The decision to interview Jones was met with criticism from those arguing a mainstream outlet like NBC should not give a platform to a unsafe conspiracy theorist - but Kelly's tough questioning of Jones and some selective editing drew plaudits from skeptics who assumed Kelly would grant the Infowars host a puff piece. Amid that controversy, the piece that aired Sunday credibly justified covering the Infowars phenomenon, which was the bar that "Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly" ultimately had to clear.
Jones said at one point that he was playing "devil's advocate" in denying the mass shooting.
To her credit, Kelly was aggressive in her questioning of Jones' public comments during the segment itself, which drew from hours of sit-down conversations with Jones. The station's General Manager Susan Tully explained the decision in an internal memo, and cited Jones' abhorrent statements about the deadly elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT in 2012.
"Some of it looks like it's real but then what do you do when they've got the kids going in circles in and out of the building with their hands up".
"Parents should never have to bury their own children", Jones said. Forbes reported JPMorgan, along with several local advertisers, dropped spots from the show or, in the case of the financial company, the enirety of NBC News, until after the interview aired.
"He has millions of listeners and the ear of our current president", Kelly said before tossing to the interview.
CNN reports Kelly's show garnered just 3.5 million viewers, its lowest yet. Lawyers representing 12 people who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook massacre wrote to the network and asked them not to air the interview. An unaired segment obtained by Huffington Post showed Kelly telling him that "virtually every person we have met on the street says what they respect about you is they feel that you have returned dignity to Russian Federation".
Jones also downplayed his connection to Trump, who has spoken warmly of him and at times seemed to use conspiracies aired on Infowars in his campaign speeches. But even a masterclass in dress-down interviews wouldn't undo the damage already done by NBC News and Kelly.
Megyn Kelly's much talked about interview with Alex Jones got plenty of attention for Kelly and NBC, both good and bad, but not many viewers.