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Monday, December 18, 2017

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones actually have a fair amount in common. Both have spent the last couple of years denigrating Black Lives Matter, Kelly on her old Fox News show and Jones in a seemingly infinite number of Infowars segments. Both have done their fair share to push fevered conspiracy theories involving the New Black Panthers, a group with a fraction of the KKK’s membership or the alt-right’s influence, but a better fit boogeymen-wise for an audience of white racists. Both Kelly and Jones have leaned into the ridiculous idea that Christmas—a rhetorical stand-in for White America™—is being destroyed in a war waged by godless multiculturalists. And though their styles may differ dramatically, both have made careers out of shamelessly hyping the fears, stoking the paranoia and bolstering the bigotry of the right.

In the flap over Kelly’s upcoming interview with Jones, one fact critics keep missing, or willfully ignoring, is that Kelly and Jones are two sides of the same coin. Sure, Jones arguably says more outlandish things from a position that used to be the far lunatic fringe. But Kelly spent more than a decade doing her own version of the right-wing’s dirty work from within the establishment at Fox News. The difference between Kelly and Jones, at the end of the day, amounts to nothing more than aesthetics. Together, their steady output of garbage has helped expand and thicken our current toxic atmosphere, which is now engulfing and threatening to choke us.

For evidence, just revisit Kelly’s body of work. Remember that she once characterized remarks emphasizing the need for a racially diverse judiciary by then-Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as an example of “reverse racism.” She accused Michelle Obama of perpetuating a “culture of victimization” for publicly relaying a personal experience with racism, and falsely suggested President Obama was going to force communities deemed “too white [and] too privileged” to integrate “whether [they] want it or not.” In one 2015 segment, Kelly wondered aloud if finishing high school and getting a job is “valued in the black communities,” and in another, she derided a 15-year-old black teenage girl tackled by a white cop twice her size as “no saint.” Kelly spent 45 segments relentlessly promoting an absurd conspiracy theory linking the Obama administration and the New Black Panther Party in an anti-white voter suppression effort, suggesting a twin obsession with delegitimizing the first black president and turning a marginal group into a brand-new scary black thing. Also, never forget her insistence that both Santa Claus and Jesus are white, admonishing naysayers that “just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change.”

Kelly’s resume is basically a catalog of her contributions to a culture of white racial resentment, fear of the other, counterfactual thinking, and right-wing paranoia that inevitably gives rise to a character like Jones. To take stock of the cultural impact of Kelly—and Fox News, for that matter—is to recognize the symbiotic relationship she has with Jones and his followers. Alex Jones couldn’t possibly have become a household name without the work Kelly—along with other right-wing mouthpieces like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity—put in for more than a decade at her old job. If Jones doesn’t open their interview with a handshake and a hearty thank-you, Kelly should be pissed.

We’re supposed to buy that Jones and Kelly are not alike, though, which hinges on the idea that Megyn Kelly has changed. The effort to rebrand and reform her image started quietly, gaining momentum ahead of the announcement of her NBC deal. It’s absolutely true that Kelly should never have had to endure years of workplace sexual harassment from Roger Ailes, and neither did she deserve the misogynist bullying from Donald Trump and his supporters that followed her questioning Trump on his long history of… misogynist bullying. But the mainstream assumption that those experiences transformed Kelly into a feminist hero, despite all evidence to the contrary, was misguided. It was also fortuitous, and did a tremendous amount to shift Kelly’s image toward the center.

So did a few of Kelly’s deliberate moves, such as joining a league of vocal Democratic celebrities including Kerry Washington, Emma Watson, Lena Dunham and Eva Longoria on “Lean in Together,” a feminist-lite campaign led by Sheryl Sandberg. Kelly also published a memoir in 2016, Settle For More, that was promoted in press materials that took pains to note she is “respected by… Republicans and Democrats” and has “fans across the political divide.” Atlantic contributor Caitlin Flanagin cites an NPR interview in which Kelly state she’s interested in the “relative lack of power of certain minority groups and the fear they’re feeling in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.” It’s an interesting area of attraction for Kelly, given that it runs counter to nearly everything she’s ever done.

