On Sunday night, a wildly controversial interview with right wing conspiracy nutjob Alex Jones conducted by former Fox News host Megyn Kelly is scheduled to air on NBC. One local NBC affiliate, however, has decided to break with precedent and not air it.
AdAge’s TVNewser says that it’s not unheard of for local affiliates of major networks to decline to air network programming. However, it is unusual for affiliates owned by the network, as the one in question is, to do so.
The NBC affiliate that will be declining to air Kelly’s interview with Jones is the one that serves an area including Newtown, Connecticut, where the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre took place.
This affiliate has a deep personal stake in whether or not the Alex Jones interview airs. Jones has in the past peddled the baseless conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting was a hoax.
Jones has claimed that the individuals interviewed by news stations in the aftermath of the incident, for example, are nothing more than crisis actors. A belief that much of the government is literally out to get us is integral to the worldview of wild right wingers like Alex Jones. They say that through chaos, feigned and real, “radical leftists” will impose a “one world government.”
In 2012 at Sandy Hook, dozens of elementary school students were killed by a crazed, heavily armed man. The families of these children will live for the rest of their lives having lost a number of their youngest members. Jones thinks nothing of any of this and has long thought it nothing to suggest that the shooting “has more holes in it than Swiss Cheese.”
Understandably, therefore, a number of outside parties have balked at the idea of Kelly giving national airtime to Jones, who operates mostly on his fringe, spam filled website and YouTube channel, catering to the alt-right.
An internal memo from WVIT, the aforementioned Connecticut NBC station that won’t be airing Sunday’s interview with Jones, begins by laying out the obvious seriousness of the situation:
‘Whenever there is news regarding the Sandy Hook tragedy, we know that the pain resurfaces… Over the last few days, we have listened intently to Sandy Hook parents, our viewers and importantly, to you. We have considered the deep emotions from the wounds of that day that have yet to heal.’
The memo, obtained by AdAge’s TVNewser, goes on to state that the network plans to “continue our local coverage, including a special report on our Sunday 11pm newscast, which includes Sandy Hook parents, Governor Malloy and others who work to affect change around violence and mental illness.”
NBC has already faced a mountain of criticism for having Jones on, and even Jones himself has said he wants the interview pulled, saying that it will be slanted the wrong way.
A lawyer representing a number of Sandy Hook victims’ families sent a letter to NBC executives that threatened legal action on account of the interview, but CNN explains that prospects for this legal action getting off the ground are slim. Should Jones call Sandy
Hook victims’ families liars, than a defamation suit could proceed.
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