Megyn Kelly issued a statement Tuesday morning defending her decision to interview controversial conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for her new Sunday night show on NBC.
The backlash to the upcoming sit-down with the Infowars host has grown intense since NBC released a clip of the interview.
The loudest protests have come from families of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting and advocates who support them, including Chelsea Clinton.
Jones has told his followers that the massacre of 26 people in Newtown, Conn., was orchestrated and faked by the government.
Never miss a local story.
The families are particularly offended that the interview will air on Father’s Day.
Late Monday, Kelly was asked to step aside as host of the Promise Champions Gala, an annual event for the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, a nonprofit gun violence prevention group formed by Sandy Hook families. The event takes place Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
“Sandy Hook Promise cannot support the decision by Megyn or NBC to give any form of voice or platform to Alex Jones and have asked Megyn Kelly to step down as our Promise Champion Gala host,” Nicole Hockley, co-founder of the group and the mother of victim Dylan Hockley, said in a statement.
“It is our hope that Megyn and NBC reconsider and not broadcast this interview.”
Variety reported that Kelly agreed to step down as the event’s host.
Jones himself on Monday called for Kelly to cancel the broadcast of their interview, claiming that it misrepresents his views on Sandy Hook and calling it “fake news.”
Jones has described his experience of being interviewed by Kelly as “soul-sucking.”
After the interview he attacked Kelly on his show, telling his fans she’s “not feminine” and she was “cold, robotic, dead. I felt zero attraction to Megyn Kelly. That’s not an insult to Megyn Kelly.
“I talked to a lot of other folks that know her, they said, ‘No, it’s the same.’ Because you’re dealing with a sociopath? A psychopath? I don’t know.”
At one point he said of her, “You can have that painted-on joker smile all you want. And those lawyer, sociopath eyes. But at the end of the day, I’ve spoken the truth.”
In her statement on Tuesday, Kelly wrote that she finds Jones’ suggestion that Sandy Hook was a hoax “as personally revolting as every other rational person does.
“It left me, and many other Americans, asking the very question that prompted this interview: How does Jones, who traffics in these outrageous conspiracy theories, have the respect of the president of the United States and a growing audience of millions?”
She said she is doing what journalists are supposed to do – shining a light “on this influential figure, and yes – to discuss the considerable falsehoods he has promoted with near impunity.”
But Kelly is getting blasted from many sides for giving Jones a platform on network TV.
On Monday, JP Morgan Chase requested that its digital ads and local TV ads be removed from Kelly’s show and all NBC News programming until after the interview airs Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The company’s chief marketing officer, Kristin Lemkau, tweeted that “as an advertiser, I’m repulsed that Megyn Kelly would give a second of airtime” to Jones.
Also on Monday, Andrea Ruth, a writer for the conservative website RedState, wrote: “What is Megyn Kelly thinking?
“I’m a news and politics-engaged individual, but I don't care to watch interviews with liars of either Putin’s or Jones’ ilk. These interviews aren’t interesting even in the abstract.”
Ruth wrote that her father was an early Infowars follower and that she is not naive of the Alex Jones “ilk.”
“Putin and Jones are thankfully anathemas to the majority of Americans, but legitimizing characters like Jones is not helpful in the wake of 2016,” Ruth wrote.
The executive producer of Kelly’s show told CNN that viewers should not prejudge the interview.
“Judge it when you see it,” said Liz Cole. “Megyn does a strong interview. We’re not just giving him a platform.”