Today's unlikely cast of characters: an embatttled conspiracy theorist (Nos. 1 and 2), a prominent fan of said conspiracy theorist who also happens to have access to the nuclear codes (No. 3), a devoted but possibly increasingly nervous servant of that fan (No. 5), an embattled broadcaster (Nos. 1 and 2), and, of course, a wedding planner (No. 4). Anyway, let's get started ...
1. Oh dear. So this happened last night:
In brief: Rob Dew is the "news director" for Infowars, the radio show and website led by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who is the subject of a controversial, heavily hyped segment slated for inclusion in this weekend's "Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly" on NBC. It turns out that when Kelly was trying to convince Jones to sit down with her, apparently over multiple phone conversations, he was secretly recording her -- and also recorded her interviewing him once he agreed to the sit-down.
Last night, the Infowars gang was clearly relishing their "gotcha" moment. Dew tweeted this a couple hours later:
And then overnight:
The response in medialand to what Kelly said to Jones has been ... let's just say not good for Kelly. For instance, in a post this morning headlined "Megyn Kelly Exposed by Alex Jones in Leaked Audio Recordings," The Daily Beast's Tom Sykes writes,
While it is common practice for journalists to engage in a bit of sweet talk to land a big interview, some of the gushing audio Jones has recorded will be humiliating for Kelly. ... Probably the most awkward clip for Kelly will be when she tells Jones: "I will personally promise to look at any clips we want to use of you, and have a producer run by you, whether we are taking it in context, what you are saying."
Jamil Smith of MTV News makes a good point (!):
For its part, NBC News has been issuing a canned statement to the media this morning:
Despite Alex Jones' efforts to distract from and ultimately prevent the airing of our report, we remain committed to giving viewers context and insight into a controversial and polarizing figure, how he relates to the president of the United States and influences others, and to getting this serious story right. Tune in Sunday.
2. By the way, right before all of this started to go down last night (note the 7:24 p.m. ET timestamp on Rob Dew's first tweet shown above), Page Six's Emily Smith published an "exclusive" story, at 7:18 p.m., headlined "Megyn Kelly completely overhauls Alex Jones interview." It begins,
Megyn Kelly has completely overhauled her Sunday night show featuring Alex Jones, inviting Sandy Hook families on the program and editing her interview with Jones to be tougher on him, following all the backlash this week. NBC News execs were scrambling following the furor over Kelly's decision to give a platform to the controversial Infowars host, who claimed the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax. A contrite Kelly personally called the Sandy Hook families, we're told, to invite them on the show to counter Jones' rhetoric.
3. Let's check in briefly with the president of the United States (an Infowars fan), shall we?
After 7 months of investigations & committee hearings about my "collusion with the Russians," nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
The Fake News Media hates when I use what has turned out to be my very powerful Social Media - over 100 million people! I can go around them— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
Despite the phony Witch Hunt going on in America, the economic & jobs numbers are great. Regulations way down, jobs and enthusiasm way up!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
4. Trump family values:
5. Meanwhile, the vice president of the United States is lawyering up: "Pence Hires Criminal Defense Lawyer to Aid Him in Investigations," per The New York Times.
6. "Rumors are swirling inside Time Inc. that the company is looking at four magazines as selloff possibilities: Coastal Living and Sunset -- as a unit -- and maybe Health and Golf," Keith Kelly writes in his "Media Ink" column in this morning's New York Post.
Kelly's been on a tear the last couple of days serving up grim news about media companies -- including digital media companies. See also: "Pulitzer Prize winner among HuffPost layoffs in wake of merger" and "'Deep web' publication lays off 22 in shift to video,'" about Vocativ.
7. And finally, the Twittersphere is busy having fun this morning with the news that Amazon is buying Whole Foods:
"I just spent my whole paycheck on Whole Foods." —Jeff Bezos— J.R. McGrail 📎 (@JRMcGrail) June 16, 2017
Feel sad for the mom and pop $6 asparagus water sellers that are gonna lose so much of the market share now that Amazon bought Whole Foods.— Maris Kreizman (@mariskreizman) June 16, 2017
Amazon reportedly spent $13.7 billion at Whole Foods today, and they still had to stop by Safeway to get everything on their list...— Tommy Tighe (@theghissilent) June 16, 2017
Whole Foods, who packs a month's supply of food in a single grocery bag was bought by Amazon, who ships a paper clip in a refrigerator box.— Marie Connor (@thistallawkgirl) June 16, 2017
Bezos: "Alexa, buy me something from Whole Foods"— Jeff Lewis (@ChicagoPhotoSho) June 16, 2017
Alexa: "Buying Whole Foods"
Thank you to Brian Braiker, Ann-Christine Diaz, George Slefo, Laurel Wentz and Chen Wu for their roundup suggestions.
Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.