The subtext of Kelly’s interview with Jones is more of the same. The idea is to put Kelly in a seat of judgment over someone whose ideas are so abhorrent and despicable, so clearly wacked-out, that her background is virtually erased by osmosis. In a statement aimed at taking the heat off after outrage erupted around the interview, Kelly stated that her “goal in sitting down with [Jones] was to shine a light—as journalists are supposed to do—on this influential figure.” Except that the best way to illuminate how horrific and irresponsible Jones’ cult of personality is would be to interview those he’s harmed the most—the parents of children who were murdered in the Sandy Hook mass shooting, who have been pleading with Kelly for weeks to drop this whole thing.

Infowars reached 4.5 million people between May 16 to June 14 according to Quantcast, while Jones’ radio show attracted millions more. Jones’ audience extends far enough that he’s come to the attention of yogurt behemoth Chobani, which sued Jones and won a retraction. A few months prior, Jones bowed to public pressure and apologized for promoting a bizarre conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria, a notion that attracted a nutjob with an AR-15 rifle. Jones claims mass shootings at Sandy Hook, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Brussels and Boston were “false flag” operations. He says 9/11 was an inside job and believes antidepressants in the oceans are making shrimp suicidal and chemicals in the water are making “the friggin’ frogs gay.”

Jones may well be in need of something—a mental health intervention, anger management classes or a new best friend. But what he does not need is access to a wider audience, especially since the president is one of his biggest fans. During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump called into Jones’ radio show and praised the host as “amazing,” promising “I will not let you down.” Now Infowars has White House press credentials and the president’s ear.

“Have you seen how the president sounds just like me?” Jones said on a recent episode. “Have you seen how Stephen Bannon sounds just like me? Have you seen how the whole paradigm’s globally shifting and you can’t hold it back?”

This is who Kelly is helping. As one Sandy Hook parent noted, it is especially cruel that Kelly’s interview with Jones will run on Father’s Day. But the clear priority here is ratings, since Kelly’s viewership is already down 42 percent since her show’s debut. It’s the same old Kelly, despite all the efforts to convince us otherwise. “I have no mea culpa to offer,” Kelly—who Newsweek described as “soulless, heartless, shameless, avaricious”—recently told the Daily News when asked if she felt any contrition for all the damaging crap she’s spewed. “I had the number one show in all of cable news in the demo (advertiser-friendly viewers 25-to-54 years old).”

None of that matters to the Sandy Hook families, who fear Jones’ interview will set off a retraumatizing set of events.

“We have been harassed repeatedly by people who we call hoaxers that think this hasn’t happened,” Cristina Hassinger, the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, the school principal, told the New York Times. “When there is going to be such a widely available interview with attention given to one of the hoaxer ringleaders, it is going to unleash the trolls on us tenfold all over again.”

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

12 Responses to Megyn Kelly And Alex Jones: Two Peas In A Pod

  1. Megyn and Alex—An apocalyptic yin-yang combo. It’s a rarity to see a woman as a apologist for racism and spewing racist garbage on such a consistent level as Megyn—Anne Coulter is in the same category though. Alex is already well-established as a rabid die-hard racist with lunacies that even Rumi wouldn’t have anticipated when he wrote the line in his Mathnavi poem—“In him are lunacies seventy-and-two”.
    As for Megyn, she represents an anomaly perhaps stemming from living the privileged life of a sheltered “African” with light complexion—the skin coloration warping Megyn’s mind extensively.
    To have one’s name juxtaposed with Alex Jones in the same sentence of an article as two sides of a coin is beyond humiliating, but she doesn’t care.

  2. They are both trolls of power in different roles! Confusion preachers!
    Alex Jones tells the truth in many hoaxes and false flags produced by the “system” for various reasons and agendas; and at the same time makes himself ridiculous and antithetical on minor issues! His voice is unbearable to hear!
    Megyn addresses fools mainly! The majority! There is NO content in what she says! She is just polemical and farcical at best!
    Putin had a good time with her!
    I had a good laugh with a Cold War Wodka and Jack Daniels mélange! !
    She was so ludicrous representing American Intelligence! Jeeezes!

    In this specific Alex Jones episode she is praising him to better frame him or so she hoped! He smelled the rat! Easy!
    In the end nothing is clear!
    This is the time and realm of unscrupulous charlatans bringing us back to a sort of hi tech middle-age feodality destroying all scientific rationale and methodology!
    The mind is gone! Hourrah for the believers of this mess!

    • Alex Jones tells the truth?

      Snort of derision.

      Under oath, the guy’s admitted that he’s an entertainer and makes no claim to veracity in anything he says.

      • And you believe him on that one. He is on defense on that one.
        The system is after him and you along, sheep!

