Here is the sequence of events:
1. Newly minted NBC “star” Megyn Kelly announced that she would be interviewing infamous right wing political troll and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on a segment of her new show.
Jones is a fringe media figure and a proven liar, but he has been cited positively by President Trump, and has successfully caused some wide-spread comtoversy and offense, such as when he claimed that the Newtown massacre was a hoax. There is nothing wrong with interviewing such figures; indeed, it is important to interview them. provided ethical journalism standards apply.
Unfortunately, as this episode demonstrates, journalists no longer know what those standards are.
2. In order to persuade Jones to agree to the interview, Kelly promised him—Jones had a tape—that he would be treated fairly. Note: when you tell someone they will be treated fairly in order to have him trust you, your definition of “fair” must be his definition of “fair.” If he is thinking, “Ah! She will be neutral rather than adversarial, and will not be looking for gotchas!,” but she meant, “It’s fair that I fillet you like a trout, you bastard!” then the interview subject has been deceived.
3. The parents of the victims of the Newtown shooting, as well as their sympathizers and allies, protested the interview, as I wrote about here, saying that NBC was giving Jones a platform. Sympathy and grief are not excuses for censorship. The fact that the parents hate Jones suggests that they shouldn’t watch him be interviewed. They should not seek to interfere with my right to see how he presents himself, and companies (like J.P Morgan) that responded to the threatened boycott by pulling their ads told me that they will go as the winds blow, no matter how totalitarian the direction it might be.
Good to know. To hell with them.
4. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking of progressives with muddled values, wanted NBC to pull the segment.. The NBC affiliate in Hartford refused to air the episode because the “wounds of that day that have yet to heal.”
Yes, by all means, journalists should never report news or do stories that might upset anyone.
5. Showing the integrity of a sneak-thief, NBC and Kelly furiously re-cut the interview and added a segment in which some Newtown parents could attack Jones.
6. Before the interview aired, Alex Jones released audiotape showing how egregiously Kelly misled him.
7. The interview aired last night, and reviewers were satisfied that Kelly was “tough enough” with Jones, and signaled with her voice, facial expressions, tone and questions that she thought he was scum. “Short of waterboarding him,” one critic wrote, “I don’t know what more Kelly could have done to expose Jones’ dark methods.”
Ethics Observations: Continue reading