Megyn Kelly and NBC, the network that lured her away from Fox News with a lucrative contract offer, had a lot riding on her Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly interview with provocateur Alex Jones. After a week of public pressure and pre-emptive outrage against Kelly’s show for what many feared would be a soft interview with Jones, the main event felt a bit subdued, even anti-climactic.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck wrote that Kelly “managed to make Jones look like the lunatic he is,” but that the segment ultimately should have been tougher.
On Twitter, the segment drew praise from across the media industry.
“#Megyn Kelly did more to expose the real Alex Jones and than anyone else on TV,” wrote NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, calling the segment “solid journalism.”
“As always, @megynkelly’s journalistic bonafides on display with Jones interview,” wrote Steve Krakauer, formerly of TheBlaze and CNN. “A brilliant expose of a dangerously powerful media troll.”
While some questioned whether the segment was simply going to be an advertisement for Jones and his right-leaning InfoWars publication, Mediaite founder Dan Abrams said it proved to be a vital piece of journalism. “Watching @megynkelly interview with Alex Jones, I’m even more convinced that her piece wasn’t just ok to do, but important journalism,” he wrote.
Although the interview was eagerly anticipated by media industry chroniclers and journalists, some on Twitter pointed out that the controversy might have completely eluded the intended audience of the piece. “This intvw was always supposed to be 4 ppl who didn’t know/barely knew who Jones was,” wrote BuzzFeed‘s Charlie Warzel. “For those ppl, they saw a sweaty conspiracy theorist.”
Matthew Gertz, a senior fellow at the left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters, called the interview “adequate” and said that it was a good example of the power of public pressure. Sandy Hook Promise, an organization founded by parents of children killed in the December 2012 school shooting, wrote a letter to NBC News chairman Andy Lack asking for NBC to not broadcast the segment. A spokeswoman for the organization told THR that it would not make a statement following the show.
“The segment benefited from devoting very little time to Kelly’s interview with Jones, minimizing his opportunity to appeal to her audience,” Gertz wrote in a blog post.
Gertz pointed out that Kelly and NBC have had difficulty controlling the narrative leading up to the episode, allowing Jones, a master media strategist, to put the network on the defensive.
On Thursday, Page Six reported that NBC “completely overhauled” the segment to make it “tougher” on Jones. On Sunday night, some pointed out that viewers will never be able to know how the piece evolved and what it might have looked like had the backlash of the last few days never happened.
Jones, for his part, is still pressuring the network to release a full, uncut version of his interview with Kelly, using as leverage a threat to release his own taped version of the interview.