No sooner does the conservative anchor start at NBC then she gives a platform to the conspiracy theory-loving Sandy Hook truther ... on Father's Day. Is this where "journalism" is headed?
Megyn Kelly wants to shine a light on Alex Jones—on Father’s Day, no less. The man who called the Sandy Hook mass shooting a hoax.
Kelly has faced backlash (on Twitter at least) over NBC’s decision to air her interview on Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly with the host of Infowars—a conspiracy-theorist web show. In response to detractors Kelly posted this on June 11, 2017:
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) June 12, 2017
Kelly grounds NBC’s decision (and hers) to feature Jones as “our job” to shine a light on a man whose show the POTUS has praised. That job she mentions is one of journalists’, presumably. So as a journalist I would like to take a couple minutes to parse her statement.
First, POTUS has praised a whole lot of people: Kim Jong-un, Michael Flynn, James Comey and then not James Comey. And then, if I may step into the wayback machine, Trump also once praised Hillary Clinton. POTUS also retweeted the odds of his own impeachment by Geraldo Rivera, attacked the London mayor, and praised Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines who recently bragged about his troops raping women.
The yardstick for who this president praises shouldn’t be the measure of who NBC elevates.
Second, Kelly states “He’s giving Infowars a WH press credential” to buttress her belief she needs to shine a light on Jones. But, a ten-second Google search proves that false.
This from a May 22, 2017 article from The Hill highlighting clarifications from two really credentialed WH reporters; Mike Warren is a senior reporter for The Weekly Standard, and Trey Yingst from conservative outlet One News Network:
The article goes on:
“He is not credentialed for the White House. The White House Press Office has not offered him credentials,” White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in January upon being asked about Jones’s claim.
Apparently all we have then is Alex Jones’s word that he is getting credentialed. Here is all anyone ever needs to know about Jones’s word. Not only did he believe the massacre of school children at Sandy Hook was a hoax, but perpetuates this as a conspiracy theory so that his followers believe it too, and torment the Sandy Hook community, including the parents who lost their chidren in the mass shooting. Here are a few other Jones statements pulled from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Extremist Files”:
SPLC goes on to encapsulate Jones perfectly:
The way Jones sees it, shadowy groups within the U.S. government orchestrated—or at least refrained from preventing—the 9/11 attacks, the Boston Marathon massacre, the bombing of Oklahoma City’s Murrah federal building, and the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. He has even suggested that President Obama was responsible for the 2013 Oklahoma tornado outbreak. When Jared Lee Loughner went on his January 2011 rampage in Tucson, killing six people and severely wounding U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), Jones told Rolling Stone: “This whole thing stinks to high heaven. … My gut tells me this was a staged mind-control operation. The government employs geometric psychological-warfare experts that know exactly how to indirectly manipulate unstable people through the media.”
Kelly’s assertion that many don’t know him is probably true. He only has around 600,000 followers on Twitter (though that number will likely jump post NBC interview). And even though that may be true it is irrelevant. In fact, it is actually a good thing.
Shining a light? Honestly, Kelly missed the boat on that one. Jones has been outed, debunked, marginalized, and ridiculed into relative silence. And anyway, according to Jones’s divorce lawyer the Alex Jones on Infowars is just a persona, a character:
At a recent pretrial hearing, attorney Randall Wilhite told state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo that using his client Alex Jones’s on-air Infowars persona to evaluate Alex Jones as a father would be like judging Jack Nicholson in a custody dispute based on his performance as the Joker in Batman.
Importantly, Kelly Jones, the soon-to be ex-wife of Alex, told a Texas judge, “He’s not a stable person.” She was speaking of the man with whom her 14-year-old son and 9- and 12-year-old daughters have lived since her 2015 divorce. “He says he wants to break Alec Baldwin’s neck. He wants J-Lo to get raped … I’m concerned that he is engaged in felonious behavior, threatening a member of Congress,” she said, referring to his recent comments about California Democrat Adam Schiff. “He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching him broadcast.”
The children are there watching his broadcast.
With “children” in mind remember this: Sunday July 18, the parents of the brutally murdered children of Sandy Hook, and the families of the adults who died trying to protect them, will know Jones who denies their unimaginable pain will be front and center with Megyn Kelly.
This is not journalism. Shannon Watts founder of Moms Demand Action group working to end gun violence makes this painfully, honestly clear:
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) June 12, 2017
It’s not just about the stories. Journalism is also about who is telling them.
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