Multiple advertisers have told NBC that they don’t want to be anywhere near Megyn Kelly’s forthcoming interview with controversial media personality Alex Jones.
NBC expects the advertiser flight to be temporary, however.
“This comes with the territory,” NBC News chairman Andy Lack told CNN Tuesday. “We kind of know, when we’re doing controversial stories, that’s going to happen. It doesn’t stop us from doing controversial stories.”
NBC declined to say how many advertisers have distanced themselves from Kelly’s new show “Sunday Night.” Most of them are on the local level, meaning companies that bought ads on NBC-owned stations.
NBC expects there will be a full slate of nationally televised ads on Kelly’s show this Sunday, despite the controversy.
As for the companies that have withdrawn, “they’ll all be coming back, they’ve been clear about that,” Lack said Tuesday.
Only one of them, J.P. Morgan Chase, has been identified publicly. While the company has declined to comment, the Wall Street Journal reported that the bank asked for all of its ads to be removed from “all NBC news programming until after the show airs.”
The bank’s chief marketing officer Kristin Lemkau tweeted: “As an advertiser, I’m repulsed that @megynkelly would give a second of airtime to someone who says Sandy Hook and Aurora are hoaxes.”
Kelly interviewed Jones last week. Jones, the leader of Infowars, purports to have millions of listeners and readers. He presents an extreme right-wing view of the world and espouses baseless and offensive conspiracy theories. One of them is that the Sandy Hook massacre could have been a “false flag” operation to win support for new gun control measures.
NBC executives say Kelly repeatedly challenged Jones in the interview. The story about Jones is still set to air this weekend on “Sunday Night,” despite calls from some politicians, media critics and Sandy Hook families to scrap the segment.
Lack said, “we’re listening very carefully to folks and we understand their deep feelings about it.”
But at the same time, Jones and what he represents is “an important story; he’s a serious story,” Lack added.
Lack and Kelly answered questions while attending the Mirror Awards in New York on Tuesday afternoon.
Kelly acknowledged that she was surprised by the severity of the backlash to the interview.
Odious figures like terrorists, serial killers and child molesters have been interviewed on television before, she said, “and there hasn’t been this kind of backlash.”
“What I think we’re doing is journalism,” she added. “While it’s not always popular, it’s important.”
Kelly made the case that she’s not elevating Jones — “he’s been elevated by five or six million viewers or listeners, and by the President of the United States. As you know, journalists don’t get the choice over who has power or influence in our country.”
President Trump was interviewed by Jones during the 2016 campaign, and he reportedly thanked Jones for his support after winning the election.
Kelly also released a statement on Tuesday defending the interview after the Sandy Hook Promise organization removed Kelly as the host of its gala in Washington, D.C. this week.
“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,” she said.
Speaking with CNN, Kelly did not seem concerned that high-profile guests might snub her show in the future as a result of the Jones controversy.
Lack, speaking separately, said other news outlets were also pursuing an interview with Jones at the time Kelly was.
“’60 Minutes’ was chasing it,” he said, referencing the CBS newsmagazine that “Sunday Night” goes head-to-head against.
The story that will air on Sunday is still in production, Lack said, and it will reflect critics’ concerns about giving Jones airtime.
On Monday, pop singer Selena Gomez stopped by Z 100’s studio and did an exclusive interview with well-known radio host Elvis Duran (for his show Elvis Duran and The Morning Show). During the interview, Selena discussed several hot topics, including her show 13 Reasons Why, her new music and her mental health.
While discussing the newfound balance she has found in her life, Selena gushed, “I think it’s important to balance out where I am. I’ve been doing this for a really long time. My sanity has meant everything to me.” The songstress went on to acknowledge that she has cut back on traveling due to how inherently tough it can be on her health and wellbeing. The “Bad Liar” singer explained, “I haven’t really been all over the place recently, and it’s intentional. I am very empathetic so sometimes traveling can be hard for me.”
Body image issues have long been an issue in Hollywood, particularly for young stars like Selena. However, the Revival artist assured Elvis that she is not allowing herself to fall into any unhealthy habits. Selena told the radio host, “If anyone told me to go on a diet, I don’t think they would be working with me anymore.”
The underlying reason that Selena took the time to pop by the Z 100 studio was to promote her latest hit single, “Bad Liar.” However, the songstress is already planning to release yet another track very soon. She revealed, “[My] second single is even more surprising than “Bad Liar.” I was playing it for my friends last night and it’s so fun…I can’t [talk too much about it], but it’s really exciting!”
