time, Jones acknowledged what should have been obvious -- that he was using those opportunities to “inject Infowars.com into the discussion” in the hope that “people will come here and find the larger picture." Jones is hoping history will repeat itself, having been counseled by Infowars cohort Roger Stone to do the interview in order to “break through to the mainstream.”

    At best, Kelly will joust with Jones over his past conspiracy theories, perhaps trapping him once or twice in a way that creates a “Megyn moment,” bolstering her brand and allowing her show to recover from a rough opening. (After sitting for the interview last week, Jones linked Kelly with the “new world order” and announced to viewers that he wasn't even attracted to her, suggesting that he is not happy with the result.) But the NBC audience probably won’t learn much from an interview segment in which two people operate from contrary views of reality. And Jones will still have had the opportunity to pitch his show to her viewers, and he will be able to manipulate the result in order to build his credibility with his own audience.

    That opportunity is angering the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy. On Facebook and Twitter, they have called out Kelly, describing how Jones’ conspiracy theories have spurred years of emotionally brutal harassment from his fans and warning that giving him a platform can only encourage that campaign of abuse.

    Jones is a newsworthy subject, and it’s important for the American people to know about his relationship with the president. But given the difficulty in pinning down Jones on the facts, the best way to inform a radio or television audience about Jones isn’t to build a segment around a high-profile interview with him -- it’s to interview his victims.

    Don’t ask Jones how he feels about the people who “get very angry” about him saying that the Sandy Hook parents faked their children’s death. Sit down with those family members and ask them how their lives have been changed by Jones making those claims to an audience of millions, as the BBC’s Mike Wendling did earlier this year.

    Without giving Jones the opportunity to spread his lies to a new audience, you can lay out his conspiracy theories, why they are wrong, their impact, and what it means that he has fans in the White House.

    A segment like that will educate your audience about one of the worst people in public life. It might even be riveting television. It just won’t give you a “Megyn moment.”

  • Alex Jones melts down after being interviewed by Megyn Kelly

    Jones on Kelly: “Not feminine -- cold, robotic, dead. I felt zero attraction to Megyn Kelly”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Prominent conspiracy theorist and President Donald Trump ally Alex Jones is lashing out after being interviewed by Megyn Kelly for an episode of NBC’s Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly. Following Tuesday’s interview taping, Jones is now suggesting Kelly is aligned with the “New World Order” globalist conspiracy theory, complaining that she is producing a “fake news” piece about him, and declaring that she is “not feminine” but is “cold, robotic, dead.

    Kelly visited Jones at his Austin, TX, studios Tuesday to conduct an interview with him for an upcoming episode of her show.

    At the top of the June 7 broadcast of The Alex Jones Show, Jones declared Kelly’s interview of him to be “fake news” and said of the show’s producer: “I felt like the lady that’s the lead producer -- nice southern belle lady, older lady -- is like somebody that leads you to the gas chamber, or to the hangman’s noose, or to the electric chair. They comfort you, give you your last meal.”

    Jones continued complaining about the interview later in the show, suggesting that Kelly is associated with the “New World Order” conspiracy theory and claiming that she “was kind of snickering about world government and forced population control.”

    He suggested that Kelly is a “sociopath” or “psychopath,” and also said Kelly is “not feminine” but instead is “cold, robotic, dead.” He added, “I felt zero attraction to Megyn Kelly.”

    Prior to conducting the interview, Kelly visited Jones’ studio to observe him as he broadcast the June 6 edition of his program. Jones paused his conversation with a guest to speak with Kelly about her show and their upcoming interview. During an exchange about whether Kelly will interview Trump, Jones asked her whether she would sit in Trump’s lap, to which Kelly responded, “Move on.” Jones also said, “I got to say, she’s prettier in person.” Kelly responded, “I never know whether that’s a compliment or not in my line of work.”

    Over the past few weeks, Jones has repeatedly made lewd comments about Kelly. During his May 15 broadcast, Jones said Kelly “thinks I’m a Texas hillbilly and that a hot woman telling me how much she wants to interview me and how she’s obsessed with me will get me to talk to her. And even though I know it was B.S., it still works, so I’m going to be doing the interview.”

    He then repeatedly asked his guest co-host whether he should “put her over my knee” during the interview, later adding that he was talking about how he’d “put her over my knee politically,” and said, “Can we put [the late model] Betty Page on screen please, putting a girl over her knee?” He that he was “trolling” because “I can’t help it. I can say anything I want and it’s all over the news the next day.”

    Jones again made lewd comments about Kelly during his May 31 broadcast, saying, “Megyn Kelly’s coming next week. I want Kathy Griffin, me, and Megyn Kelly to oil wrestle next week on air.” Seconds later he said, “I’m just challenging Megyn Kelly and Kathy Griffin to a boxing match -- I’ll take both of them on,” explaining that he was trying to allude to comedian Andy Kaufman, who wrestled women.

