A dozen relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre are urging NBC News to reconsider its plan to broadcast Megyn Kelly’s interview with firebrand conservative commentator Alex Jones on Sunday.
In a letter sent to network executives Thursday, attorneys Josh Koskoff and Katie Mesner-Hage argued that the interview with Jones, who has portrayed the Sandy Hook shooting as a hoax, will have “devastating human consequences.” The Bridgeport, Conn.-based law firm of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder has represented some family members of the 26 victims of the mass shooting at the Newtown elementary school in December 2012.
NBC News has come under fire since announcing its plan to feature Jones on its fledgling newsmagazine “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.” Jones, host of the Infowars digital channel, has claimed that the Sandy Hook tragedy was “synthetic, completely fake with actors,” and called it a “manufactured incident” designed to spur gun control legislation. Jones has raised his profile in the media world in the past few years with his extreme positions and assertions about left-wing conspiracies such as the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Earlier in the week, Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose daughter was among the victims, criticized the Jones interview on Twitter and urged NBC not to “encourage his abuse.” Other relatives of Sandy Hook victims have also voiced their opposition to the broadcast, and Kelly was dropped as a host of a gala fundraiser for a Sandy Hook organization.
The letter, obtained by Variety, was sent to NBC News chairman Andrew Lack, as well as David Corvo, the executive producer of “Sunday Night” and Kimberly D. Harris, the network’s general counsel. It was sent on behalf of 12 relatives of seven Sandy Hook victims.
“Airing Ms. Kelly’s interview implicitly endorses the notion that Mr. Jones’ lies are actually ‘claims’ that are worthy of serious debate; and in doing so it exponentially enhances the suffering and distress of our clients. For that NBC is responsible,” Koskoff and Mesner-Hage wrote. “We urge you to consider the ethical and legal ramifications of broadcasting this interview to millions of Americans. By now, it should be clear to NBC that airing the interview will cause serious emotional distress to dozens of Sandy Hook families. NBC – and NBC alone – has the power to prevent that harm.”
Kelly has defended the interview, saying it is her job as a journalist to “shine a light” on Jones’ falsehoods. Criticism of the decision to feature Jones on the show increased when photographs surfaced on social media of Kelly and Jones smiling together in casual settings.
Here’s the full letter sent to NBC:
June 15, 2017
Dear Ms. Harris, Mr. Lack and Mr. Corvo,
Our law firm represents several of the families who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. 1,644 days have passed since that terrible morning. Parents have marked their children’s seventh, eighth, and ninth birthdays not with wonder and joyful chaos, but with the most profound loneliness this world knows. Erica Lafferty walked through a graveyard in her wedding dress and veil so that she could feel close to her mother, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung – a woman who died trying to protect other parents’ children. Then there are all the other days; regular Thursdays like this one where a sound or a smell can transform the unrelenting ache of grief into intense, physical pain.
Surely, we can agree that these families have suffered enough already, and that they will continue to suffer enough to last several lifetimes. Which is why we cannot fathom – from a moral, ethical or legal standpoint – NBC’s decision to amplify the voice of a man who has made a living debasing that suffering and smearing our clients’ names. Over the last few years, Alex Jones has weaponized his radio show to publish false and defamatory statements about our clients: chief among them that they are actors perpetrating a massive fraud on the American public by faking the deaths of their loved ones.
NBC is not responsible for the harassment and abuse Alex Jones has cruelly visited on our clients. But, by choosing to air his interview with Ms. Kelly – at all, let alone at prime time on Father’s Day – NBC has tendered its good name and considerable influence to provide Mr. Jones with something he has never enjoyed: legitimacy. This decision may be driven by the simple urge to gain an edge in a well-publicized ratings war; but it has devastating human consequences as well. Airing Ms. Kelly’s interview implicitly endorses the notion that Mr. Jones’ lies are actually “claims” that are worthy of serious debate; and in doing so it exponentially enhances the suffering and distress of our clients. For that NBC is responsible.
We urge you to consider the ethical and legal ramifications of broadcasting this interview to millions of Americans. By now, it should be clear to NBC that airing the interview will cause serious emotional distress to dozens of Sandy Hook families. NBC – and NBC alone – has the power to prevent that harm.
Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, PC
On behalf of our clients:
Carlee Soto Parisi