After two weeks of breathless headlines and social media outrage (both authentic and faux), last night’s Megyn Kelly interview with Alex Jones finally arrived and … eh? I didn’t actually watch it live, because I didn’t want my cable service to believe I was supporting the decision to interview Alex Jones, but I jumped online during the interview and followed along on Twitter as it aired and … it was mostly crickets. There were very few tweets, and nothing of note.
I did later watch portions of it on YouTube, and while Kelly did a decent job of denunciating Alex Jones, the interview itself felt kind of empty, broken up with clips and background information on Jones’ history of nutcasery. There’s only about 5 minutes of interview footage in the 17 minute segment, and it’s notable mostly only for the fact that Jones appears to be sweating the entire time. Was it worth it, Kelly? Huh? Huh?
Point being: While there was a fear that Megyn Kelly was somehow introducing Alex Jones to mainstream America, the millions of people NBC (and the rest of the media) must have been expecting to tune in didn’t materialize. It was seen by only 3.5 million overnight viewers, less than a rerun of America’s Home Videos in the 18-49 demo. Worse still, NBC didn’t even add the interview to YouTube until 11 a.m. EST today, long after anyone had decided to care about the interview, so it received very little social-media lift.
In other words, the interview created very little noise, and for Megyn Kelly, ratings for the episode were not much more than what she received nightly on Fox News. Seems like Megyn Kelly stood out on Fox News, where she was one of few women, and the only primetime presence who was not completely friendly with Donald Trump. She was a lightning rod on Fox News. Polarizing. Divisive, because she dared to occasionally go against the company line. But in the rest of the news ecosystem, Megyn Kelly isn’t special. Not in an environment where she has to compete outside of the Fox News bubble with the likes of Katy Tur or Rachel Maddow or Jake Tapper or Joy Reid or Maggie Haberman. Now she has to re-earn her credibility with more mainstream audiences, and with her interviews with Alex Jones and Vladimir Putin, she’s not doing herself any favors.
Indeed, after weak ratings last night, NBC has to be sh*tting itself about the prospect of making Megyn Kelly the future of NBC News. Remember, they booted Tamron Hall and Al Roker for her? How are you feeling about that decision now, NBC?