I’ll admit that I can’t quite decide how to frame the ongoing Alex Jones versus the world+his ex-wife story.
On one hand, it’s pure comedy gold. Jones and his InfoWars propaganda channel are the very definition of absurd. So the fact that he’s having to sit in court and watch tapes of himself screaming about bisexual frogs, George Soros’ plot to lace the world’s marijuana supply, and how the Democrats were running a satanic child porn ring out of the basement of a D.C. pizza shop that doesn’t actually have a basement, is so fall-in-the-floor funny that I feel like I’d be remiss not to tackle it using the humor angle. And indeed I have. See these recent posts for a good laugh:
- Alex Jones Is A Dope Smokin’, Zebra Eatin’, Pantless Fit Parent
- Call Alex Jones “A Russian” One More Time…
On the other hand, one thing I’ve been keen to note from the get-go is that when Jones’ lawyers told the court that Alex is only “playing a character” and is just a “performance artist,” it said something important about where we get our news. Here’s how I put it last week:
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.
Underscoring this point is the fact that, thanks to people like Jones pushing the #pizzagate lie, one man actually showed up at Comet Ping Pong (the pizza shop) and fired off a rifle. That’s why this type of bullshit is dangerous. That’s why “fake news” is a problem. Because a whole lot of people take it seriously and some of those people act on what they read.
Meanwhile, folks like Alex don’t have to deal with the consequences.
But that’s changing. As we noted on Tuesday, Jones is now being sued by Chobani for defamation. You can that story for yourself, but the bottom line is this: making shit up for a living is quickly becoming a more precarious business model.
What I’ve said since the beginning of the Alex Jones custody battle is that it may mark the beginning of the end for the people who rely on that model. And not just because the profiteers can be sued. But rather because when Jones and his lawyers admit that he’s actually just an actor, it shatters the illusion for his viewers. Confidence is a fragile thing. Once you prove that these populist crusaders are in fact frauds, their followers may begin to second-guess them. It’s a slow process, but I think it’s started.
Well guess what? Now that contention (that the Alex Jones custody battle may mark the beginning of the end for this model) is starting to get more attention. Consider this from VOX:
Alex Jones’ child custody battle has turned into a referendum on “fake news”
The Infowars conspiracy theorist sells “truth journalism” on air — but his lawyers say he’s a performance artist.
In a Texas courtroom, Alex Jones’s persona is on trial.
The conspiracy theorist who counts President Donald Trump among his fans is in the second week of an ongoing custody battle with his ex-wife, Kelly Jones. And at the center of the trial is the question of whether Jones’s on-air shtick is, well, for real.
If you’ve ever watched or listened to Jones’s Infowars (as I have), you’d come away steeped in a dark and distorted view of the world. Jones alleges that 9/11 was “an inside job,” that the Sandy Hook massacre was designed to get Americans to side with gun control, and that there’s a secret fungus epidemic spreading across the country and slowly killing Americans.
These bizarre claims, and many, many others, are often delivered in red-faced rants with Jones’s signature husky rasp. They’re framed, like most conspiracy theories, as truths the mainstream media and elites are hiding from public view. Jones is the bearer of the truth. As his Twitter profile reads, he’s “Fighting for Freedom & Liberty on the Frontlines of Truth Journalism.”
But his lawyers are now telling a very different story in his custody battle: that Jones’s audience shouldn’t actually take him seriously.
They’re building a case that he is merely a “performance artist” and his angry on-air rants are a “character” he plays on radio and TV. According to Austin American-Statesman reporter Jonathan Tilove, who has been following the case closely, the lawyers argue Alex Jones on Infowars is delivering “humor” and “sarcasm.” In reality, Jones is “kind and gentle.”
For all the shirtless (in some cases literally) chest-beating, for all the rants about how much he “likes to fight,” and for all the (literal) threats he’s made to everyone from Hollywood actors to Democratic lawmakers, Jones is actually quite docile. “Kind and gentle,” even.
You can rest assured that the same goes for a lot of the real people that wake up each and every day to bravely man their key boards while donning virtual masks that make them appear, to their readers, to be fearless champions of the populist-kind.
Of course we too use a virtual mask. But guess what? If you met us in the real world, you’d find that we’re the real article. Probably in more ways than you imagined.
We can’t same the same for the alt-Right.
And indeed, Alex Jones can’t even say the same for himself…
Here's Jones just yesterday contradicting his own lawyer, claims he does "satire," adds "I believe everything I'm basically saying" pic.twitter.com/LAVH3S9uv7
— Ryan Gallagher (@rj_gallagher) April 17, 2017
Note that contrary to the caption on that tweet, he’s clearly backpedaling in order to support (if tacitly) the contention his lawyers are making. Watch that again and you’ll see a man desperately trying to keep his audience while simultaneously claiming he’s not batshit crazy.