Conservative radio host Alex Jones leaked audio clips of conversations he said he had with NBC News anchor Megyn Kelly amid a firestorm over their controversial interview that is set to air Sunday.
Kelly faced backlash this week for giving Jones a national television platform to share his far-right beliefs beyond his more than 2 million “InfoWars” radio show subscribers. The conspiracy theorist has previously suggested the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was a hoax.
Jones tweeted Friday that he released the recordings of his conversations with Kelly because she “lied about the nature of this interview.” “I want to set the record straight,” he said.
Here’s what to know about the controversy surrounding the interview:
How did the Megyn Kelly-Alex Jones controversy unfold?
Kelly interviewed Jones for a segment on NBC airing Sunday night that dives into Jones’ thoughts on “controversies and conspiracies,” she tweeted earlier this week. In an NBC promotional video, Kelly can be seen asking Jones about his theories on Sept. 11 and the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. Jones said he believes the Sept. 11 terrorist attack was an “inside job” and he questioned facts about the deadly 2012 school shooting.
The interview clips quickly sparked outrage and prompted Sandy Hook Promise, a gun violence prevention organization founded by some family members of Sandy Hook victims, to dump Kelly as the host of their annual gala.
“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, the group's co-founder, said in a statement. “It is our hope that Megyn and NBC reconsider and not broadcast this interview.”
In response, Kelly issued a statement, saying she was “disappointed” at the event organizers’ decision. She also bashed Jones’ Sandy Hook theory as “revolting” but said she needed to “shine a light” on “this influential figure” as a journalist.
Jones appeared to take offense to Kelly’s response, as well as how he's portrayed in NBC's promotional clip. He said he released audio clips to prove Kelly lied to him when she was convincing him in phone calls to agree to the interview.
What was in the audio leaks?
Jones on Friday published a 30-minute YouTube video that included a mash-up of audio clips purportedly of Kelly explaining why she wanted to feature Jones in an in-depth profile. She can be heard promising Jones that she would be fair and balanced. According to the tape, she said Jones was at the top of her list of “interesting” people she wanted to have on her new Sunday newsmagazine program at NBC.
“All I can do is give you my word and tell you if there’s one thing about me, I do what I say I’m going to do and I don’t double-cross,” she tells him, according to the tape. “It’s not going to be some ‘gotcha’ hit piece. I promise you that.”
Kelly has not confirmed the authenticity of the tape.
Why did Jones release the recordings?
Jones claims Kelly did not stand by her word when she said her segment would not be a hit piece. “She did the opposite of what she said,” Jones told his “InfoWars” viewers Friday. “So I was recording the whole time. We have a record of it.”
Jones said he told Kelly in the interview that he believes Sandy Hook “probably happened.” But he said NBC did not include that soundbite in their promotional piece. Jones has asked the news station not to air the interview "because they’re misrepresenting who I am," he said in a video posted on Twitter.
“Megyn Kelly is a puppet. She is a beautiful woman who the corporate structure uses to push their agenda,” Jones said.
What happens next?
NBC News still plans to air the interview Sunday night, saying it remains "committed to giving viewers context and insight into a controversial and polarizing figure, how he relates to the president of the United States and influences others, and to getting this serious story right,” according to a statement obtained by the Associated Press.
However, Connecticut's NBC affiliate WVIT will not air the interview, the Hartford Courant reported. In a memo obtained by the Courant, the station's general manager and president Susan Tully said they would not air the segment because the wounds of residents after the Sandy Hook shooting are "understandably still so raw."
Jones teased on Twitter that he would “leak more” of the interview during a live radio show Friday afternoon. However, during the show, he walked that statement back, saying he was thinking about releasing more.