NBC News’ Megyn Kelly grilled conspiracy theorist and talk show host Alex Jones in an interview that aired Sunday about various falsehoods he has pushed on his program, including that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax.
When Kelly announced that she would interview Jones, who is also one of the world's most famous 9/11 "truthers," on her program, “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly,” the decision was met with controversy. Critics — including parents of Sandy Hook victims — argued that Kelly shouldn’t give a platform to Jones.
Kelly opened the segment by addressing the critics of the interview.
“For years, Jones has been spreading conspiracy theories, claiming, for instance, that elements of the U.S. government allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen and that the horrific Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax,” she said. “Some thought we shouldn't broadcast this interview because his baseless allegations aren't just offensive, they're dangerous. But here's the thing: Alex Jones isn't going away. Over the years, his YouTube channel has racked up 1.3 billion views. He has millions of listeners and the ear of our current president.”
During the interview, Kelly pressed Jones on his statement that the Sandy Hook massacre was “fake.”
"The whole thing is a giant hoax. How do you deal with a total hoax? It took me about a year, with Sandy Hook, to come to grips with the fact that the whole thing was fake. I did deep research. And my gosh, it just pretty much didn't happen," Jones said on his program about the tragedy.
When Kelly asked him about his remarks, Jones replied: “At that point, and I do think there's some cover-up and some manipulation, that is pretty much what I believed. But then I was also going into devil's advocate. But then we know there's mass shootings, and these things happen. So again—”
“But you're trying to have it all ways, right?” Kelly interjected.
“No, I'm not,” he said.
Kelly continued to press Jones, who argued that he “didn't create that story.”
Jones disputed the evidence of the massacre — most notably the bodies of the victims.
“I remember, even that day, to go back from memory, then saying, ‘But then, some of it looks like it's real,’” he said. “But then what do you do, when they've got the kids going in circles, in and out of the building with their hands up? I've watched the footage. And it looks like a drill.”
Jones added, “I tend to believe that children probably did die there. But then you look at all the other evidence on the other side. I can see how other people believe that nobody died there.”
Kelly noted that there is zero evidence suggesting the tragedy was faked.
Neil Heslin, the father of Jesse Lewis, 6, who was killed in the massacre, told Kelly that Jones’ baseless allegations about the tragedy are “disrespectful.”
“I did lose my son,” Heslin said. "And the 26 other families lost somebody. And I take that very personal."
Kelly noted that her piece would air on Father’s Day and asked Heslin if he had a message for Jones.
“I think he's blessed to have his children to spend the day with, to speak to. I don't have that,” Heslin replied.
Kelly also pushed Jones on his baseless claim that Chobani, a yogurt company, was intentionally "importing migrant rapists."
Asked by Kelly why he "misstated facts about Chobani and its owner," Jones said that his outlet InfoWars based its comments about Chobani on other outlets' reporting. A lawsuit brought by Chobani against Jones said that InfoWars was the only source of the false story. Jones apologized to Chobani as part of the settlement of a lawsuit brought against him by the company.
"And so I simply pointed out that we were reporting on other people's reports that were not entirely accurate. And for that, we were sorry," he said. "'Cause it was true."
Jones said he apologized to Chobani "because they chose to go after me," but likened that apology to "basically, a PR event."
"Let's just say Chobani was real happy to get out of that lawsuit," he said.
Kelly also addressed another conspiracy theory pushed by Jones called “Pizzagate.” Jones said that Democrats were running a child sex-trafficking operation out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. The claim was baseless, and Jones later apologized in the face of a potential lawsuit from the restaurant's owner.
According to CNN, after the Pizzagate theory was circulated online, Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, fired multiple shots inside the pizzeria at the center of the alleged conspiracy, Comet Ping Pong, while searching for evidence of the sex slaves he believed were being held there. He surrendered after discovering no evidence, and no one was injured. Welch later pleaded guilty to multiple gun-related charges.
Charlie Sykes, a conservative political commentator, told Kelly that Jones “has injected this sort of toxic paranoia into the mainstream of conservative thought in a way that would have been inconceivable a couple of decades ago.”
“We're talking about somebody who traffics in some of the sickest, most offensive types of theories,” Sykes said.