Megyn Kelly is getting crushed in the big leagues and it’s beginning to show.
Aside from what seemed like a blatant grab for attention and ratings, there was no good reason to hand over NBC’s primetime audience to Alex Jones, a radical right-wing conspiracy theorist who believes the horrific Sandy Hook elementary school massacre is a hoax.
And Kelly did it on Father’s Day, even as still-grieving parents in Newtown, Conn., pleaded with her not to go with the story.
What an insult.
Sure, she looked tough as she grilled Jones, but Kelly delivered no news. She did not move the story of this monster forward, nor provide anything aside from a shallow profile of a frightening, sweaty, tin-foil-hat-wearing nutjob.
Yes, it’s newsworthy and scary that President Trump and his associates pay attention to Jones.
But that’s old news.
NBC News tried to balance her report with a show-ending testimonial from Tom Brokaw about hate speech in America today. He made a lot of sense, but adding him into the telecast to provide gravitas was so blatant.
Kelly’s profile of Jones comes just two weeks after she was stymied in an interview with duplicitous Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Sure it took guts to fly to St. Petersburg and lob questions at the former KGB spymaster. But he walked all over her in that interview and, worse, the Huffington Post revealed on Saturday how she wasted a huge chunk of her precious time with Putin by stroking his ego and allowing him to spout propaganda.
Kelly has argued that it’s important for her to “shine a light” on Jones, a man whose influence grows by the day. And she’s right, we need to be paying attention to him. Here’s the problem: At this point, Kelly just doesn’t have the chops to handle these monsters.
Maybe one day she will.
In a pre-interview phone conversation with Jones that he taped and released on his website, Kelly described herself to him as a combination of “Mike Wallace, Oprah Winfrey and Larry the Cable Guy.” She also told him she had no plans to meet with him “and be Barbara Walters.”
Wrong. We needed Walters, Diane Sawyer or Ed Bradley for a job like this.
Walters and Wallace could handle despots like Jones and Putin. Walters, in her prime, could be counted on to go for the jugular, while Wallace was a master of the skeptical followup question. He coaxed his subjects out with near-perfect incredulousness to expose their own hypocrisy and ridiculousness.
She’s certainly not Oprah, but maybe Kelly and Larry the Cable Guy have something in common after all: She was once a big star — on cable.