Tuesday, June 13, 2017


After my last post about the urgency of fighting the Trumpcare bill, I should be warning everyone not to be distracted by the latest shiny object; instead, I'm getting distracted myself.

Okay, so I'm a hypocrite. I'm going to talk about Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones

I don't believe there's anything inherently wrong with the notion of doing a mainstream-media story on Jones that includes an interview. I don't think a story on Jones has to legitimize him. I see that J.P. Morgan is pulling its advertising from Megyn Kelly's show and the rest of NBC until after Kelly's interview with Jones is broadcast. I understand that. I understand thinking that's it's especially offensive to do a Father's Day broadcast of an interview with a man who's told a number of parents that their murdered children never existed. But I don't think the segment has to be bad journalism. But it probably will be, because (a) the interviewer is Megyn Kelly and (b) the interview format -- and this seems as if it will be primarily an interview -- is all wrong for dealing with people like Jones.

The way you approach a liar like Jones is to compile and broadcast/publish a detailed dossier on him. Tell us who he is, what he's done, and why he's important. You don't really need to interview him -- what's the point? So he can give his side of the story? He's given his side of the story, in every broadcast, every day. Sure, ask him for a comment -- but new interview quotes should be a tiny portion of your story, not the bulk of it, which is the mistake it appears that Kelly is making (and that Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes made when he interviewed alt-right liar Mike Cernovich). If you make the interview the bulk of your story, unless you're Perry freaking Mason and you're going to make your subject break down on the witness stand, he's going to use every rhetorical trick he knows to justify himself, at least in his fans' eyes, and he's going to score some points. If your subject is a scumbag, tell us why he's a scumbag. Don't turn the majority of the segment over to him so he can tell us why he's really a swell guy.

In an advance teaser, Jones dodges on Sandy Hook and engages in whataboutism, arguing that people who are upset about Sandy Hook aren't upset about civilian casualties in U.S. wars.

Kelly calls this "a dodge," and one cheer for her, but every second of airtime spent debating whether that's a dodge is time spent not reminding us how truly repellent Jones's words on this subject have been:
The whole thing is a giant hoax. And the problem is, how do you deal with a total hoax? I mean, it’s just -- how do you even convince the public something’s a total hoax?


The general public doesn’t know the school was actually closed the year before. They don’t know they’ve sealed it all, demolished the building. They don’t know that they had the kids going in circles in and out of the building as a photo-op. Blue screen, green screens, they got caught using.

I mean the whole thing -- but remember, this is the same White House that’s been caught running the fake bin Laden raid that’s come out and been faked. It’s the same White House that got caught running all these other fake events over and over again. And it’s the same White House that says, “I never said that you could keep your doctor” when he did say you could keep your doctor. People just instinctively know that there’s a lot of fraud going on. But it took me about a year with Sandy Hook to come to grips with the fact that the whole thing was fake. I mean, even I couldn’t believe it. I knew they jumped on it, used the crisis, hyped it up. But then I did deep research -- and my gosh, it just pretty much didn’t happen.
There are many more quotes and clips here. Does Kelly include them? Or does Jones sit across from her and do most of the talking while she alludes briefly to what he's said on the air? It looks to me as if it's the latter.

Raw interviews are bad journalism. Nearly every morning I hear NPR segments that are just raw interviews with skilled spin doctors. The better interviewers are sometimes armed with important details with which they can rebut the spin. But the usual result is that segments of this kind are 100% spin.

That's not journalism -- it's stenography. And it looks as if this Kelly segment will be pretty much the same, with an occasional Kelly harrumph, for balance.


And no, I'm not impressed that Kelly got Jones to rant about "animal-human hybrids" at the end of the teaser posted above. Note that it's Jones who raises the subject, not Kelly. He wants that to be part of the segment. He wants right-thinking people to say, "Why are you so worked up about a man who's such an obvious lunatic?" It's Jones's way of suggesting that his broadcasts are just innocent fun. (Cf. Rush Limbaugh, who used to insist that he was just a "harmless little fuzzball.") If we don't take Jones seriously, he's free to inject truly dangerous nonsense into our political discourse -- and some people in his audience vote.


And if we're wondering whether Kelly got too close to her interview subject to look at him dispassionately, there's this:

I think we have our answer.

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