By Jon Herskovitz
(Reuters) - NBC's Megyn Kelly defended her heavily criticized interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones by saying at the start of the Sunday broadcast of her program that the man who called a 2012 Connecticut school massacre a hoax has the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump.
"Some thought we shouldn't broadcast this interview because his baseless allegations aren't just offensive, they're dangerous. But here's the thing: Alex Jones isn't going away," she said on "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly."
"He has millions of listeners and the ear of our current president," Kelly said.
NBC is owned by Comcast Corp.
The interview prompted indignation, especially in Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in 2012. The local NBC affiliate in Connecticut that serves the area where the shooting took place refused to air the interview.
Jones, founder of the website Infowars, has questioned what he calls the "official story" of Sandy Hook and suggested a political cover-up took place. Although his theory has been discredited, people who believe Jones have harassed and taunted families of the victims.
Kelly said Jones never completely disavowed his previous statements about the killings being a hoax.
"I tend to believe that children probably did die there. But then you look at all the other evidence on the other side. I can see how other people believe that nobody died there," Jones said.
Kelly, who gained prominence as an anchor at Fox News, joined NBC this year. Her show made its debut on June 4.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas)