After the fact, the Sandy Hook families were right: NBC should not have aired the interview with Alex Jones.
There simply was not enough news value in the Q&A between the internet bomb thrower and Megyn Kelly to mitigate the pain to families who buried their innocent children, yet had to endure a national circus about it on Father's Day.
I mean, what did we learn? That Jones' preposterous contention that the massacre in Connecticut was faked to whip up anti-gun sentiment is cruel and stupid? Every sane person knows that.
That Jones himself is a callous huckster who could not even remotely hold his own under Kelly's questioning? Yeah, maybe we learned that, but so what? There are millions of people who peddle deceit for money, it's almost a national pastime.
NBC tried to make Jones more relevant by tying him into President Trump. The point that Trump's populist outreach includes fringe people like Alex Jones has some merit, but, again, it doesn't come close to justifying another round of horror for the grieving families.
The interview itself was to the point. As with most high-profile people, Megyn Kelly is being mistreated by the chattering class. Her questions were clear and concise, so viewers unfamiliar with Alex Jones and his Infowars brand would understand the dynamic taking place. Kelly could have been more condemning in her reaction to Jones' dishonest rationalizations but that would have violated her pre-interview promise to Jones that she would not preside over a "hit piece."
Promises made by journalists should be upheld.
The only way NBC News could have legitimized the situation was to spotlight the evil Alex Jones and others are selling and why some Americans are consuming it. Yes, there is blatant evil all over the Internet, and it is eroding our standard of living.
A few years ago, I interviewed the former KKK leader David Duke when he was running for office in Louisiana. I crushed Duke using his own racist and anti-Semitic words. It was easy, but it was also foolish. I gave the guy what he wanted: attention. Nobody learned anything.
At least that interview had no unintended consequences. There were no grieving families involved.
That wasn't the case with a 9/11 truther whom I interviewed a few weeks after the 2001 attack. Even though the guy lost his father in the World Trade Center, he was on a mission to accuse President Bush of actually orchestrating the attack. I hammered the man hard and gained viewer support by doing so. But in reality, I accomplished nothing, and I apologize to the 9/11 families who were exposed to that gibberish.
By the way, Alex Jones also peddled the truther atrocity.
The decline of the American media has been stunning and has coincided with the rise of the Internet where nuts can bloviate all over the place without consequence. Radio and television now must compete with the devices for attention and that is leading to a collapse in well thought-out editorial decision-making.
There is a valid news story surrounding Alex Jones and others like him. The story is about the growing commerce in evil and the failure of many media companies to seek the truth — especially if the truth goes up against ideological mandates.
It's a complicated story populated not only by Alex Jones and his subterranean compatriots, but also by mainstream media chieftains who could not care less about factual fairness and promoting journalistic responsibility.
The victims of Sandy Hook deserve far better from their country than programs that feature sadistic liars. We all know they exist. What we don't know is the true extent of the media decline that is allowing evil to prosper in the marketplace.
That story is sitting there in full view.
Let's see if anyone has the guts to pursue it.
Bill O'Reilly is the former host of "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News and is the author of "Old School: Life in the Sane Lane," and "Killing the Rising Sun." He now analyzes the news on BillO'Reilly.com.
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