NBC has decided to push past backlash and advertising losses to air Megyn Kelly’s controversial interview with Alex Jones.
On Tuesday, the network announced it would not let explosive reaction to Kelly’s interview with the conspiracy theorist and radio host stop it from airing it and other “controversial stories” in the future, Fox News reported.
“That comes with the territory,” NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said. “It’s not unusual. We kind of know when we’re doing controversial stories, that’s going to happen. It doesn’t stop us from doing controversial stories.”
— Tom Benson (@Tombenson1) June 14, 2017
And controversy is putting it lightly.
“It’s a s – – t show,” network insiders told Page Six, describing panicked staff meetings on Monday. “No one wants to withstand a whole week of criticism over this. There are a number of people who want to pull the interview.”
A major part of the backlash has been from Sandy Hook parents and families affected by the 2012 massacre that left 26 people, including 20 children, dead. Jones angered many with his question on whether the attack at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school was a hoax.
In his comments about moving forward with airing the interview, Lack promised the story would be edited sensitively, with the criticisms in mind, according to Fox News.
“It’s important to get it right,” he said, while Jones, claiming the interview was unfair to him, demanded the network pull the episode.
Financial firm JPMorganChase was one of the companies known to have pulled its advertisements from the “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” episode featuring the interview with Jones, the host of “Infowars.”
— Kristin Lemkau (@KLemkau) June 12, 2017
It was not clear which other companies had followed suit, as Kelly’s new show since moving over to the network from Fox News Channel showed disappointing ratings with its second episode.
“No one expected sponsors to pull out, but this is why they hired Megyn,” sources told Page Six. “They expect to lose and gain viewers and they want the buzz.”
Kelly was also pulled from hosting a charity event held in honor of the Sandy Hook victims, a move she said she understood even though she was “disappointed.” She also offended conservatives when she teased the upcoming episode with a note about Jones as a “conservative radio host.”
While the criticisms continued to unfurl, Kelly defended her interview with the controversial Jones, claiming neither she nor NBC were “elevating” him in any way or giving him a platform.
“What I think we’re doing is journalism,” she said Tuesday, according to FoxNews.
“The bottom line is that while it’s not always popular, it’s important,” Kelly added. “I would submit to you that neither I nor NBC News has elevated Alex Jones in any way. He’s been elevated by 5 or 6 million viewers or listeners, and by the president of the United States. As you know, journalists don’t get the choice over who has power or influence in our country.”
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