Alex Jones of InfoWars has developed an incredible following for his show and site, where he often promotes some of the most bizarre and extreme conspiracy theories. Even President Trump is a fan. But if Jones’ lawyers are to be believed, Jones is just a “performance artist” and his InfoWars persona is just a “character.”
Jones is fighting his ex-wife, Kelly Jones, for custody of their three children. According to Kelly, Alex Jones really is as maniacal as he seems in his many public outbursts. “He’s not a stable person,” she said. Over the next two weeks, a jury will decide whether there are two Alex Joneses — and whether it matters.
Kelly argues it doesn’t, and she doesn’t want her children around him. “He broadcasts from home,” she explained. “The children are there, watching him broadcast.” She shared with the court a 2015 clip of Alex when he had their 12-year-old son on the show to share some videos the son had made with help from the InfoWars team. Alex called their son a “good little knight who’s going to grow up, I know, to be a great fighter against the enemy.”
But Jones’ lawyer, Randall Wilhite, told the court, “He’s playing a character. He is a performance artist.”
One of the clips Kelly urged the court to consider was Alex’s recent rant against Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), in which he called Schiff “the archetypal cocksucker” and a “fairy, hopping around,” before threatening violence against the lawmaker. “You want to sit here and say that I’m a goddamn, fucking Russian. You get in my face with that I’ll beat your goddamn ass, you son of a bitch. You piece of shit. You fucking goddamn fucker…You got that you goddamn son of a bitch? Fill your hand.” John Wayne famously said, “Fill your hand,” in the film True Grit to a man he was about to shoot to kill.
A few days after this explosive rant, Alex claimed that he meant “no violence against Mr. Schiff” and that his remarks were “clearly tongue-in-cheek and basically art performance, as I do in my rants, which I admit I do, as a form of art.” What he was actually trying to do was confront Schiff with “truth.” “When I say, ‘I’m going to kick your ass,’ it’s the infowar. I say every day we’re going to destroy you with the truth.”
This suggests that if Alex Jones is actually taking on a character, he and that character actually believe all of the same things — unlike, say, Stephen Colbert’s satirical character from The Colbert Report. The only distinction between them would then be tone and delivery, and it’s not one that Kelly Jones thinks matters, especially if the kids are seeing their father deliver the rants at home.
One of Alex Jones’ biggest fans is President Trump. In 2015, Trump told him, “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.” Unsurprisingly, Trump has peddled many of the conspiracy theories that Jones either originates or magnifies, such as Trump’s belief that there were over three million illegal votes cast in the 2016 election or that thousands of Muslims were cheering in New Jersey on 9/11.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2015
Jones has also suggested that the Sandy Hook mass shooting was a hoax. Erica Lafferty lost her mother in that shooting and has called on Trump to disavow Jones for his conspiracy theories, but Trump has never responded.
And though Jones claims to be nonviolent, his conspiracy theories have actually inspired violence. He was one of the primary trumpeters of “Pizzagate,” the claim that Hillary Clinton and some of her closest aides were operating a pedophilia ring out of a pizza shop in Washington, D.C. called Comet Ping Pong. After Jones recommended his listeners personally investigate, one of them followed through and showed up at the restaurant with a rifle, which he fired. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Jones later apologized for reinforcing the bogus story.
Over the next two weeks, a jury will consider whether Alex Jones is fit to be a parent of the three children he fathered with Kelly Jones. In the meantime, Alex has remarried and his new wife is expecting a child any day now.
UPDATE: In a clip on Saturday, Jones claimed that what he does is “satire,” admitting, “I believe everything I’m basically saying; I believe in my message.” It’s sarcastic when he talks about blowing the planet up, but he stands for most everything else he says.
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