It’s been a bizarre past couple of days for NBC News. The network and its star Megyn Kelly have received criticism for the decision to interview radical far-right conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones for an episode of Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly set to air this weekend. Jones is perhaps best known for pushing a conspiracy theory that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre “was a hoax.” JP Morgan Chase has taken its ads off of the program, and Kelly has been dropped as host of the Sandy Hook Promise fundraiser, which ironically was supposed to take place tomorrow night.
Kelly and NBC News chairman Andy Lack were among the NBC Newsers present at Syracuse Newhouse School’s annual Mirror Awards held today at Cipriani in New York, where Tom Brokaw was honored with the event’s signature award: The Fred Dressler Leadership Award.
Kelly (and Lack) had no qualms about speaking with media reporters this morning. We briefly spoke with Kelly before the event. She’s a bit surprised by all of the negative backlash she has experienced from the decision to conduct the interview with Jones. She stands by the story, and truly thinks people will get a lot out of it.
We were told that as of now there are no plans to remove her interview with Jones from this week’s episode.
NBC News correspondent Jenna Bush Hager was “mistress of ceremonies,” at this year’s Mirrors, and The New York Times and Brokaw were the main honorees. The Times won Newhouse’s I-3 award, which represents “impact, innovation and influence.”
There was an extensive video tribute to Brokaw before his speech. A number of TV newsers and media personalities made cameos in the video, including Andy Lack, Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Lester Holt, Andrea Mitchell, Bob Dotson, Dan Rather, Anderson Cooper, David Muir, Bob Costas, director Steven Spielberg, and Discovery Comms CEO David Zaslav.
Lack introduced Brokaw, and recalled his own arrival at the network right after the infamous 1993 scandal that rocked Dateline NBC. “Tom held NBC News together in its worst moments. Folks thought NBC News might crack if it weren’t for the heart and soul of Brokaw,” Lack said. “After over 25 years, Tom would go on to cover all of my bets, all of my insecurities, all of my inexperience, and for that, I am so grateful.”
An avid outdoorsman, Brokaw took the stage adorned in an orange “hunting hat” (orange in honor of Syracuse’s school color). Speaking about the current media climate, Brokaw said “I don’t think there’s ever been any year or any era over the course of my career that I remember the rules of the game being under such assault…we are seeing the most profound and pernicious threat to our democracy. That threat is fake news.”
Brokaw also recalled that when he first started, “the news was dominated by white males who grew up on the east coast. But gratefully, as this room reflects, that has changed and this has become a multicultural business and we’re richer for it.”
Another award of note at this year’s Mirrors was the John M. Higgins Award for Best In-Depth/Enterprise Reporter. New York Magazine‘s Gabe Sherman won the award for his work covering the late Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.