NBC’s Megyn Kelly is under fire for her one-on-one interview with Infowars’s Alex Jones.
One of the immediate critics is a mother whose daughter was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, a massacre that Jones has dismissed as a government hoax.
Nelba Márquez-Greene saw the interview, scheduled to air Sunday — Father’s Day — as an “egregious offense” to fathers whose children were murdered Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Conn.
“To give Alex Jones a platform on Father’s Day is especially cruel to me,” she told The Washington Post.
Jones’s interview reignites a debate over whether interviewing polarizing figures on national television gives them a platform or places their controversial views under scrutiny.
A call to Kelly’s publicist was not returned, but in a tweet responding to criticisms Sunday night, the host said the media needed to “shine a light” on who Jones is, particularly because of the layer of legitimacy he’s receiving from the White House. Infowars was given a temporary press credential last month. President Trump, who has appeared on Infowars, once called Jones a “nice guy” and hinted that their mind-sets align.
Márquez-Greene said Kelly’s reasoning is misguided and would, instead, encourage Jones’s army of followers to “double down” on their effort to label the massacre of 20 elementary schoolchildren a hoax.
“Shining a light works on cockroaches,” she said. “It doesn’t work on Alex Jones.”
She added: “It’s just a reminder that we really haven’t found a way as a nation to really honor the loss. We really want to honor the loss, but we really don’t know how to do that. Because this is not the way.”
Efforts to reach Jones on Monday were unsuccessful. A message left to Infowars’s media hotline was not returned.
Márquez-Greene took to Twitter after she found out about the upcoming interview. She posted a picture of her daughter Saturday night and tagged Kelly in a tweet:
“Here you go @megynkelly — her name is Ana Grace Márquez-Greene. Say her name — stare at this & tell me it’s worth it. @nbc #SandyHook,” she wrote.
Márquez-Greene said her concerns weren’t necessarily over Jones but on “the people he inspires.”
Just last week, a Florida woman who claimed the mass shooting was a hoax and sent death threats to a parent whose 6-year-old son was killed was sentenced to five months in prison.
Márquez-Greene said her family frequently receives letters from hoaxers implying that the shooting is a government conspiracy, suggesting that actors had been involved and accusing them of making millions off an Obama-era hoax. Others tell her she should teach her son how to shoot. Márquez-Green said she found that most disturbing.
Márquez-Greene’s son was 8 when his sister, 6-year-old Ana Grace, was killed. She said she’s tried to keep the now-12-year-old boy away from social media, where he might learn of the conspiracy theories swirling around his sister’s death.
“It’s hard enough to deal with losing a sister in mass shooting. We are trying to protect him as much as we can,” she said. “He lives in a world where people don’t think his sister’s death is real. I’m not ready for him to know that yet.”
Others, like Chelsea Clinton and Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, also have weighed in:
In a preview of the interview, Kelly asked about the Sandy Hook massacre and his conspiracy theory that the shooting was a government hoax to push for tougher gun laws. In answering the question, Jones seems to offer differing views.
“Well, Sandy Hook’s complex because I’ve had debates where we devil’s advocates say the whole story’s true,” he said. “And then I’ve had debates where I’ve said none of it’s true.”
Kelly then went on to confront Jones, who seemed to move the conversation to other topics that he said the media failed to cover.
Kelly: When you say parents faked their children’s death, people get angry.
Jones: Oh, I know. But they don’t get angry about the half a million dead Iraqis from the sanctions. They don’t get angry about all the —
Kelly: That’s a dodge.
Jones: No, no, it’s not a dodge. The media never covers all the evil wars that’s promoted —
Kelly: That doesn’t excuse what you did and said about Newtown. You know it.
Jones: Here’s the difference. I looked at all the angles of Newtown, and I made statements long before the media even picked up on it. We didn’t really get into the really important stuff.
Kelly: What do you mean? We talked about all the important stuff.
Jones: Here’s the big one they always make fun of me. You probably want to throw this in there. Thirty years ago, they began creating animal-human hybrids. Isn’t that the big story that Megyn Kelly should be doing.
For Márquez-Greene, if Jones deserves a platform on national media, so do parents like her.
“If they’re going to do the interview, fine,” she said. “But then give us equal airtime to express how dismaying this is.”
She also said she wants to talk to Kelly, off or on the air, “mother to mother, woman to woman.”
“And just talk about the personal impact this has had on our family and many others,” she said.
The Jones interview is Kelly’s third since NBC launched “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” earlier this month. She’d interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin and “Dancing With the Stars” co-host and Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews.