UPDATE: NBC News anchor Megyn Kelly on Tuesday defended her upcoming interview with the conspiracy theorist and Infowars host Alex Jones, saying in a statement that she sat down with him "to shine a light" about the "considerable falsehoods" he peddles.
Families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, have vocally objected to giving a platform to Jones, who has previously asserted that the massacre that claimed 26 lives was concocted by the government. They also criticized the planned airing of the interview with Jones on "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" as being in poor taste because it coincides with Father's Day.
"I find Alex Jones's suggestion that Sandy Hook was 'a hoax' as personally revolting as every other rational person does," Kelly said in a statement. "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 that Jones has been elevated by praise from President Donald Trump, who has appeared on his show and granted his outlet White House press credentials.
"Our goal in sitting down with him was to shine a light — as journalists are supposed to do — on this influential figure, and yes — to discuss the considerable falsehoods he has promoted with near impunity," Kelly said.
She also said that she respects the decision by the nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise to drop her as the host of its Promise Champions Gala on Wednesday night 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 and managing director of the organization, said in a statement. Hockley's 6-year-old son, Dylan, was killed at Sandy Hook.
For Immediate Release: SHP's Statement on Megyn Kelly https://t.co/HP4EglsPy5— Sandy Hook Promise (@sandyhook) June 13, 2017
Kelly said Tuesday that she is "of course disappointed that I won't be there to support them." Here is her full statement:
Here is my statement regarding Sunday night’s interview: pic.twitter.com/iS2VfyLt6S— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) June 13, 2017
Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose 6-year-old daughter, Ana Grace, was killed at Sandy Hook, told The Associated Press that giving Jones a wider platform would only encourage his followers to harass her further.
"You can't just put him in a box and say he's just a character," Marquez-Greene said. "He's really hurting people."
In a preview of Kelly's interview with Jones, she asks the far-right radio host if he considers himself a paranoid person.
"Absolutely not," he responded. "A paranoid person would be hiding out in their house, not venturing out in public. I go out there in the street and battle Black Lives Matter, the communists at point-blank range."
He also called the 9/11 attacks an "inside job" and said the Sandy Hook shooting was "complex."
When Kelly asked him about his falsehood that the Sandy Hook parents faked their children’s deaths, as he claimed in the wake of the rampage, he changed the subject.
"That’s not a dodge," Jones said. "The media never covers all the evil wars it's promoted."
"That doesn't excuse what you did and said about Newtown," Kelly said. "You know it."
"I looked at all the angles of Newtown and I made my statements long before the media even picked up on it," he said, adding that the issue that people should be concerned about are “animal-human hybrids.”
The early outcry over the interview prompted JPMorgan Chase to drop its ads surrounding the show's airing and has created a storm on social media.
JPMorgan Chase'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.
But Liz Cole, the executive producer of "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly," asked that critics look at how the entire interview is presented on TV.
Jones is "a controversial figure, but as journalists, it's our job to interview newsmakers and people of influence no matter how abhorrent their views may be," Cole said. "Until you see the full program, in proper context, I would withhold judgment."
PREVIOUS STORY: By PAT EATON-ROBB
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The families of some Sandy Hook shooting victims are angered that NBC is airing an interview by Megyn Kelly with a conspiracy theorist who has claimed the massacre never happened.
Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose 6-year-old daughter, Ana Grace, was among the 26 people killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, said Monday that she fears the NBC interview with "Infowars" host Alex Jones will encourage other conspiracy theorists who have harassed her and accused her of being part of a hoax.
"Any time you give someone like Alex Jones a platform, their followers will double-down or increase their attack on grieving families," Marquez-Greene said. "You can't just put him in a box and say he's just a character. He's really hurting people."
The interview by Kelly, who formerly worked at Fox News, is scheduled to air Sunday, which is also Father's Day. On Twitter, Kelly responded to criticism by noting that President Donald Trump has praised Jones' show and by saying it was her job to "shine a light."
An NBC representative had no immediate comment.
The interview comes in the wake of a guilty plea last week of a Florida woman who threatened a father of one Sandy Hook victim. Lucy Richards, who had cited the hoax theory in her threats, was sentenced to five months in prison.
A year ago, a New York City man was sentenced to probation after approaching a sister of slain Sandy Hook teacher Victoria Soto during a charity road race and angrily claiming the shootings never took place.
Soto's family says Matthew Mills was a follower of Alex Jones. The family expressed their anger with NBC and Kelly in a Facebook post.
"Alex and his followers have done nothing but make our lives a living hell for the last 4 1/2 years," they said. "This incessant need for ratings at the cost of the emotional well-being of our family is disgusting and disappointing. You should be ashamed of yourselves for allowing this behavior."
The harassment of Marquez-Greene has included a woman asking her on social media if she had actually sold her daughter to a child-trafficking ring. Another man asked to see pictures of Ana Grace's dead body as proof the shooting actually happened.
Marquez-Greene said Kelly should at least give Sandy Hook families equal time on her show and promote some of the charity work they've been doing to remember the lives of their loved ones. She said the media also need to learn to honor the families' grief.
"There are two things people need to grieve in a healthy way, and that's a sense of safety and a sense of control," said Marquez-Greene, who is a licensed family therapist. "Having this buffoon on her show really interferes with both of those."
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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