Here’s something that, on the surface, doesn’t seem like it’s worth highlighting. In fact however, it’s pretty important for what it says about the alt-Right blogosphere.
I’ve argued on any number of occasions that popular alt-Right sites prey on the uneducated by pushing conspiracy theories and other off-the-wall memes in a relentless quest for page views. Over the past several years, many of these sites have displayed a perceptible bias towards Russian interests.
To be sure, this was problematic long before it ended up influencing election outcomes. It’s exploitation – plain and simple. The model is based on a 24/7 clickbait cycle. And that’s actually not that big of a deal until the clickbait starts to be infused with real news and propaganda. Because then what you have are hybrid sites designed specifically to conflate propaganda and clickbait with real news and thereby add a veneer of legitimacy to what is otherwise simply a shameless attempt to get rich off of gullible folks’ clicks.
One of the most successful profiteers in this increasingly popular corner of the web is Alex Jones. I profiled one of his latest and “greatest” (scare quotes are intentional) rants earlier this month in the hilarious post “Call Alex Jones A Russian One More Time…”
Well as it turns out, Alex Jones doesn’t really believe anything Alex Jones says.
Which of course isn’t surprising to anyone who is sane.
But here’s the thing: there are millions of people who take him seriously. And that’s why the following from The Hill is not only worth noting, but actually worth writing an entire post about. To wit:
Infowars founder and host Alex Jones is “playing a character,” his lawyer argued during a recent custody hearing surrounding his three children.
“He is a performance artist,” Jones’s attorney, Randall Wilhite, argued to a Texas judge, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman.
Jones, a supporter of President Trump, is the owner and operator of popular websites Infowars.com and PrisonPlanet.com. He is best known for pushing unfounded conspiracy theories, including that the U.S. government was behind the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
He also claims U.S. moon landings were faked and that the government faked the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting using actors.
He also pushed the “Pizzagate” conspiracy that maintained Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and campaign chairman John Podesta were operating a child sex trafficking ring run out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. Months after supporting the false claim, Jones apologized.
Jones is battling his ex-wife, Kelly Jones, for custody of their 14-year-old son and two daughters, aged 12 and 9.
“He’s not a stable person. He says he wants to break Alec Baldwin’s neck. He wants [Jennifer Lopez] to get raped,” Kelly Jones said in court, according to the American-Statesman.
“He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching him broadcast.”
Over the next two weeks, a jury will be asked to ascertain if Jones’s on-air persona is different from his off-air persona, and if he’s fit to be a parent.
Several segments from Jones’s show has been played to the jury.
The alt-Right is littered with this type of blatant hypocrisy.
Most of what you read from Breitbart and its progeny is written by folks who are well aware that what they are saying is patently absurd.
But that’s not what matters to them. What matters is your click. Which in turn pays for their houses. And their luxury sports cars.
That, in a way, is just capitalism. And in that respect it’s fine. But when the falsehoods they’re pushing are presented in a way that makes them appear to be news and when those same falsehoods start involving dead Syrian children and influencing elections, well then we have a problem.
My advice would be to make like Kelly Jones and “divorce” those sites.
[Aside: yes I’m aware of the inherent irony in this post appearing on a site penned by an anonymous author. But anyone who reads HR will tell you that this isn’t about deception and/or clicks. It’s about truth. If the clicks come, fine. If not, fine. I’m going to be here regardless. And I can tell you that if you ever meet Heisenberg in real life, you’ll find that I’m always "in character” so to speak]