NBC News’ Megyn Kelly defended her interview with online radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones Sunday night, telling her audience that the “Infowars” host “isn’t going away.”
Kelly opened the third episode of her newsmagazine series by promising to confront Jones about his “notorious lie” that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre that killed 26 people in Newtown, Conn., was a hoax.
“Some thought we shouldn’t broadcast this interview because his baseless allegations aren’t just offensive, they’re dangerous,” Kelly said in introducing the 20-minute long segment. “But here’s the thing: Alex Jones isn’t going away.” She noted that President Donald Trump has praised Jones and appeared on his radio program.
Kelly’s voiceover described Jones’ claims that the killings in Newtown were hoaxes as “outrageous.” When she confronted Jones, the host initially said his statements were an attempt to play devil’s advocate.
“Was that devil’s advocate? The whole thing is a giant hoax? The whole thing was fake?” Kelly asked.
“Yes,” said Jones, who added he had watched footage of children evacuating the school on that day and “it looks like a drill.”
When Kelly tried to explain the anger that his stance caused, Jones cut her off.
“Oh, I know, but they don’t get angry about the half-million dead Iraqis from the [economic] sanctions [under Saddam Hussein] –“
“That’s a dodge,” Kelly interjected.
“No, it’s not a dodge,” Jones answered. “The media never covers all the evil wars it’s promoted –“
“That doesn’t excuse what you did and said about Newtown,” Kelly fired back. “You know it.”
Finally, Jones admitted, “I tend to believe that children probably did die there. But then, you look at all the other evidence on the other side, I can see how other people believe that nobody died there.”
“Of course, there is no evidence ‘on the other side,’” Kelly’s voiceover chimed in.
The segment with Jones combined Kelly's interview with background on his relationship with Trump and comments from Newtown parent Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, was killed in the shooting. When Kelly asked him whether he had anything to say to Jones for Father's Day, he responded, "I think he's blessed to have his children to spend the day with, to speak to. I don't have that."
Last week, Jones leaked an audio recording of what he said was a phone conversation with Kelly, heard promising she would not portray him as "some kind of boogeyman." Shortly before Sunday's night interview, Jones released a Father's Day video in which he offered condolences to families who had lost children in the "horrible tragedy" of Newton, but did not refer to his previous comments disputing the killings.
"Parents should never have to bury their own children," Jones said.
Kelly and NBC had been fiercely criticized for her decision to interview Jones. Connecticut’s statewide NBC owned-and-operated station declined to broadcast Sunday’s program, saying that the “wounds are understandably still so raw” in the state. Lawyers representing 12 people who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook shooting wrote to the network and asked them not to air the interview.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.