Sandy Hook families threaten legal action against NBC

Stephen Battaglio
Los Angeles Times

New York — Several of the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have threatened legal action against NBC if it airs Megyn Kelly’s interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has called the 2012 massacre a hoax.

In a letter to NBC News executives obtained by the Los Angeles Times, a law firm representing the families says the network is inflicting harm on them by presenting the views of Jones, a right-wing internet radio host and founder of the website Infowars, even though the network knows they are false.

The legal threat is the latest headache in what has become an escalating public relations fiasco for NBC, which is trying to launch Kelly as its newest star after poaching her from Fox News Channel.

Meanwhile, Jones is promising to further complicate matters by posting his own recording of the interview on Infowars.

NBC News has not commented on the letter or Jones’ claim that he will air the interview on his site.

Jones is known for saying the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting, which killed 26 people including 20 schoolchildren, was staged in order to promote tougher gun control laws.

“Airing Ms. Kelly’s interview implicitly endorses the notion that Mr. Jones’ lies are actually ‘claims’ that are worthy of serious debate; and in doing so it exponentially enhances the suffering and distress of our clients,” said the letter from Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, which was sent to NBC News Chairman Andy Lack and other executives at the network.

Kelly and NBC have been under fire from critics and the Sandy Hook families ever since a tightly edited teaser of the interview aired on “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly” this week. Some TV news competitors have said that NBC has hurt itself by promoting the segment with Jones’ inflammatory statements.

“The tease got them in trouble — that’s always been the way,” said Chris Cuomo, a co-anchor of CNN’s “New Day” and a veteran of network Newsmagazines.

Kelly and Lack have defended their decision to air the Jones interview.

The former Fox News anchor said she finds Jones’ “suggestion that Sandy Hook was ‘a hoax’ as personally revolting as every other rational person does.” But Kelly felt compelled to sit down with him to learn how someone who promotes outrageous conspiracy theories has a following of millions of people, including President Donald Trump.

According to a person familiar with the production of the story who is not authorized to comment publicly, Sandy Hook families are also being interviewed for the “Sunday Night” story. “The interview is part of a larger piece about (Jones). It’s not the only part,” the person said.