    No air date has been announced for Jones’ interview. This week, Kelly’s show will air an interview with sportscaster Erin Andrews.

    More transcript of Jones’ complaints about Kelly:

    ALEX JONES (HOST): When we do the right thing, we join our ancestors in the great quest. In God’s great plan. The “New World Order” will fail. It will fall. All of these arrogant sellouts that serve the globalist program will be punished in this life. They all lie to themselves and think they’re part of the power elite. I told Megyn Kelly last night while she was kind of snickering about world government and forced population control. I said pediatric cancers are up over 10,000 percent. Fifty years ago, a doctor would fly across the country to see a child with cancer. Now you go to the mall, to your left, to your right, the kids have got their shaved heads, they’ve got their brain surgery marks all over them. I mean, I was in one restaurant and there was four kids you could tell had brain surgery stumbling around with their motor functions hacked in half from whatever hellish testing they’d gone through -- poor little babies.

    And I said, “Surely, surely by the time you’re an old woman, most of your family will be dead from cancer.” And I said, “Your children are going to die of cancer.” And the people around were like, “Whoa.” Her crew, she had a big -- they were like “Whoa, can we spin that? Like he’s hoping they die of cancer?” And I said, “I’m not hoping they die of cancer.” But I said, “Surely, know that if it’s 10,000-plus percent now -- and that’s an old number -- it’s going to be 20-, 30,000, 40,000 percent just the next few decades, it’s estimated. And it’s going to kill your children, Megyn. You’re going to outlive your children, Megyn. And I’ve got children on this planet too as well and I want to reverse this, so you think about working for those psychopaths.”

    Go ahead and show some pictures of her. You think about working for the “New World Order” long and hard. And everybody at Media Matters and all the rest of you, you think about that. Because you can have that painted-on Joker smile all you want. And those lawyer sociopath eyes. But at the end of the day, I’ve spoken the truth, and I’ve warned you, and I’ve laid out the facts. Because I have basic humanity. And I know that’s not the trendy mainline culture that’s pushed -- and I’m not even singling Megyn Kelly out and saying she’s the end-all, be-all of evil.

    But not feminine -- cold, robotic, dead. I felt zero attraction to Megyn Kelly. That’s not an insult to Megyn Kelly. I talked to a lot of other folks that know her, they said, “No, it’s the same.” Because you’re dealing with -- 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 [Alex Jones]. And again, she can come off like the sweetest, nicest person. She told me point blank in a long phone conversation that she wasn’t going to get into the things and wasn’t going to focus on the things that I knew she was coming for. And then for 90 minutes -- that was the last interview of three yesterday -- she did everything she said she wouldn’t in spades. And I knew that from before she ever came. But I wanted to see it for myself. And so that we could all see it for ourselves as well and experience what it is to serve the force that is strangling this country.

  • Alex Jones on supposed upcoming interview with "hot woman" Megyn Kelly: "Should I put her over my knee?"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON & ERIC HANANOKI

    Alex Jones’ website Infowars is promoting a video that says he will participate in an interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly this week. Kelly, formerly of Fox News, is now the host of NBC’s Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly. The show premiered June 4.

    Jones, the host of The Alex Jones Show, has been discussing his purported interactions with Kelly and her producers for several weeks on his daily program, often while making lewd comments about Kelly, including saying he should “oil wrestle” with her. Jones has also claimed that Kelly assured him he would “like” the interview and that it wouldn’t be a “hit piece,” but Jones thinks she was misleading him just to secure the on-camera talk.

    Politico media reporter Hadas Gold reported that NBC declined to comment on whether the interview will take place. Jones said on the June 5 broadcast of his show that Kelly will interview him Tuesday evening.

    Jones’ sexist comments aside, if the interview does happen, it will give Kelly an opportunity to attempt to hold Jones accountable for the many toxic conspiracy theories he has pushed -- and the violent language and anti-LGBT slurs he often uses when attacking his opponents.

    Will Kelly hold Jones accountable for his past claims?

    In one conversation about the supposed Kelly interview, Jones’ Infowars cohort Roger Stone advised Jones to do the interview because it could afford him an opportunity to “break through to the mainstream.” Given Kelly's prominent new role on NBC News, there are countless issues she can press Jones on to make sure the audience doesn’t come away with the impression he is anything other than a toxic conspiracy theorist.

    Jones has claimed that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT, was a “giant hoax,” saying that “the whole thing was fake.” He has claimed that that the shooting was “completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured,” adding, “I couldn’t believe it at first. I knew they had actors there, clearly, but I thought they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are, that they clearly used actors.” He has also mocked the grief of the victims’ families and smeared the parents as actors who “do the hyperventilating to cry to go on TV.”

    The families of the Sandy Hook tragedy have criticized Jones for his horrific remarks and spoken about “the hateful fictions that he spews.”

    For years, Jones has claimed that the 9/11 attacks were an “inside job” by the federal government and that Osama bin Laden was “a CIA asset” and “a CIA hireling doing his job” for the government.

