Megyn Kelly Vs. Alex Jones: 3.5 Million Watched

Megyn Kelly

Megyn Kelly

NBC's Megyn Kelly defended her heavily criticized interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones by saying at the start of the Sunday broadcast of her program that the man who called a 2012 CT school massacre a hoax has the attention of President Donald Trump.

The sitdown created a firestorm in the week leading up to its broadcast, as many criticized Kelly and her new employer for giving the Infowars host a platform to peddle his conspiracy theories, claims Kelly wasted no time at the top of the show in calling them "baseless allegations [that] aren't just offensive, they're unsafe".

The Infowars host said at one point that he was playing "devil's advocate" in denying the 2012 mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. But the network resisted, with Kelly explaining that, in her words, the "incendiary radio host" isn't going away. Her first episode was an inane interview of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The segment lasted about 17 minutes. In an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press, NBC Connecticut staff members were told station executives made the decision after listening to concerns from employees, Sandy Hook families and viewers and considering "the deep emotions from the wounds of that day that have yet to heal".

Mindful of the blowback, NBC made what was surely a tactical maneuver by enlisting the gravitas of Tom Brokaw to share thoughts about "hate speech" in the digital age. "We can not allow the agents of hate to go unchallenged and become the imprint of our time", he said.

The third episode of Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly drew a 0.7 rating in the key news demo (25-54) and an average of 3.53 million viewers, according to the Hollywood Reporter. And when he did, Jones rambled, blaming the media for distorting his theories while never completely disavowing them.

Critics were divided on the interview. When Kelly asked him if he had anything to say to Jones for Father's Day, when the interview aired, he responded, "I think he's blessed to have his children to spend the day with, to speak to". Jones, meanwhile, did all he could to taint the piece in advance, surreptitiously taping their conversations and releasing them prior to the broadcast.

Variety was even less enthusiastic, calling it pointless.

But after the interview ran, it scored mostly positive reviews.

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