Megyn Kelly Fails to Find the Story With Superficial Alex Jones Interview (Column)

Megyn Kelly
Courtesy of NBC

Kelly isn't a pushover, and proves that Jones is newsworthy because of his connections to President Trump. But that's it

Megyn Kelly’s interview with Alex Jones was much less interesting than the conversation that led up to the broadcast.

The past week has been a tumultuous one for NBC News’ new star. Kelly is attempting to make an impression with NBC’s audience this summer in advance of the September debut of her 9 a.m. morning show. Jones, the founder and chief mouthpiece of the Infowars radio program and online channel, is an unstable right-wing provocateur who may be most notorious for his steadfast insistence that the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting was a hoax. His attention-getting assertion has convinced enough others that the bereaved parents have received death threats from angry Infowars viewers. This, in turn, has so horrified many Americans that Jones’ appearance on “Sunday Night” prompted outcry: In addition to a heated conversation about the role of journalism and freedom of speech, JP Morgan Chase withdrew its advertising, and the NBC-owned station in Connecticut opted not to broadcast the interview. Jones, in response, took matters into his own hands — distancing himself from the interview and leaking his recording of one of his conversations with Kelly.

Entirely on its own — aside from Jones’ prevarication, the chummy behind-the-scenes photos of Jones and Kelly that surfaced, the multiple third-party opinions on the topic, and the leaked audio — “Sunday Night’s” segment on Jones is mostly notable for how empty it is. The interview portion, where Kelly is actually sitting opposite Jones, is minimal — perhaps just a few minutes of footage when pieced all together. Being a good television interviewer requires not just the courage of presenting interviewees with uncomfortable facts — courage that, to her credit, Kelly has in spades — but also the ability to establish a rapport with the subject in order to engage in conversation. Jones is a disjointed personality who sees the world as an interlocking set of media-fueled conspiracy theories; trying to have a fact-based conversation with him on any one topic is nearly impossible. Certainly Kelly was not especially skilled at it. Which made it all the more perplexing that she thought Jones would be a good subject for her new show.

The one strong takeaway from the entire segment was that Jones is newsworthy and dangerous because he has the ear of our volatile president. The segment starts with that sentiment, and then proceeds to enumerate various situations in which Jones is a concerning public figure (including an interview with Neil Heslin, who lost his son in the Sandy Hook tragedy). Then it ends. To be sure, Kelly is right to observe that the connection is worth investigating. But the “Sunday Night” segment doesn’t seem like investigating; it’s instead a wind-up to a punch with no subsequent impact.

“Sunday Night” could have focused on the sources of Jones’ Sandy Hook theories, or Jones’ connection to Trump, or Jones’ popularity within certain circles. It could have tried to profile Jones to discover more about his pot-stirring rhetoric — or enumerate the instances in which he is connected to Donald Trump. Those are angles. This segment doesn’t have an angle. It doesn’t have an iota of new information about Jones. Instead it ticks off the existing controversies that surround him, and then hits a wall. Kelly does not manage to make the segment into a story because she has no story.

Because of the advance backlash, it seems likely that the segment was edited to indicate as firmly as possible Kelly’s condemnation of Jones’ outrageous statements. That may explain why the interview portion that aired seems so stilted; the exchanges that aired emphasize Kelly trying to get him to disavow his past statements. They appeared to be carefully extracted out of broader conversation.

The decision to go after Jones actually put the spotlight on the fact that Kelly, despite the reputation she built at Fox News, is not a great interviewer. She also struggled during her much-hyped sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin on “Sunday Night’s” debut a few weeks ago. Her talent is less about extracting information from intriguing people and more attuned to leading the audience to a sense of vague unease about her subjects. As evidenced by the segment that immediately followed Jones’ — a pearl-clutching take on the phenomenon of (legal) delivery services for (legal) marijuana — Kelly’s primary mode is manufacturing and expressing concern, without much thought as to where that concern comes from and why it matters. That reluctance to dig deeper is what doomed the Jones segment. It is hard to not feel that Kelly has just emboldened Jones — an ideologue who will use any angle to advance his pernicious narrative.

For all the build-up, the segment ultimately revealed more about Kelly’s weaknesses as an anchor in the “60 Minutes” mold than it did about Jones.

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  1. Daniel says:

    Aka, she didn’t push the narrative as much as the big-wigs wanted.

  2. Dean Fuller says:

    But he hasn’t steadfastly insisted that Sandy Hook was hoax. At worst he has said: it’s unlikely, but possible, it was a hoax.

  3. Jane says:

    She was extremely subdued and cowed- especially compared to the show-offy manner in which she operated on Fox. She seems to be all about image but she now lacks self confidence. Don’t think the future looks good for her

  4. MegynKelly says:

    nothing more than a sloppy attempt at a hit piece. Megyn kelly is a snake and a puppet to her corporate media owners. Had a script the entire time and admits in the interview itself that all her BS MSM shows are scripted unlike Jones’ (as if that is some sort of insult to him). Enjoy having your ratings continuing to fall down the drain where they belong.