While Selena was happy to discuss her latest career ventures, she remained tight-lipped when asked about her beau The Weeknd. When Elvis brought him up during the interview, the only response he managed to get out of Selena was, “I’m very obvious when I talk about my feelings for somebody.”
The latest superhero blockbuster, Wonder Woman, has been taking over the headlines ever since it hit theaters. Along with record-breaking ticket sales, the big budget movie has been earning ample praise from critics and Hollywood stars. In its second week at the box office, it topped the box office charts again, pushing Tom Cruise and his Mummy to the second spot.
On Friday, TV personality Katie Couric playfully posted a video to her Twitter page, which featured Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot challenging actor Chris Hemsworth (who plays Thor) to a superhero duel. In the video, Gal says, “Now they asked me who would win, Wonder Woman or Thor? And I think it’s Wonder Woman. Don’t you, Chris?” The next day, Chris replied to the tweet, candidly admitting, “I think [Wonder Woman would] kick Thor’s a**.” Appreciative of Chris’s honesty, Gal responded, “I always knew you were a smart guy. But I think it’s worth a fight – we should collide worlds.”
Wonder Woman is continuing to reign supreme in the box office. In fact, media outlet The Hollywood Reporter just recently released an article about the film’s incredible success. In the article, THR reported that the film grossed over $122 million in the US and $233 million internationally over the weekend. This is a huge accomplishment for the female-driven film, which was directed by Patty Jenkins.
To date, Wonder Woman has grossed $445 million worldwide. Pretty amazing for a film project that has been sidelined many times over the decades in Hollywood.
Oliver Stone visited Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” Monday night and had to answer some tough questions. The director has gotten some heat recently for his four-part documentary about Vladimir Putin — “The Putin Interviews” — which airs in one-hour installments on consecutive nights through Thursday. If the glimpse so far is any indication, the Oscar winner lobbed a lot of softballs at the Russian leader and took the dictator’s words at face value.
Colbert, on the other hand, was a ruthless interrogator. In a short clip that ran before the interview, Putin claimed his country would never interfere in another country’s domestic affairs, to which Stone responded, “Thank you, sir. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
Colbert pressed Stone on the moment, wondering why he didn’t push harder.
“You have to be polite,” Stone insisted before throwing in some other facts to bolster his argument: It was a two-year deal, and Putin is a very busy man.
“But no follow up on that question?” Colbert asked. “That doesn’t seem like an interview, that seems like an opportunity for him to merely propagandize.”
Stone insisted the fourth hour will be more hard-hitting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and film director Oliver Stone in the four-part documentary “The Putin Interviews.”
The interview got more awkward from there, especially when the audience started revolting against Stone’s earnest responses.
When Colbert asked what about the documentary is most surprising, Stone responded, “I think devoted to his country, and I’m amazed at his calmness, his courtesy — he never really said anything bad about anybody and, I mean, he’s been through a lot. He’s been insulted and abused …”
At this point, groans and incredulous laughter started rising in the audience.
“Abused by the press, in the media,” Stone clarified, which only turned the smattering of laughter into a louder roar.
The director was distracted but seemed resolved to press on, even after Colbert asked if there was anything — anything — negative Stone would say about Putin. “Or does he have your dog in a cage someplace?” Colbert asked, prompting whooping and clapping.
“What is wrong with detente with Russia?” Stone asked, seemingly frustrated. “Why would you be against it? I don’t understand this mentality.”
But this is an oppressive leader, Colbert insisted, one who suppresses freedom of the press. Given Stone’s staunch views about free speech, it seems odd that he has so much compassion for a man accused of killing adversarial journalists.
“Listen, no question, he’s a social conservative,” Stone said.
“I don’t know why you’re laughing,” Stone said, fed up.
“Because it seems like a mild description,” Colbert explained.
Stone got the chance for one final plug for the documentary, promising plenty of questions about the American election, if only people will sit “patiently” through the four hours.
Maybe that fourth hour really will redeem him. But then he added: “Has [Putin] murdered a man? I wouldn’t know how to ask him that question. I’ve looked at the evidence, too, and if I believed it, I’d go after him.”
Hmmmm. Colbert probably had plenty of retorts, but time was up. They’d just have to agree to disagree.