Alex Jones is a documented liar whose conspiracy theories have long since crossed the line from ridiculous to dangerous. But not only does he have millions of listeners, he also has the ear of Donald Trump.
So, yes, he's newsworthy.
I completely sympathize with the parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, who have urged NBC not to air an interview with Jones in the upcoming edition of "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" (Sunday, 7 p.m., Ch. 5).
Among Jones' more heinous acts — and there have been a lot of heinous acts — is his ongoing effort to not only claim that the murders of their children were part of a hoax perpetrated to promote gun control, but to personally attack the victims' parents.
Think about that and consider that the current occupant of the White House has embraced Jones.
The parents make a strong point when they argue that giving Jones any kind publicity is a terrible thing. That it could help him build his popularity.
But none of us have seen Kelly's interview with Jones. And it is fundamentally unfair — and un-American — to ban a news story before it is broadcast or published.
Kelly and NBC will be doing a service if this turns out to be a hard-hitting interview that exposes Jones for the liar he is. That exposes how dangerous he is.
Not an unfair hit-piece. That's not necessary. Just laying out the facts of what Jones has said and done and asking him to defend his actions would be completely fair.
(Not that such a piece will discourage all Jones' followers. We live in an age when facts don't seem to matter.)
But the clips of the interview that NBC has released don't instill confidence that this is the case. Kelly's history on the Fox News Channel doesn't instill confidence that she's up to the task. Or that she has the inclination to take Jones on.
News organizations should not succumb to outside pressure and pull stories. But, at the same time, I'd like to think that there are people at NBC News whose news ethic is strong enough that they'd pull this Kelly-Jones interview themselves if it's not what it should be.
But it's impossible to shake the nagging feeling that this is all about TV ratings and promoting NBC's newly acquired "star" and not about journalism. Kelly's new show is already struggling in the ratings, and NBC has to be worried that it has made a bad investment in the former Fox News Channel host.
Hopefully, shining a light on Jones — which Kelly insists is her goal — will make it clear exactly who and what he is.
Hopefully, we'll all be surprised. Hopefully, on Monday we'll be talking about what a great job Kelly did.
I honestly hope I'm wrong, but I don't think that's going to happen.