The increasingly bitter debate over whether NBC’s Megyn Kelly should have interviewed the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is a reminder sometimes there’s no right answer.
Jones’ claims that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax is understandably traumatic to the parents of the murdered children. Consequently, many would argue that any publicity given to such a polarizing figure a betrayal of journalistic ethics.
But as media expert James Warren writes in Vanity Fair:
“Many reporters have spent quality time with bad guys. In my case, I’d include some very bad mobsters. There are awful people who also happen to be heads of government and major groups given to genocide.”
Why should these people get interviews and general news coverage and not Jones?
Kelly and NBC’s justification for giving Jones a platform is that he has gained such traction in the public sphere that he counts President Trump among his admirers.
Warren covers arguments on both sides of the battle, exploring a situation where seemingly every response has troubling implications.
“The Trump link is the thin reed upon which NBC News hangs the self-imagined noble cause of bringing him to a large TV audience,” writes Warren. “It does so while offering its own pre-show outrage at the audacity of the man it will market in coming days and monetize.
“Ain’t the First Amendment great?”
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