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NBC News is sticking by its plan to air the controversial interview between Alex Jones and Megyn Kelly on Sunday night, even after Jones and his InfoWars publication leaked a private conversation between them in which Kelly assures him fair treatment and promises that the segment would not be a “hit piece.”
“Despite Alex Jones’ efforts to distract from and ultimately prevent the airing of our report, we remain committed to giving viewers context and insight into a controversial and polarizing figure, how he relates to the president of the United States and influences others, and to getting this serious story right,” said an NBC News spokesperson on Friday, after Jones leaked part of the interview on Thursday night and then a longer version on Friday morning.
In the Friday video, Jones told Kelly that Charlie Rose’s show and ABC’s The View want to tape segments with him. Asked about plans for an interview, an ABC spokeswoman said, “He was scheduled to appear next week to promote his book. They canceled on us and there are no plans to reschedule.” A PBS spokeswoman said there were never plans for Jones to appear on Charlie Rose.
NBC News’ decision to air the piece comes amid swirling backlash and outcry from the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting over the anchor’s sit-down with the controversial InfoWars host and Trump friend, who has pushed false conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and the Sandy Hook massacre. On Tuesday, an anti-gun violence organization founded by parents of children killed in the 2012 shooting dropped Kelly as host of an event in Washington. CNN chief Jeff Zucker added his name to the chorus of critics, saying the marketing for the televised sit-down has been “unfortunate.”
“I’ve never done this in 22 years, I’ve never recorded another journalist,” Jones said in a video posted to Twitter Thursday night, teasing the two-minute leak posted to his site. “I’ve never done this, but I knew that it was a fraud, that it was a lie.”
The host also called out the “mainstream media,” including The Hollywood Reporter, for its recent coverage. Jones claimed that his words were taken out of context and heavily edited in promo clips for the interview. “I got it all on tape, sweetheart,” he said during Thursday’s Infowars show. “I did it to protect myself so I can show what she really did.”
Jones and Infowars on Friday morning released a 30-minute video that more heavily blurbs his conversation with Kelly. In it, she expresses sympathy for him at several points, and says she agrees with his contention that the media unfairly covered his child custody hearing in April.
“The reason you are interesting to me is because I followed your custody case, and I think you had a very good point about the way the media was covering it,” she is heard saying. “And for some reason treated you and your family and what was going on as fair game when they never would have done that if you were a mainstream media figure. And I saw a different side of you. In that whole thing. You know you just became very fascinating to me.
“I just want to talk about you,” Kelly said. “I want people to get to know you. And the craziest thing of all would be if some of the people who have this insane version of you in their heads walk away saying, ‘You know what, I see like the dad in him. I see the guy who loves those kids and is more complex than I’ve been led to believe.'”
There’s nothing unusual or untoward about a journalist trying to sell an interview with a potential subject, but the leaked audio seems to lend some credence to those who have said that the interview, based on the promo released for it, is too fluffy and too deferential to Jones.
When asked at the beginning of the conversation by Jones if the interview would be “an investigative report into fake news,” Kelly responded, “Hello no.”
“This is your chance to tell people who you are,” Kelly said later in the conversation. “In the same way you’re talking about re-inventing yourself, me too in a way. I have not enjoyed being in any way on the pointy end of the political spear. You know, it was never anything I wanted to do.”
Kelly, who was heavily criticized by then-candidate Trump for asking in an August 2015 GOP debate about derogatory remarks he has made in the past about women, announced in January that she would leave her anchor position at Fox News.
The call between Jones and Kelly ended on a friendly note, with Jones saying, “I’ve always been a fan of yours until everything happened.” Kelly responded: “Until Trump. Well, he’s past it, hopefully you’ll get past it too.”
Kelly, on the call, gushed to Jones about her new employer — “You would not believe the number of resources they use over at NBC News” — and favorably compared broadcast news to cable television.
“They deeply care about this kind of thing,” Kelly said of NBC. “And it’s not that we didn’t care on cable, it’s just a different game on cable. You know, you move faster. And it’s more real-time. And you know, it’s just a fact that more mistakes get made.”
Jones, in the Friday video, said his entire interview with Kelly was recorded. “We have the interview taped so that we can document post-mortem how she edited, how she manipulated,” he said.
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