The question on everyone’s mind leading up to Sunday’s episode of Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly was whether the show could offer an informative take on the cultural phenomenon that is Alex Jones, or whether it would simply provide another platform for his incendiary — and false — viewpoints. The answer turned out to be the latter, but it was thanks to some careful reporting.
Jones claimed to have spent 13 hours filming with Kelly in New York, but what could have been a raw tête-à-tête between the two media personalities was actually turned out to be more of a character profile on Jones and his conspiracy empire. What we saw was a considerably watered down version of what was contentiously previewed on NBC last week. Gone were the conversations about how 9/11 was an inside job and the creation of animal-human hybrids.
It was an interesting move on the part of NBC and Kelly’s show — in a way allowing them to analyze Jones without actually letting him go nuts on air. On one hand, it avoids any accusation that Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly is providing Jones even more air time for what by some would be considered hate speech. On the other hand, he had less of a chance to dig his own grave. But there was still Sandy Hook.
The most intense part of the segment comes when Kelly tries — somewhat in vein — to get a clear answer from the InfoWars host about his claims that the Sandy Hook massacre was faked. The mood is noticeably tense, as he dances around the issue and claims he was always playing devil’s advocate. It’s pretty hard to take as Kelly reads through a string of Jones’ comments on the shooting, repeatedly claiming it was a hoax. Mostly, he gives roundabout answers, but at one point he does admit that video footage following the shooting caused him to have doubts about its legitimacy.
“At that point, and I do think there’s been some cover up and some manipulation, that was pretty much what I believed,” Jones says. “But then I was also going as devil’s advocate, but then, we know that there are mass shootings and these things happen.”
“But you’re trying to have it all ways,” says Kelly.
“No, I’m not,” Jones responds.
Clearly mortified, Kelly responds: “All the parents decide to come out and lie about their dead children? What happened to the children?”
“I will sit there on the air and look at every position and play devil’s advocate,” he says.
Adding to the show’s tone was the choice to include an interview with a father of one of the students killed at Sandy Hook. It was a last minute decision by Sunday Night to include the interview in an attempt to provide some context on the implications Jones’ comments. Since InfoWars coverage of the Sandy Hook shooting, parents of the victims have been harassed by fans of the show.
Even before Sunday’s episode aired, the events leading up to it can only be described as total chaos. After the preview aired last Sunday, in which Jones is seen standing by his notorious claims about Sandy Hook, sponsors began to pull out and the parents of Sandy Hook victims threatened to sue NBC if the episode went to air. On Thursday it was reported that following the backlash, the episode had been given a complete overhaul, and recut to be tougher on Jones.
On Saturday NBC affiliate station WVIT in Connecticut said they would not air the interview, stating in an internal memo that the wounds caused by the Sandy Hook tragedy are “understandably still so raw.” The station did however plan to include a report on the episode during its 11 p.m. broadcast Sunday.
On Saturday evening, Jones published a 15 minute long post on Periscope claiming to have over eight hours of audio of the entire day of shooting with Kelly that he believes will paint his interview in a different light. Saying he believes Kelly is out to make him look bad, he threatened to release his recordings if NBC wouldn’t release the full tape of their interview. He also backtracked again on his previous comments, saying he believed that Sandy Hook did happen, but “I just think there were some PR firms involved exacerbating tensions and blaming the second amendment, and that’s not right. So let’s come together.”
Whether or not the aired version of Kelly’s interview will garner retaliation from Jones is yet to be seen. You can watch the full segment here.