  5. cadavra says:

    It’s easy to be a “good interviewer” when your guests are in complete agreement with you. But out here in the real world, where your audience isn’t a mob of brainwashed zombies, it’s a lot more difficult to make that stick.

  6. James Brigham (Bigg) Bunyon says:

    Megyn Kelly was fine when she knew her place.

  7. DC says:

    MEGYN KELLY FAILS! You can stop the headline right there. NBC was a fool to hire this propagandist pretending to be a journalist. NBC lost a lot of credibility by hiring this shill. Hopefully they will fire her very publicly and bring in a real journalist to replace her.

  8. In complete agreement. She was so weak. It did nothing to stop his abuses or to shine light on them. It just made her seem feeble.

    • MegynKelly says:

      so obvious with the edits. Some things/answers didn’t even make sense in an attempt to make her guest seem completely dellusional. Just look for the unedited version coming out to see how much a of a corporate snake this woman really is.

  9. jcgc50 says:

    I’m wondering why Jones hasn’t been prosecuted for some the lies he has spread which have caused, if not violence, then the threat of it? The Supreme Court has stated in the past that dangerous speech is not protected speech.

    • furtive says:

      You are the delusional one not jones. If you are born american, you need a remedial class in civics.

    • liberal media says:

      Another hit piece. Liberal media is such a joke these days. Alex Jones is not “best known for Sandy Hook” there are plenty of people questioning it. Blaming death threats on Jones is another baseless attack. All these liberal outlets show such a stunning lack of intellect, every piece just ends up being a one sided bash story. For instance, thanks for introducing Jones as “an unstable right-wing provocateur”, obviously just the author’s point of view, and like most liberals, a baseless character assault. I don’t even know why I waste my time with these publications, or even commenting in the sewers that they pass as the “thread”. Liberals will do whatever they can to demonize those they don’t like or agree with and have the audacity to claim that they don’t need to do the research because they know better. They don’t. GMO and pill popping zombies who we conservatives simply shake our heads at. Slaves. Have fun in la-la land

  10. Shelli18 says:

    I have watched Fox for years and Megyn Kelly was never loved by Fox fans. She was an arrogant, egotistical, classless commentator. She only looks to try to do the sensational and never with any feelings as to who it will affect as long as she gets her two minutes of fame. She is an abomination.

  11. Dean says:

    This piece precisely identifies the reason Kelly was good at Fox News during the Obama Administration. “Something strange is going on here, and you should be afraid. We can’t give you a good reason why, you just should be afraid.” Scaring old white people who are quick to feel uneasy is not difficult, so Kelly was up to the task (not to mention, she is a blond with nice legs, so she fit Fox News’ qualification requirements). Now that she actually has to do the job like a journalist, the results may not be pretty.

  12. Overwhelmed By Your Derpitude says:

    Sad, stupid Trumpers and conspiracy theorists abound.

    Hurts to hear them try to make a logical argument when they have no logic. “MisInfoWars” is more like it.

    • Britney T. says:

      Sad, stupid liberals with zero facts and loads of emotion, always have to resort to insults when they don’t know how to intelligently present their beliefs because they simply can’t.

  13. e says:

    Megyn Kelly claims that she wants the whole Mr. Trump saga to be over with, but yet in her first interview she includes Mr. Trump in her entire Alex Jones interview. Was she interviewing Alex Jones or Mr. Trump?

    Lets be real… She uses Mr. Trump for ratings. Period!

    Mrs. Kelly… If you want the Mr. Trump saga to be over with STOP TALKING ABOUT IT!

  14. Jason Appleton says:

    Jones is dangerous – dangerous to the new world order, dangerous to authoritarianism.

  15. Jason Appleton says:

    Fake news channel NBC interviews truth warrior Alex Jones and falls flat on it’s face. Infowars.com.

    • Britney T. says:

      Agree 100%

    • Dunstan says:

      Alex Jones is no one’s idea of a “warrior.” That terms is best left to those who serve us, whether it’s the military or our police and fire personnel.

      Alex Jones is a corpulent turd. Attempting to convince any rational person that the Sandy Hook slaughter of elementary school kids and their teachers was a hoax shows how desperate and dangerous he is.

  16. Judi says:

    Megyn should be ashamed of herself. She was good when she first came to Fox, now she is just a nobody that makes some really poor decision along with the infamous NBC. She ruined herself when she angered people with her debate with our now President. I feel so sorry for the people of Sandy Hook. Her show is a flop and she is a FLOP.

  17. George Lewis says:

    QUESTIONS:
    Is Megyn’s hair white under her wig?
    Is NBC negotiating a big ad buy in The National Enquirer to draw their readers to Kelly’s flopping show?
    Does Megyn play with a fidget spinner on air using her toes? What brand is it?

  18. John Guy says:

    Ms. Kelly should not worry about Mr. Jones, you should being doing a story on why 99% of western continental Europe has rejected, banned, or stopped fluoridation due to environmental, health, legal, or ethical concerns. Why does the American dental Association insisted that our children consume this poison? Alex Jones does not need her help.

