Megyn Kelly, formerly of Fox News and now making a new home at NBC, stirred up much controversy with the announcement that the feature segment this week would be with Alex Jones, the king of conspiracy theories on the populist right.
There was an immediate outpouring of rage at the idea that Kelly would give a “platform” to Jones. Critics pointed to his long record of saying hateful things and engaging in dishonest fear-mongering. Among his more loathsome antics, was repeatedly claiming that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax staged by actors, and that the grieving family members were somehow in on it.
So now that it has been broadcast, how did Kelly’s interview handle Jones? Jack Shafer explains at Politico:
When Kelly’s show finally aired, she took the mendacious Jones apart in such a textbook manner you had to wonder what all the shouting had been about. The Jones pattern, she said at the segment’s top, is making “reckless accusations followed by equivocations and excuses” when questioned. […] Short of waterboarding him, I don’t know what more Kelly could have done to expose Jones’ dark methods.
What a poetic demonstration of the classical virtues of America’s founding vision of free speech, and its benefits over the notion of censoring bad speech to prevent its spread. As eloquently stated by Justice Louis Brandeis in 1927, when faced with toxic and obnoxious speech, “the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”