Megyn Kelly: Nothing But Contemptible

What’s next–interviewing Holocaust deniers? Slavery defenders? Defrocked priests who abused minors? People who torture animals for fun?

It’s hard to imagine NBC sinking any lower than its decision to air Megyn Kelly’s interview tomorrow night with a conspiracy theorist so vile his name does not merit being mentioned here. Whether motivated by greed or a desire to suck up to the most unhinged of Donald Trump’s supporters in a bizarre effort to silence “liberal bias” allegations, this choice is foul.

What can possibly be gained by this decision, in terms of NBCUniversal’s reputation? How does this serve the public interest? Why would Kelly, NBC News President Andrew Lack, and NBCUniversal feel the need to once again traumatize those affected by incidents of gun violence that conspiracy theorist shamelessly exploited–especially after the Steve Scalise tragedy?

One of the folks traumatized by this sleazy interview is Nelba L. Márquez-Greene, the mother of a child murdered in the 2012 slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, who masterfully describes the malevolence of what Kelly and NBC are doing:

I am writing this while sitting in a Starbucks in Newtown, Conn., on the last day of school, anticipating the return of one child when I should be getting back two. My daughter, Ana Grace, was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting of December 2012. She will always be 6 years old. She will never give another Father’s Day present to my husband, Jimmy. I wish her death were only a hoax.

Deniers of tragedy cause unfathomable pain to families who have experienced catastrophic and public losses. It disrupts the grief process, which is unending. Sometimes, it threatens their physical health and safety. I cannot begin to describe the pain of experiencing death threats and harassment on top of mourning the loss of a beloved family member. Five years after the Sandy Hook shooting, we receive emails weekly suggesting that our daughter did not die. Or that President Barack Obama was behind her death.

Deniers of tragedy also threaten the health and wellness of thousands of vulnerable and disconnected people in our country who seek a “why” to events that can never clearly have one. The government didn’t “stage Newtown,” and I am not a “crisis actor.” But yes, things “just don’t add up about Sandy Hook.” What doesn’t add up is that there still has been no meaningful legislative response to help curb this kind of violence. And that we don’t run our mental-health and other community programs nearly as well as we should.

Deniers and other hoaxers cause real harm to their followers. Ask the man about to be sentenced for shooting up a family restaurant in Washington because he believed the nonsense — also spread by [the subject of Kelly’s interview] — about some “Pizzagate ” child-abuse ring. Ask the Sandy Hook denier who was sentenced last week to five months in jail for threats against a victim’s family.

Kelly’s willingness to conduct this interview proves once again that she has no journalistic ethics or integrity to speak of, and never did. Kelly was always a glorified tabloid figure, and her apparent belief that there is merit to providing a conspiracy theorist a prime-time forum reaffirms that you can take a hack out of Fox News, but you can’t take Fox News out of the hack.

I can only imagine what Kelly’s colleagues at NBC News and MSNBC would say about her decision to provide a spotlight to a conspiracy theorist, were they not presumably bound by contractual clauses preventing them from making public statements perceived to be disparaging towards colleagues or management. (Perhaps NBC News Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw has a little more contractual freedom.) Something tells me Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell and Joy Reid are less than thrilled. Chuck Todd must want to upchuck. (At least one NBC affiliate is doing the right thing with regard to this tabloid trash.)

Interestingly enough, NBCUniversal’s entertainment division understood, in the aftermath of the Scalise tragedy last Wednesday, that good taste still counts for something:

NBC has postponed tonight’s scheduled episode of The Carmichael Show in the wake of this morning’s shooting at an Alexandria, VA park where House Republicans were holding a baseball practice.

The episode, titled “Shoot-Up-Able,” involves a shooting at a mall, and was postponed out of sensitivity following today’s shooting which left four injured, including Rep. Steve Scalise, who’s reported to be in critical condition after surgery. A rescheduled air date for “Shoot-Up-Able” has not been set.

It was replaced with the “Lesbian Wedding” episode, which was initially scheduled to air June 28, according to NBC.

The mall shooting episode of The Carmichael Show will likely never be aired. Kelly’s interview shouldn’t be aired either. Imagine if NBCUniversal’s entertainment division started airing old episodes of The Cosby Show again. That would be insensitive to the public, right? So why does NBCUniversal’s news division have lower standards for public sensitivity than the organization’s entertainment division?

Kelly, Lack and NBCUniversal deserve public scorn, shame, rebuke and ridicule for this idiotic interview. Giving a forum to this conspiracy theorist is sick and twisted. Just before the Cosby Show era, NBC’s slogan was “Be There.” This Sunday night, be somewhere else.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.