    Jones has also pushed conspiracy theories about other tragedies. He alleged the Oklahoma City bombing was a “staged event” by “criminals in Washington” to get sympathy to pass President Clinton’s policy agenda. He claimed mass shootings in Aurora, CO; Columbine, CO; Tucson, AZ; San Bernardino, CA; and Orlando, FL, were “false flag” events. And Jones said the Boston Marathon bombing was “staged” and the bombers were “recruited by globalist intelligence agencies and set up horribly.”

    Jones has also repeatedly bragged about his communications with President Donald Trump both before and after his election. And Trump has repeatedly pushed ideas and rhetoric that have been tied back to Jones. 

    He has also launched sexist and anti-LGBTQ attacks, and used violent rhetoric against his perceived adversaries. Jones said in late March that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) “looks like the archetypal cocksucker” and a “fairy” and then said to him about any claims that Jones is colluding with the Russians: “You get in my face with that I’ll beat your goddamn ass, you son of a bitch. You piece of shit. ... Fill your hand.” He later claimed that his threat was just an “art performance.”

    Jones previewed his interview with Kelly by making lewd comments about her

    On his show, Jones has repeatedly discussed the possibility of participating in an interview with Kelly.

    He first raised the possibility during his May 15 broadcast. Jones said that Kelly called him and promised him he would “like” the outcome of the interview, but he also expressed skepticism that the interview was a setup:

    ALEX JONES: She’s a really smart lady, a good-looking lady. And she’s sitting there going, "You’re number one on my list. Alex, I’m kind of obsessed with you." Oh I’m sorry -- this is off record. "Alex, I’ve got to have this interview, Alex." And, "We’re going to do this interview, Alex, and it’s going to happen, and it’s going to be good, and you’re going to like it, and I pledge to you it’s going to be real, and I’m going to let you talk and this isn’t a hit piece, Alex.” And I’m going to stop right there because the rest is off record. But I was just like even though I knew I was being sold by the greatest used car salesman on earth, I thought P.T. Barnum had been reincarnated right in front of me. I wanted just the experience of her coming to Austin.

    Moments later in the broadcast, Jones made sexual comments about Kelly. He first said, Kelly “thinks I’m a Texas hillbilly and that a hot woman telling me how much she wants to interview me and how she’s obsessed with me will get me to talk to her. And even though I know it was BS, it still worked, so I’m going to be doing the interview.”

    He then repeatedly asked Stone whether he should “put her over my knee,” later adding he was talking about “putting her over my knee politically,” and said, “Can we put [the late model] Betty Page on screen please, putting a girl over her knee?” He said that those comments were “trolling” because “I can’t help it. I can say anything I want and it’s all over the news the next day.”

    Jones again made lewd comments about Kelly during his May 31 broadcast, saying, “Megyn Kelly’s coming next week. I want Kathy Griffin, me, and Megyn Kelly to oil wrestle next week on air.” Seconds later he said, “I’m just challenging Megyn Kelly and Kathy Griffin to a boxing match -- I’ll take both of them on,” explaining that he was trying to allude to comedian Andy Kaufman, who wrestled women.

  • Fake news purveyors boost Putin’s claims to dismiss allegations of Russian interference in 2016 election

    Fake news purveyors have regularly functioned as pro-Trump propaganda outlets

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fake news purveyors are citing Russian President Vladimir Putin to claim that, contrary to the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions, Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election.

    On June 4, NBC aired Putin’s interview with new host Megyn Kelly, in which he claimed he hadn’t seen “any direct proof of Russian interference in the presidential election.” He also suggested that American intelligence agencies could have fabricated evidence of hacking, saying, “There’s a theory that [President John F.] Kennedy’s assassination was arranged by the United States intelligence services.” Putin made similar remarks two days earlier during a panel discussion, which Kelly moderated, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, saying, “There is no specific evidence, no facts, just assumptions, allegations and conclusions based on those allegations nothing more.” However, U.S. intelligence agencies have all concluded “with high confidence” that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election to help President Donald Trump win, in part by hacking Democratic groups and individuals and by using bots to spread fake news and pro-Trump stories on social media.

    Fake news purveyors jumped on the interviews, praising Putin and calling the idea that Russia interfered in the election “a nonsensical theory” and “allegations that are continuously being spewed out of the mouths of the Left.” Others cited Putin to call the intelligence community’s conclusions, noted by Kelly in the interview, “absurd Russian hacking claims,” “stupid talking points,” a “clearly bogus narrative,” “Hillary Clinton campaign talking points,” and “a line of questioning that sounded as though it came straight out of the Democrat-media complex conspiracy handbook.”

    This praise for Putin’s remarks follows the repeated denial by these outlets -- which regularly function as pro-Trump propaganda outlets -- that there could be any connection between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Their framing of the issue is similar to reporting from Russian outlets RT and Sputnik, which simply parroted Putin’s highly dubious claims.