  19. TRVTH says:

    The questions Megyn Kelly ask Alex Jones, were more hard hitting then the softball questions Hillary Clinton got from the mainstream (left wing) press.

  20. geri313 says:

    What was NBC thinking? We do not need to dumb down journalism, ESPECIALLY in 2017. And devoting even one minute to this charlatan is unforgivable.

  21. LouAZ says:

    Great old Rock N Roll song by Billy Preston- Nothing from Nothing leaves Nothing.
    Jones is nothing without someone giving him a voice. Kelly has now done so. We have reduced ourselves to believing such drivel is now normal. No wonder so many wander.

  22. Jon Schearer says:

    This is one of the first Vanity Fair articles in some time that measures up to the magazines past. For the last year I have shuddered when I read anything from this publication……I had an odd image of Christopher Hitchens throwing things at the wall in the afterlife. Good job on this one.

  23. Mathius M. Gertz says:

    It should have been clear from her Putin interview where Kelly was led around like a piggy with a ring in its nose that she doesn’t have what it takes for this kind of journalism. The Jones interview just confirms it. In Kelly, NBC has backed the wrong horse. She is not the next Barbara Walters. Not even close.

  24. Daniel Washington says:

    I don’t agree with Alex on everything, but I do know that most media outlets try to make him look like a lunatic by taking what he says out of context and edit it in a way that displays a false image of him. some people call Alex crazy but the man has done a TON of reading and actually does do a good job sometimes when exposing the occult

    • Britney T. says:

      Agree with you 100%…of course it’s all of the liberals defending the MSM! I love how Variety describes Jones as unstable, disjointed personality….I am laughing at the palpable bias on here, by Variety and the commenters. Cannot never take the left seriously now, they have no problem twisting and manipulating the truth to suit their agenda, they base their politics on emotion and zero fact. The truth in mainstream media is dead and burried.

      • Britney T. says:

        My bad, should have been: CAN not ever (not cannot) Bye, liberals, continue to live in your la la land where your opinions are truth, and bigotry and intolarence abounds. If I had a nickel for every time a liberal used “Old, white men”….They are insulting my grandparents, my father, my uncles, cousins, friends, but they could care less as it’s okay in their book to hate old, white men. So much hate and intolerance from the left it’s frightening.

    • Erin says:

      Once again, people need to stop blaming the media for causing their own self-inflicted idiocy. Um, you do know that MSM coul take Alex Jones “out of context” everyday for eternity but, unfortunately, we know how to use YouTube.

      Which means we can decipher, in 100% complete disgusting context, his idiocy straight from his own mouth.

    • LouAZ says:

      So an ax murder is OK is he really uses a sharp ax ? BS !

      • Tonka says:

        Hey Erin.

        Is that how it goes in your world? All pain experienced by others has to be self-inflicted?

        Now you sound more like Jones than Jones does.

        Thumbs up, kid. Good one.

  25. Arthur Radley says:

    Megyn had her chance to be like Murrow with McCarthy. Instead she was more like Geraldo with Capone’s safe.

  26. K.D. says:

    Great review! To quote Don Hewitt’s mantra: Tell me a Story.”
    I’m curious too, if they handcuffed themselves due to the 3-segment format. If a piece has that kind of potential, give it the warranted minutes. Not giving Kelly the benefit of the doubt, but they need some much better producing talent.

  27. PAMELA HEALY says:

    I BELIEVE MEGYN KELLY DID AN OUTSTANDING INTERVIEW, ESPECIALLY WITH ALAN JONES [NUT CASE].

  28. C.H. says:

    “Her talent is less about extracting information from intriguing people and more attuned to leading the audience to a sense of vague unease about her subjects.”

    No surprise there.

  29. A. Brophy says:

    Great analysis.

    The whole interview seemed pointless and bereft of any coherent focus. It was a disorganized mess whose sole intent seemed to be ratings based on controversy.

  30. Del Mar Weber says:

    Great editorial – most of all because you list specifically the kinds of angles that an actual investigative journalist would pursue. Megyn is not an investigative journalist, and thus will not be able to produce anything approaching a classic 60 minutes piece – which as you ably demonstrate is what this subject required and which, if she had the ability, could have been an important contribution to the critique of Trump and his minions.

  31. cowgirldiva says:

    Sandy Hook should be allowed to RIP..!! Stop putting the poor parents through more unspeakable grief by revisiting the crime scene in this way…!! This so-called interview was not meant as a “healing” piece, it was meant as a “look what a nut job” this Alex guy is…! Well, it’s not up to Megyn Kelly to point out to us positive or negative character traits of people she considers “nut jobs”….! We can decide those things for ourselves..!!

    A HEALING piece on Sandy Hook would have been much more appropriate. But, people like Megyn Kelly (and there are million of them out there) don’t care about healing anything, they just care about stirring an already boiling over pot of HATE. Get rid of her…!!

  32. preferred user says:

    errr..Ms Plutohead !

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