FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
June 19, 2017

Megyn Kelly's controversial sit-down with Infowars founder Alex Jones was generally well-received after NBC spent the lead-up to the program being blasted for legitimizing the conspiracy theorist with the interview.

Kelly began Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly by addressing the importance of the interview upfront. "Jones' influence clearly merits examination, especially given his periodic access to the Trump administration and their overlapping constituencies," CNN wrote in their review of the show. "The fringe element that Jones represents needs to be understood, which isn't the same as needing to be condoned. Kelly struck that point right up front on Sunday Night."

"Here's the thing: Alex Jones isn't going away," Kelly told her viewers.

Variety's TV critic, Sonia Saraiya, disagreed with the positive reviews, writing: "Kelly does not manage to make the segment into a story because she has no story."

Advertisers cautiously avoided the program and Jones, who spent the lead-up to the interview attempting to one-up NBC and Kelly with accusations that the interview was misleadingly edited, "seemed to declare victory," on Sunday, "even popping a bottle of champagne at one point" during a live-stream of his reaction to the show, Oliver Darcy told Reliable Sources.

"The question now is: Was the interview worth it?" Darcy writes. "It's hard to tell in the immediate aftermath, but it seems Jones still may have come out on top." Jeva Lange

June 16, 2017
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

InfoWars founder Alex Jones attacked NBC News and Megyn Kelly on Thursday evening for allegedly misrepresenting him, with Jones vowing to release an unedited version of his interview with Kelly prior to its official airing on the network Sunday night. "I've never done this in 22 years, I've never recorded another journalist," Jones teased in a video Thursday. "I've never done this, but I knew that it was a fraud, that it was a lie."

Jones also released audio of a conversation he had with Kelly before the interview, in which Kelly apparently promises Jones "this is not going to be a contentious, sort of 'gotcha' exchange. I'm not looking to portray you as some boogeyman or just any sort of gotcha moment. I just want to talk about you."

Kelly, though, has come under heavy criticism for interviewing Jones at all, as the controversial commentator peddles conspiracy theories, including that Sandy Hook was a hoax. Kelly issued a statement this week in response to the backlash, claiming she finds Jones' theories as "personally revolting as every other rational person does."

Page Six reports Kelly has since "completely overhauled her Sunday night show featuring [Jones] ... editing her interview ... to be tougher on him, following all the backlash this week." Jeva Lange

June 13, 2017

NBC News' Megyn Kelly defended her controversial decision to interview Infowars host and Sandy Hook denier Alex Jones on her new Sunday newsmagazine program, Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly. Kelly claimed that with the interview, she intended to "shine a light" on the "considerable falsehoods" Jones promotes.

"I find Alex Jones' suggestion that [the Sandy Hook massacre] was 'a hoax' as personally revolting as every other rational person does," Kelly said in a statement, adding she interviewed Jones in pursuit of an answer to how he holds the "respect of the president ... and a growing audience of millions."

The interview, which airs in full this Sunday, has sparked a sizable backlash on social media and already cost the network at least one advertiser, J.P. Morgan Chase. Jeva Lange

May 1, 2017

You know that joke about how 10 years ago, we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope, and Steve Jobs? Just months ago, Fox News had Greta Van Susteren, Bill O'Reilly, Megyn Kelly, and Sean Hannity. And while there's no catchy way to say it, today the network has no Van Susteren, O'Reilly, or Kelly — not to mention co-president Bill Shine or founder Roger Ailes.

Here is some perspective in the form of a strangely jarring publicity image used by Fox just a few short months ago:

The last one standing in Fox News' Twitter header of yore is Sean Hannity. Van Susteren has joined MSNBC while Kelly has joined NBC.

O'Reilly and Ailes were ousted from the network in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. Shine resigned Monday. Jeva Lange

May 1, 2017
Charles Pertwee/Getty Images for Barclays Asia Trophy

Twitter plans to launch a 24/7 news stream this fall in partnership with Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal reports. "It is going to be focused on the most important news for an intelligent audience around the globe and it's going to be broader in focus than our existing network," said Bloomberg's CEO, Justin Smith.

