CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker says “Info Wars” host Alex Jones is decidedly newsworthy.
Zucker dropped his take on the matter on Thursday amid widespread criticism surrounding Megyn Kelly’s upcoming NBC interview with Jones. The CNN boss said he thinks NBC, the network, is to blame for the backlash.
“I think the issue here is the way that [NBC] has thus far presented it,” Zucker said. “If you’re going to do this story, the tease needs to be you holding up a picture of dead kids from Sandy Hook and saying, ‘How dare you?'”
Zucker spoke to reporters on Thursday morning during a breakfast in New York to celebrate the fourth anniversary to the CNN’s morning show “New Day.” The CNN boss pointed to a photo of Kelly and Jones in a car together that has circulated on Twitter to promote the interview. Zucker called the marketing decision “unfortunate” and doesn’t think anyone should judge the interview until they actually see it.
“They’ve done themselves no favors,” Zucker said of NBC, where he worked from 1986 until 2010.
“New Day” co-anchors Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota were also on hand at the breakfast, and Camerota admitted she is interested in how Jones can justify his “sickening philosophies” if Kelly holds him accountable.
Camerota said the “complete responsibility” is on the interviewer handle the situation like prosecutor when dealing with someone like Jones and “really hold his feet to the fire.”
When Kelly previewed an upcoming interview with Jones last Sunday night, critics immediately expressed concern that NBC is giving the conspiracy theorist a platform. During the 97-second preview, Jones calls the attacks of Sept. 11 an “inside job,” questions the legitimacy of the shootings at Sandy Hook and says, “30 years ago, they began creating animal-human hybrids. Isn’t that the big story Megyn Kelly should be doing?”
Camerota and Zucker agreed with their boss that the marketing and promotional photos of Kelly appearing chummy with Jones haven’t done the network any favors. She said the tease that ran last Sunday didn’t indicate whether or not Kelly was planning on holding Jones accountable for his claims.
The “New Day” co-anchor said that if she were interviewing Jones, she would call out the fact that his attorney called his on-air persona an act during a recent court hearing.
“You’re acting,” Camerota said she would respond if Jones made an outrageous claim.
Cuomo said he has no problem with NBC giving Jones a platform as long as Kelly handle the interview properly. He suggested that Jones has a big fan base and the situation would be much worse if a journalist wanted to elevate someone without a following to make them relevant.
“When you’re dealing with someone like Alex Jones… the President of the United States has lauded him and supported his efforts, a least in part, the relevance is built in,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said that if CNN were receiving the “heat” that Kelly and NBC have received for a controversial interview, the first step to combat the negative attention would be to simply release the transcript of the interview — which NBC has not done.