Alex Jones Scoops Megyn Kelly And Proves The Media Isn’t Ready For The Trolls – BuzzFeed News
Thursday evening, Alex Jones dropped a bomb on Twitter. After a week of roiling controversy surrounding the conspiracy theorist’s upcoming interview with Megyn Kelly, Jones announced a plan to take the interview into his own hands and scoop NBC. He’d been secretly recording Kelly’s day-long interview and was going to release the tapes in full on his own website three days before the primetime airing.
“I’ve never done this…in 22 years I’ve never recorded another journalist but I knew this was a lie,” Jones said in the teaser, which featured the voice of a woman who sounded like Megyn Kelly assuring Jones he’d be getting a fair interview.
“The next time I want to get somebody, they’re going to say, ‘Look what you did to Alex Jones,’” the voice purported to be Kelly said. “It’s not going to be some gotcha hit piece, I promise you that.”
The trailer ricocheted around the internet. There were questions of the legality of Jones’ maneuver and endless tweets that NBC was getting what it deserved for inviting Jones on its program. The selective quote from Kelly seemed to tease a two-sided version of her: friendly and assuring off camera and tenacious and confrontational on camera. For Kelly and NBC it was yet another crisis in what has been an extraordinarily long week. And for Jones’ fans and the pro-Trump media — who reveled in the moment on Twitter — it was a dream scenario: a well-executed, embarrassing troll.
The media got owned yet again, underscoring what’s becoming a universal truth of the Trump era: The old media is not prepared for the new trolls.
At 3 a.m. Friday, Infowars delivered on part of its promise and published a 30-minute video to YouTube containing roughly 10 minutes of Kelly’s pre-interview where she’s attempting to get Jones to agree to the interview. In the tape, Kelly repeatedly reassures Jones she intends to be fair. “You’ll be fine with it,” she can be heard saying. “I’m not looking to portray you as a bogeyman… The craziest thing of all would be if some of the people who have this insane version of you in your heads walk away saying, ‘You know, I see the dad in him. I see the guy who loves those kids and is more complex than I’ve been led to believe.”
The negotiation and expectation-setting — mostly standard practice between a journalist and an interviewee she is planning to sandbag — appears all the more devastating in light of the week’s controversy surrounding the interview, in which Kelly was excoriated for giving Jones a national primetime platform for his views. Most notably, Kelly and NBC faced deep criticism from parents of children who were murdered in the Sandy Hook massacre — a tragedy that Jones has suggested multiple times could be a hoax.
Jones alleges now that his Sandy Hook views have been taken out of context by the media, which he argues in the leaked tape with Kelly. When Jones asks if Kelly will push him on Sandy Hook, Kelly appears to downplay her desire to ask hardball questions of Jones, suggesting instead that the interview will be his chance to air his views.
“I can ask you about that,” Kelly said of Sandy Hook. “This is not going to be a contentious gotcha exchange. I want to do in-depth profiles on people. I could ask you [about Sandy Hook] and say, ‘This is what the critics say’ — but this isn’t gonna be an ‘a-ha! Let’s play a clip.’” Kelly goes on to reassure Jones “It doesn’t do me any good if I do that to you and you go out there and say, ‘She did a hit piece on me’…and next time I try to get somebody they’ll say, ‘Look what you did to Alex Jones, screw you.’”
The 30-minute clip — which contains the usual diatribes from Jones about media fairness, three minutes of ads for Infowars and its array of nutraceutical supplements, and a well-edited series of montages featuring clips of mainstream media bashing both Kelly and Jones for the interview — is masterfully constructed with the purpose of embarrassing Kelly and NBC News.
After a week in which Kelly and her producers have repeatedly assured viewers and the press that the interview will hold Jones to account, the leaked audio — from weeks before the interview — suggests a soft-focus piece designed to humanize Jones. In the tape, Kelly tells Jones she took interest in him during his two-week-long custody trial, which she did not attend in person.
“I think you had a very good point about the way the media was covering it and treated you and your family as fair game, and they never would’ve done that if you were a mainstream media figure,” she says. “I saw a whole different side of you…[it] just reminded me you’re just like anybody. You’re a dad and you go through the things we all go through.”
At one point, Kelly even seems to suggest Jones will be able to review the footage of the interview. “I will promise you to personally look at any clips we want to use of you and have a producer run by you whether we are taking it in context,” she tells Jones.
Setting aside issues of legality and privacy — it’s unclear if Jones broke any laws recording the call with Kelly as Texas is a one-party consent state for recording audio — the surreptitious recordings come at an awful time for Kelly and NBC. As Page Six reported Thursday evening, NBC has re-edited the Jones interview following this week’s backlash to make it tougher on Jones and to include the perspective of the families of children killed in Sandy Hook. It’s a decision that, in light of the leaked tapes, will play directly into Jones and Infowars’ narrative that the interview was unfairly negotiated and edited in order to smear Jones.
NBC, for its part, is saying little and sticking by its piece. Though Kelly did not respond to a request for comment, an NBC News spokesperson suggested to BuzzFeed News it would continue with plans to air the interview.