NBC still hasn’t found any easy way out of the pickle it got into with Megyn Kelly’s interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The Infowars founder is one of the most visible proponents of the theory that the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting is a hoax. While the network hasn’t yanked the interview yet—even though it’s losing advertisers—Sandy Hook parents are threatening to sue, Jones is threatening to release his own cut of the interview, and there’s apparently a leaked version already floating around the internet. But the NBC-owned Newtown station WVIT has taken an official position on the matter and will not be airing the interview out of consideration for the families whose children died in the massacre.
Since Jones began peddling the hoax narrative, Sandy Hook parents have been put through the emotional ringer. He’s accused them of being government-paid actors performing their grief for the benefit of a gun control conspiracy. As the hoax gained more believers, grieving Sandy Hook parents have received death threats and wild accusations of selling their children into trafficking rings to hide the truth that they are actually alive. Mother Nelba Márquez-Greene, whose daughter Ana Grace was one of the children killed, has blasted Megyn Kelly for giving Jones’ a broader platform, and has tried to express on Twitter the toll the conspiracy theory has taken on parents already coping with an unimaginable loss.
WVIT took the community’s pain into account when it decided not to air the interview regardless of parent company NBC’s decision on other regional, state, and national channels. In an internal memo, WVIT leadership stated: “Over the last few days, we have listened intently to Sandy Hook parents, our viewers and importantly, to you. We have considered the deep emotions from the wounds of that day that have yet to heal. Because those wounds are understandably still so raw, we have decided not to air this week’s episode of Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly.”
NBC and Kelly both acknowledge that Jones’ hoax and its results are grotesque, but they are still counting on the controversy generated by the interview. Indeed, NBC knew when they picked Megyn Kelly up following her departure from Fox News that this type of story, and its attendant drama, is part of the package, and Kelly’s appeal. NBC News chairman Andy Lack told Brian Stelter, “This comes with the territory. We kind of know, when we’re doing controversial stories, that’s going to happen. It doesn’t stop us from doing controversial stories.”