Bloomberg already has a television station, but the content for Twitter will be a separate channel involving live news reporting and videos by Twitter users. The social media company has been pushing its involvement in streaming live programs in recent years, including nabbing sports exclusives and coverage of political debates. In 2017's first quarter, the company broadcast a reported 800 hours of video.

"We really think we can reach audiences that are not paying for TV and are watching television on the go and we think Bloomberg is the perfect partner for us to start with," said Twitter's chief financial and operating officer, Anthony Noto. Jeva Lange

April 28, 2017
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

It is not such an exaggeration to call the tension between the Trump administration and the press tasked to hold them accountable an all-out war. President Trump has a light trigger finger when it comes to blasting off tweets disparaging the media, and his staffers reportedly have made a game of intentionally feeding misinformation to reporters.

Never before, then, has there been such a strange and curious time for Politico to run its annual survey of the White House Press Corps. With responses from more than 60 journalists, Politico found that 68 percent believe Trump is "the most openly anti-press president in U.S. history," while 25 percent "occasionally" and 7 percent "often" heard complaints about their stories from the White House.

Perhaps most startling of all, over half of journalists covering the White House say they have been lied to by members of the administration. Seventeen percent said the lies were constant, while 46 percent said they were merely occasional. Just 12 percent said they had never been lied to. The least helpful aide for the press was counselor Kellyanne Conway, followed by chief strategist Stephen Bannon; the most helpful aides were Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, followed by Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

But with all the talk of the media being the "enemy of the American people" coming from the White House, reporters remain relatively unfazed. Seventy-five percent called the accusations a distraction, while only 25 percent said they were a real threat.

See the full responses at Politico, and read The Week's editor William Falk on what it has been like covering the Trump presidency in his editor's letter here. Jeva Lange

April 28, 2017
Ben Jackson/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Bombastic conspiracy theorist and Infowars founder Alex Jones lost a custody case against his ex-wife, Kelly Jones, over the right to decide whom their children live with, The Daily Beast reports. Central to the case was a debate over if Jones' character on Infowars was authentic, or just a persona.

Jones is famous for promoting conspiracy theories, including that Hillary Clinton is a literal sulfuric demon and that the government perpetrated 9/11 and the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. His show is broadcast on 150 stations and Infowars.com gets millions of unique visitors every month and is ranked 387th of all U.S. websites — not far behind MLB.com and PBS.org. During the trial, Judge Orlinda Naranjo averted allowing arguments centered on Jones' politics and limited the number of Infowars clips that could be shown in court.

While the parents will continue to have joint custody over their three children, Kelly Jones had told the court she had only seen the kids five times this year. The jury ruled in her favor 10-2.

Attorney Robert Hoffman argued Alex Jones is a "master manipulator" who is "like a cult leader, and we see the horrific things cult leaders do to their followers — and the kids are his followers, doing what daddy says to do." Kelly Jones said she was afraid of her children being exposed to his beliefs and that they are "morphing into him." Jeva Lange

April 19, 2017
Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Fox News is reshuffling its primetime lineup after parent company 21st Century Fox announced that host Bill O'Reilly will be leaving the network following a history of sexual harassment allegations. Tucker Carlson will move to O'Reilly's 8 p.m. ET spot and The Five will move to his vacated 9 p.m. ET spot starting Monday, April 24.

An internal memo to Fox News employees said: "By rating standards, Bill O'Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news. In fact, his success by any measure is indisputable. Fox News has demonstrated again and again the strength of its talent bench. We have full confidence that the network will continue to be a powerhouse in cable news."

Carlson in particular is having a big year. The 47-year-old was bumped to the coveted 9 p.m. spot after it was left open by Megyn Kelly's departure in January. Before coming to Fox, Carlson previously co-founded and edited The Daily Caller and was a host with CNN and MSNBC.

"A new generation takes over the most valuable real estate in cable news," tweeted NPR's David Folenflik. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads