Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pushback Intensifies Over Megyn Kelly-Alex Jones Interview

As we reported Monday, NBC anchor Megyn Kelly’s plan to air an interview with right-wing provocateur/radio host/Infowars website Alex Jones has caused a firestorm to erupt on social media, but so far advertisers have remained quiet—with at least one notable exception.

According to The Wall Street Journal, J.P. Morgan Chase has asked for its local TV ads and digital ads to be removed from Ms. Kelly’s show and from all NBC news programming until after the show airs, according to a person familiar with the matter.  The company doesn’t want any of its ads to appear adjacent to any promotions for the interview, the person added.

NBC declined to comment.

On Monday, Kristin Lemkau, J.P. Morgan’s chief marketing officer, questioned why Ms. Kelly would conduct the interview. “As an advertiser, I’m repulsed that @megynkelly would give a second of airtime to someone who says Sandy Hook and Aurora are hoaxes,” she tweeted.

Ms. Kelly’s interview with Mr. Jones—the radio host, founder of the Infowars website and well-known conspiracy theorist who has previously called the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School a hoax—is scheduled to air Sunday on her NBC News magazine show, “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.” Ms. Kelly left Fox News earlier this year for NBC, where her new show will be airing only its third episode this coming Sunday.

The interview drew harsh criticism from the families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre on social media, with people using hashtags like #shameonNBC to express their outrage. The school shooting four and a half years ago left 20 children and six staffers dead.

On his radio program Monday, Mr. Jones said that he thinks Sandy Hook happened, or at least that children died, though there are anomalies about the event. However, he said that was edited from the NBC promotion. “I’m tired of being misrepresented,” Mr. Jones said. Mr. Jones demanded Ms. Kelly’s “hit piece” not air on Father’s Day.

NBC News declined to comment on Mr. Jones’ remarks.

 Among those criticizing the interview was Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose daughter Ana Grace was among the 20 first-graders killed at Sandy Hook. She said she's worried that giving Jones exposure will encourage his followers, who have harassed her and other Sandy Hook families. Also speaking out was the family of Victoria Soto, one of the six educators who were also killed. The family said on Facebook that the, quote, "incessant need for ratings at the cost of the emotional well-being of our family is disgusting and disappointing."

After taping the NBC interview, Jones turned around and criticized it on his show, saying that it is, quote, "fake news, in my view." He said that because the segment will be edited down from a day of interviews, he expects it to be "rigged."

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