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NBC Exec defends Megyn Kelly's Alex Jones interview

Posted June 12

When Megyn Kelly released the 90-second promo for her interview with controversial media figure Alex Jones, the pushback was immediate.

Relatives of people killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting -- which Jones has called "a hoax" -- sought to publicly shame Kelly via Twitter. Bill De Blasio, the mayor of New York, said the network should "pull the segment." And reports have surfaced that J.P. Morgan Chase asked NBC to pull its advertisements during the episode.

Nevertheless, NBC is planning to air the interview on Sunday, and the show's executive producer is asking viewers to withhold judgment until then.

"Until you see the full program, in the full context, I wouldn't judge it too much," Liz Cole, the executive producer of "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly," told CNNMoney. "Judge it when you see it. Megyn does a strong interview. We're not just giving him a platform."

"Giving him a platform would mean he goes unchallenged, and that's not the case in any way," Cole said. "Where is he getting these theories and this information?... Viewers will see Megyn do a strong interview where she challenges him appropriately... That's the benefit of putting him out there. When someone actually sits down and asks him questions and he has to come up with answers -- there's value to that."

Jones is certainly influential. His radio show reaches millions of listeners every day and his website, Infowars.com, had more than 5 million unique visitors in the month of April, according to Quantcast. Jones has also claimed, without protest from the White House, that President-elect Donald Trump called to thank him after the election.

To many people, Jones' views are not only baseless but reckless, offensive and downright weird. In addition to his claims about Sandy Hook, Jones also believes 9/11 was "an inside job" and that humans have been "creating animal-human hybrids" for the last 30 years -- all of which he says in his interview with Kelly.

"He's a controversial figure for sure," Cole said, "but as journalists it's our job to interview newsmakers and people of influence no matter how abhorrent their views may be."

Following the release of the promo, relatives of some the people killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting called on Kelly and NBC to pull the interview.

Nelba M-rquez-Greene, whose daughter was killed in the shooting, tweeted several photos of her daughter and wrote, "Here you go @megynkelly - her name is Ana Grace M-rquez-Greene. Say her name- stare at this & tell me it's worth it."

"This piece of actual garbage encourages people to call my mom's death a hoax and harass other Sandy Hook families," wrote Cristina Hassinger, the daughter of the school's principal. "Shame on you @megynkelly."

On Monday afternoon, Mayor De Blasio weighed in as well: "Trump may promote Alex Jones, but NBC News shouldn't give a platform to someone who claims 9/11 & Sandy Hook were hoaxes. Pull the segment."

Finally, on Monday night, The Wall Street Journal reported that J.P. Morgan Chase had decided to pull its advertisements from Kelly's show until after the segment aired. A representative from J.P. Morgan declined to comment.

Jones has also called on NBC to pull the interview, but for a different reason. On Monday, he claimed, without evidence, that NBC had used "deceptive editing" to make him look like a monster.

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