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John Doyle: Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones on TV: The next level of anti-truth

Even in the annals of the appalling right-wing news antics that characterize Fox News, Megyn Kelly just came up with a doozy. Thing is, she's not on Fox News any more. She's on the mainstream NBC channel.

The doozy is this: On last weekend's Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly, a show just weeks old, the host previewed a segment for next Sunday, an interview with the notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who runs the InfoWars website, radio show and online channel. Jones is a guy who, among other bizarre assertions, has claimed that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax.

There was immediate outrage, of course. Families of the Sandy Hook victims were, understandably, stunned. Kelly soon defended herself. On Twitter she wrote, "POTUS's been on & praises @RealAlexJones' show. He's giving Infowars a WH press credential. Many don't know him; our job is 2 shine a light."

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There's the rub – the President of the United States validated Jones's ghastly theories and opinions and Kelly, no less, is going to "shine a light" on all that. It is implied, then, that shining a light is a good thing, no matter how many people are upset. It's journalism, don't you see?

Nonsense. It's a stunt. Kelly needs Jones to make her new show must-see, and Jones needs Kelly to give him a massive national platform in the United States. That's the truth. See, we don't live in what's being called, ridiculously, a "post-truth era." We live in anti-truth times.

The truth about commercial TV is that it needs eyeballs to deliver to advertisers. The truth about many people who pose as journalists on commercial TV is that they are egomaniacs driven by fame and money.

Given the scale of destruction that Donald Trump, his cronies and lickspittle supporters have launched on truth, we should hardly be surprised by the enmeshing on national TV of Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones. They have both been empowered by Trump and, in particular, by his cockeyed, persistent assertions that what's true is untrue. In this arena, the truth – whether it's the size of a crowd at an inauguration or what former FBI director James Comey says – should only be encountered while wearing a haz-mat suit. It's toxic and it's best to shout and roar condemnation of it.

What it's all about, in general, is power and hubris. If you have power and plenty of hubris, you get to say the truth is a lie. Both Kelly and Jones have hubris by the bucketload. What they don't have is the power of an elected public official. They both look at that fact – even they would acknowledge it as a fact – and envy the reality of it. They want that kind of poundage of power. A way to get there is to combine forces and storm the American public together, both well satisfied with the attention. Combined, Kelly and Jones amount to Trump 2.0.

Jones has a very male kind of hubris as the engine to his rants and lunatic pronouncements. Should you decide to dirty yourself by looking up online what he does, one of the first videos to show up is one of his shows about fighting the "new world order," whatever that is. "The fight against the new world order is a man's game," he declares at the beginning. Interesting avowal, that one.

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Far be it from anyone to speculate on Kelly's inner motivations, but here's a shot in the dark: Having survived and, for a time, thrived in the noxious, male-centric Fox News, where sexual harassment was apparently rife, she wants the kind of power and heft that is generally exclusive to men.

It's certain what her outer motivation is – ratings and notoriety. The claim to "shine a light" is absurd when it involves, as it clearly does, giving time and attention to Jones and allowing him to spout the most insulting garbage. In the preview clip, she admonishes him gently. And he looks well-pleased, as well he might be.

Both Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones have the same intent – pushing this Trump era of anti-truth to the next level. They're shining a light on that, and that's the truth.

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About the Author
Television critic

John Doyle is The Globe and Mail's television critic. His column appears in the Review section Monday to Thursday and on Saturday. He has been the paper's critic since 2000. More

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