The price of media exposure

Alex Jones is discovering that no matter how big your microphone is, the collective microphone of the mainstream media that can be arrayed against you is even bigger:

Megyn Kelly presented a highly critical 19-minute piece on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on her NBC newsmagazine “Sunday Night” after a week of harsh criticism over the decision to present his views on network TV.

Jones is notorious for saying the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was staged to promote tougher gun control laws. Twenty-six people, including 20 children, died, making it the second-deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history at the time.

NBC News brought on its elder statesman Tom Brokaw to join Kelly at the end of the program to say the parents of the Newtown victims “should not have to hear the cruel claim that it’s a lie.” Brokaw’s appearance was clearly an attempt to assuage the Sandy Hook families who were outraged and even threatened legal action against NBC News.

Jones, a radio host who operates the right-wing website Infowars, repeated his theory in the interview. Kelly said he never disavowed his previous statements in their conversations and noted there was no evidence to back his claims.

Kelly interviewed Newtown parent Neil Heslin, who described the devastating loss of his son. “I think he’s blessed to have his children to spend the day with, to speak to,” Heslin said. “I don’t have that.”

Kelly did have several heated exchanges with Jones, who was sweating profusely during their sit-down. She opened by pressing him on why he called the victims of the terrorist bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, “liberal trendies” when many were pre-teen girls.

Jones tried to rationalize his statements in the interview but for the most part seemed frustrated by Kelly’s queries.

In a live-streamed video aired on his YouTube channel, Jones reacted angrily to the final taped “Sunday Night” piece as it aired. He lambasted Kelly and the mainstream media.

“This is a giant, evil misrepresentation,” he said. “They continue to misrepresent what I’ve said and what I’ve done.”

Still, he declared victory — popping a bottle of champagne and angrily vowing to keep up the fight against “globalism” and the lies covered up by the mainstream media.

On social media, reaction was mostly predictable.

Media colleagues and critics generally gave Kelly high marks for the toughness of the piece, which disputed nearly every theory Jones has promoted through Infowars.

Far-right commentators repeatedly called the interview a “hit piece.”

The rigor of the piece will likely take some of the sting out of critiques of Kelly, some of which suggested that her transition from Fox News to NBC News was off to a rocky start.

Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote on Twitter: “Bottom line on NBC’s Alex Jones piece: Strong editing gave it an edge & made him look like a kook. Still a win for him; boosts his profile.”

Jones, likely sensing that NBC was going to toughen up the segment, had already sought to undermine Kelly by leaking taped phone conversations in which she assured him it was not going to be “a hit piece.”

Now, it manifestly was a hit piece. The “far-right commentators” were correct. The Post columnist openly admits as much when she refers to “strong editing” giving the piece “an edge” and making Jones “look like a kook”. That is always the media’s objective when profiling or quoting a Narrative denier. Notice how the LA Times piece takes its own shots: “was sweating profusely”, “tried to rationalize”, “seemed frustrated”, “reacted angrily”, and so forth.

This is why the average individual should NEVER speak to the media. Jones did everything people customarily recommend – he recorded the interview, he recorded the requests for the interview, he released some of the recordings, and he showed Megyn Kelly to be a liar – and yet that didn’t prevent NBC from doing the usual hit piece or the rest of the media piling on and declaring it to be a triumphant expose of a kook.

Notice, too, the way in which the rest of the media is praising Kelly for disputing Jones’s statements. But did she request a debate or an interview with him? And what sort of honest debate format has ever permitted one disputant to edit the statements made by both sides?

Now, the additional exposure may be worth it to Jones. It’s too soon to say. Sometimes these calculated risks do work out, as Cernovich’s appearance on 60 Minutes observably did. But the average individual must understand that it is a risk, and that even those with sizable platforms such as Alex Jones and Mike Cernovich are playing underdog. And really, what is the benefit of proving, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Megyn Kelly is a liar? Is there anyone in America who didn’t already know that?