Only two episodes of Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly have aired since the former Fox News personality officially kicked off her tenure at NBC, but an upcoming interview with noted conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is already drawing fierce criticism. The families of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims are especially unhappy since Jones, who offered a rare apology for spreading the Pizzagate conspiracy, still casts doubt on whether or not the horrific 2012 incident ever occurred. As a result, advertisers are reportedly pulling out in droves from Sunday Night, causing NBC executives to panic.
According to Page Six, insiders at the network claim Kelly’s staffers and other personnel affiliated with the production were freaking out about the unaired Jones interview’s negative press. “It’s a sh*t show,” noted an anonymous source. “No one wants to withstand a whole week of criticism over this. There are a number of people who want to pull the interview.” Another source, however, suggested Kelly’s handlers at NBC aren’t too surprised by the controversy, or the advertisers who’ve decided to yank their commercials: “This is why they hired Megyn. They expect to lose and gain viewers and they want the buzz.”
Despite the New York Post-affiliated outlet’s gossipy reputation, their reporting on all things Kelly has been fairly accurate. They revealed her first major Sunday Night interview would be with Russian President Vladimir Putin (which is what happened), and that her debut would occur in June (which also happened). What’s more, a CNN report mere hours before Page Six‘s article included official comments from NBC News chairman Andy Lack, who signaled the network knew hiring Kelly would ultimately produce controversy.
“This comes with the territory,” he told Brian Stelter. “We kind of know, when we’re doing controversial stories, that’s going to happen. It doesn’t stop us from doing controversial stories.” Lack went on to explain that, while most of the advertisers who decide to pull out were “on the local level,” he knew “they’ll all be coming back” because “they’ve been clear about that” in their negotiations with NBC-owned stations across the country. Sure enough, as the Wall Street Journal reported, one of the advertisers — J.P. Morgan Chase — pulled all “all NBC news programming until after the show airs.”