Megyn Kelly’s controversial sit-down interview with Infowars host Alex Jones just turned into a media game of he-said, she-said. On Thursday night, Jones leaked audio of what he says was a private, pre-interview phone call between himself and the newly appointed NBC news anchor, which he recorded without her knowledge.
“I’ve never done this in 22 years, I’ve never recorded another journalist,” Jones said in a video he posted to Twitter. “I’ve never done this, but I knew that it was a fraud, that it was a lie.”
“I knew it was all a lie,” he continued. “I said, ‘Sandy Hook happened,’ and she wouldn’t even put it in the promo pieces. So we’re going to release, oh yeah, we’re going to release the pre-interview. And then when they put their fraud out on Sunday – which I’ve asked them not to air because they’re misrepresenting who I am and saying I’m as bad as Saddam Hussein, or Jeffrey Dahmer, or Charles Manson – we’ve got the whole interview here … We’ve got it all … It’s all going to come out.”
In the first clip which Jones released, a two-minute preview of a promised longer audio file of their conversation, Kelly can be heard praising Jones and reassuring him that she wants to give him a chance to tell his side of the story.
“The reason you are interesting to me is because I followed your custody case, and I think you had a very good point about how the media was covering it and for some reason treated you and your family and what was going on as fair game when they never would have done that if you were a mainstream media figure,” Kelly says at one point in the clip. “I saw a different side of you in that whole thing and, you know, you just became very fascinating to me.”
At another point, the veteran TV personality promises that she will not portray Jones as “some kind of boogeyman” and tells him that she wants to highlight his paternal side. “I see the guy who loves those kids and is more complex than we have been led to believe,” she says. She then promises him that she will 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, what you are saying.”
NBC responded to Jones’ leaked tapes in a statement Friday condemning Jones’ actions and claiming that the timing of the recordings is telling.
“Despite Alex Jones’ efforts to distract from and ultimately prevent the airing of our report, we remain committed to giving viewers context and insight into a controversial and polarizing figure, how he relates to the president of the United States and influence others, and to getting this serious story right. Tune in Sunday,” the statement reads.
On Sunday, Kelly defended her decision to sit down with Jones, noting that he was of interest because, in part, President Trump had “been on and praises” Jones’ controversial show. After fallout over the next few days, however, Kelly issued a statement to the New York Times denouncing Jones’ views.
“I find Alex Jones’s suggestion that Sandy Hook was ‘a hoax’ as personally revolting as every other rational person does,” Kelly said. “It left me, and many other Americans, asking the very question that prompted this interview: How does Jones, who traffics in these outrageous conspiracy theories, have the respect of the president of the United States and a growing audience of millions?”
Kelly came under fire last Sunday, when NBC News announced that she would be chatting with the conspiracy theorist. Parents and family members of those murdered in the Sandy Hook massacre were outraged, and on Tuesday, Sandy Hook Promise, a leading gun violence prevention organization, dropped Kelly as their gala host.
In a letter to NBC News, a law firm representing the Sandy Hook families said the network is inflicting harm on them by presenting Jones’ views as plausible facts and threatened legal action.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Sandy Hook families are now also being interviewed for the Sunday Night story to present a more balanced features. “The interview is part of a larger piece about [Jones],” a source told the paper. “It’s not the only part.”