        No one is obliged to incriminate himself! Even under oath dude!
        Human rights! Remember???

        Galileo admitted the world was flat and that the sun went around it under menace of torture and Pyle!
        With some institutional pressure a lot can be done.
        Waterboard your brain once in a while.
        You might start thinking further than what you are being fed by MSM!
        Hopefully. You are guilty of misusing it!
        Even the worst liar and charlatan can tell the truth.
        It happens here in front of our very eyes all the time! Follow my smile!

        • Lying under oath carries serious penalties in the USA. Treat Mr. Jones the silly entertainment he is.

          Also don’t believe everything you see on the X Files TV show.

          • Sloppy answer with NO intellectual method or content! Forget it!
            Hopeless dichotomy is all you can dish out!
            You will get the war you dream of with Russia and it will be their fault! Goody for MIC.
            And crush Europe of course! History business as usual. TY.

          • Since you’ve defined intellectual method as agreeing with you; but of course.

            I do not want a war with Russia. But their actions in Crimea, Ukraine, and threats to the Baltic States, do worry me. So yes, if protecting people from Russian Imperialism is wrong in your opinion. So be it. Protecting Europe is my goal.

          • You are just regurgitating stupid US propaganda based on crude and rude provocations against Russia to make it react!
            Unfortunately they just sneer at you big bullies and rightly so! Ridicule has a limit, sir!
            Look at a map of the world with all the military bases everywhere and decide who is the last of the Imperialist State and most powerful!
            The State spending 22 % of the budget of its sucker people like you on fear and war mongering all over the place ad nauseam.

            I told you you would find Russia & Russians guilty!
            They are the chosen enemy.
            You are as shallow as a Deep State Swamp. But large!
            You are in the Catch 22!

          • You really should pay more attention to news and less to the lunatic raving star of Alex Jones. Russian Times is also not a good source of unbiased information.

            Ask your parents or grandparents about the Russian threat to the world. Ask Poles. Ask the Hungarians. Ask the Chechs. Ask the Estonians, Latvians, or Letts.

            Deep State, indeed. Another snort of derision.

            You really are too funny. I couldn’t write a better parody.

          • I have talked to intelligent Poles who would not touch a 10 foot Hungarian which I hosted too along with Estonians, Latvians and Lettons as well as Ukrainians and Russians.
            They all pretty much do not care and think that Vladimir is doing his job well. NATO is not an obsession to them.
            Only MIC propaganda gives you the opposite story.
            Of course they are powerful and pernicious! Are you?

  3. Back to Alex Jones and Megyn. Alex is not an anomaly insofar as the trend in America is concerned. More and more, the GOP, the Extremists who have learned to harness the power of the media,
    Trump, the Kochs, FOX, Ailes, are just to name some of the most egregious examples, all of whom have set the tone and atmosphere for misfits like Alex and Megyn to spring forth from the cesspools of depravity, like mosquitoes emerging from a scummy pond.

    Something terribly amiss has become of the path of evolution taken by so many in Europe, Russia, China, N. Korea, America, and elsewhere. Opinions differ greatly among many as to the genesis of this aberration in behavior of such a large mass of human society. Some say it’s the economy, others the displacement of so many as a result of natural disasters and wars, apartheid-like conditions in major areas, gradual depletion of resources, diminished quality of water and scarcity of food, and CLIMATE CHANGE.

    I and fellow Baha’is throughout the World Baha’i Community would say that these examples are outgrowths of a deeper malignancy. Namely, a lack of a common spiritual compass, lack of a renewed sense of ethical values like altruism, empathy, reciprocity, and overemphasis on our material well-being while stifling or ignoring altogether our spiritual nature. Instead of these qualities, which emanate and are sustained by “VIABLE” Religious institutions, the absence of such result in the symptoms seen today.

    Since there are no clergy in the Baha’i Faith, and since I can only speak from my own experience and as an individual Baha’i, I can’t dictate to you how you should think. But I will feel obliged to relay a different perspective, to rebuke what I feel are callous and mean-spirited sentiments directed against others in this forum, and refute what I perceive as vain imaginations which only inflame rather than improve our situation.

    I’m just a squirrel trying to get some acorns.

  4. The man is an insane, principle-free, greedy pig.
    It’s no wonder he and President Snowflake get on so well together.

    He also admitted in court that he’s a liar, and acting a role.
    Not that facts ever mattered to his moron listener-ship.

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