Monday, June 19, 2017

The Tactics Used by Hecklers Against Megyn Kelly Will Soon Be Used Against Rachel Maddow and Others

I said so much on Twitter the other day. Frankly, I was kind of shocked that NBC caved to the mob.

But see Jack Shafer, at Politico, "Megyn Kelly Pantses Alex Jones":

For all the pre-interview fuss, NBC’s new star exposed the Infowars host for what he is. But the controversy was never really about him.

The censorious powers of the heckler’s veto have evolved now to the point that people are willing to call for the banning and shunning of works of journalism not yet published. Former Fox News Channel and current NBC News anchor Megyn Kelly got the treatment this week as news of her Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly interview with Infowars mainspring Alex Jones, well before it was scheduled to air June 18, made the rounds. At least the Ayatollah Khomeini waited for the publication of Satanic Verses before he issued a fatwa ordering the murder of its author, Salman Rushdie.

Sandy Hook Elementary families implored NBC News to dump the segment because Jones has called the Newtown, Connecticut, school killings a hoax—by actors, not real people—designed, Jones said, to encourage new gun control laws. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio concurred, writing, “Pull the segment.” The NBC affiliate in nearby Hartford refused to air the episode because the “wounds of that day that have yet to heal.” Fleeing from the controversy, advertiser JPMorgan Chase dropped its spots from the show, and the usual voices damned Kelly for giving Jones “a platform.”

Not to be outshone, Jones performed some culture jamming of his own, releasing his own secretly recorded audio of the pre-interview in which Kelly buttered him up. “It’s not going to be some gotcha hit piece, I can promise you that,” Kelly told Jones on the tape. Predictably, Jones made his own call for a boycott, tweeting, “I’m calling for @megynkelly to cancel the airing of our interview for misrepresenting my views on Sandy Hook.”

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. The two best examples of this are his promotion of the “Pizzagate“ lies about a satanic child porn ring and his wild allegation that Chobani was “importing Migrant Rapists,” as Infowars hyped its report on Twitter. In both cases, lawsuits have forced Jones to retract and apologize for airing these dishonest stories, and yet in conversation with Kelly he still hedges and quibbles like a con artist in an effort to have his conspiracy pizza and keep his yogurt, too. Likewise with the pathetic claims about the Sandy Hook killings. He’s still throwing the see-through drapery of devil’s advocacy to blur the fact that on most subjects he’s talking out of his tinfoil hat.

Short of waterboarding him, I don’t know what more Kelly could have done to expose Jones’ dark methods...


Most viewers extend to broadcasters like Anderson Cooper, Chris Wallace, Jake Tapper and Erin Burnett the sort of goodwill they draw on to tackle fraught topics and subjects that will end up upsetting somebody. Due to her Fox background, Kelly doesn’t command that sort of goodwill—the protests against her show are more about her than they are Alex Jones or Sandy Hook. Kelly’s enemies, places like liberal agitprop outfit Media Matters for America, which has been riding this story hard, would likely be raising a ruckus if she went to work as a Today co-host and did celebrity fluff.

Would the calls for a Kelly boycott be so insistent if a similar technique hadn’t succeeded in driving Fox’s Bill O’Reilly off his network? My guess is that they wouldn’t. Kelly won this round, but she wasn’t the only one to pay the price. If you like edgy, truth-telling journalism, the spirited campaign against her has written a heckler’s veto playbook that future activists and scolds will eventually apply to your preferred anchor, be it Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity. You’ve been warned.