If you’re looking to get into a new field of work there seems to be an emerging business opportunity opening up at major corporations across the country. Every large company will very likely soon need a person whose sole job is to monitor which television and radio shows their advertisements air on and match those up against breaking news on social media. Any broadcasts which are deemed too controversial can then be immediately pulled, followed by a corresponding corporate virtue signaling announcement. The latest to come to light is the case of J.P. Morgan, who had to quickly yank their advertising from an upcoming Megyn Kelly interview with Alex Jones, the always controversial host of Infowars. (Wall Street Journal)
NBC anchor Megyn Kelly’s plan to air an interview with right-wing provocateur Alex Jones has caused a firestorm to erupt on social media, but so far advertisers have remained quiet—with at least one notable exception.
J.P. Morgan Chase JPM & Co. has asked for its local TV ads and digital ads to be removed from Ms. Kelly’s show and from all NBC news programming until after the show airs, according to a person familiar with the matter. The company doesn’t want any of its ads to appear adjacent to any promotions for the interview, the person added.
NBC declined to comment.
On Monday, Kristin Lemkau, J.P. Morgan’s chief marketing officer, questioned why Ms. Kelly would conduct the interview. “As an advertiser, I’m repulsed that @megynkelly would give a second of airtime to someone who says Sandy Hook and Aurora are hoaxes,” she tweeted.
— Kristin Lemkau (@KLemkau) June 12, 2017
To be clear, I’d just like to state up front that where, when and how J.P. Morgan chooses to spend their advertising dollars is completely up to them. But with that said, how far are we going to be riding this train of punishing news shows who choose to interview controversial subjects? It’s not as if NBC hired Alex Jones to give him his own show on their network. Kelly is trying to make a big splash and draw the maximum number of eyeballs with her current string of interviews and let’s face it… the name Alex Jones stops people in their tracks and gets heads turning.
And precisely how controversial or awful or whatever other adjective you’d care to employ is Jones? He called himself an entertainer during some recent family court hearings. I don’t think anyone is in danger of seeing a clip from Infowars airing on NBC and mistaking it for the latest item pulled off the Associated Press wires.
In terms of complete disclosure, while I probably hear his name or see some reference to him several times every week, I really don’t know all that much about Jones’ content stream. I’m not a subscriber or regular consumer, and as my wife is fond of saying, I do not sing the songs of his people. I mostly know him from memes and funny sound bites, such as the one which seems to pop up on every podcast or Comedy Central show, where he’s yelling about someone putting something in the water that turned all the frogs gay. (In perhaps the biggest bit of irony of all, it turns out that Jones was pretty close on that one. Some fragrance enhancing chemicals in a number of products have been shown to induce gender dysphoria in aquatic creatures. So they’re not gay, but trans is pretty close, no?)
The point is, I’m aware that Alex Jones frequently takes strolls far past where the buses run in terms of current news. His conspiracy ideas about things like the Sandy Hook shooting being faked are so far out there that they’re not really dangerous so much as a spectacle causing bewilderment in most observers. Of course, those are just the most extreme examples and I have no idea if he actually believes that stuff or just does it to crank up the ratings dial. His network regularly covers other news which turns out to not be crazy at all. (They just found MSNBC trying to pass off an interview with a “random Los Angeles resident” who turned out to be an Obama campaign director.)
So if Jones starts talking about Sandy Hook being faked, or even the moon landing for that matter, I think J.P. Morgan could trust Megyn Kelly to call him out and say that it’s nonsense. Did anyone really need to pull their advertising from this interview? Are we seriously worried that those sorts of ideas will suddenly take hold and swing the next election?