Television news personality Megyn Kelly’s much publicized interview program Sunday night on NBC was clearly a publicity stunt to maximize the network’s ratings. Her interview subject, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, clearly had his own agenda to broaden his audience of badly misinformed Americans who choose to believe nonsense over facts.
The interview promised to be a perfect storm of media irresponsibility. We were prepared to denounce Kelly and NBC for giving a platform to Jones, who ranks among the most abhorrent people on the planet.
Instead, Kelly stood her ground and showed Jones to be the paranoid clown that he is. She also proffered a serious justification for putting Jones in the hot seat before a national audience, offering lots of evidence that the most powerful person on the planet, President Donald Trump, is among Jones’ fans. With shocking regularity, when Jones spouts something unfounded and ridiculous, Trump repeats it.
Here’s how dangerous Jones is: He goes on his website, Infowars, spouting half-cocked theories about serious news events. His followers then react by threatening or attacking the subjects of Jones’ bogus reports.
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For example, in December 2014 Jones denounced as a hoax the 2012 massacre of 20 young schoolchildren and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. “The whole thing was a fake …,” he stated. “It just pretty much didn’t happen.” The “evidence” he cited was a doctored photograph posted on the internet.
A Florida professor, James Tracy, began badgering bereaved Sandy Hook parents, demanding that they provide proof of their children’s deaths. Another Florida resident, Lucy Richards, began sending death threats to another bereaved parent. She was sentenced two weeks ago to five months in prison.
Pressed by Kelly, Jones refused to apologize for the pain he caused those parents.
Jones also urged his viewers to act after asserting, without a shred of evidence, that a pizza restaurant in Washington was a front operation for a Democratic Party child sex ring. Inspired by Jones, a gunman opened fire on the restaurant in December.
Equally shocking is the level of trust that Trump places in Jones’ fictitious nonsense. Trump made a guest appearance on Jones’ show in December 2015. He thanked Jones after the election. Infowars received a temporary White House press pass last month.
And Trump’s still-active presidential campaign issued a press release earlier this month asserting that pro-Trump protesters outside the White House outnumbered opponents after he withdrew from the Paris climate change accord. It cited Infowars as its source.
Sadly, Trump is only one of millions of people who follow Jones around the world. That this blowhard hoaxer receives serious attention in the most powerful corners of the White House is the most frightening revelation of all.