Alex Jones has had a strange career.
For example, he interviewed filmmaker David Lynch about his skepticism of the events that took place on 9/11. He chatted with Charlie Sheen, who slammed the creator of CBS’ “Two and a Half Men.” He was arrested while overwriting a Geraldo Rivera segment on Fox News about a Republican senator arrested for lewd conduct in the restroom.
But it’s Jones’ penchant for misinformation that has earned him mainstream recognition. He is also at the very center of Sandy Hook’s libel lawsuit. He is being sued for defamation by the parents of a 6-year-old child who was killed in the 2012 attack after he used his media platforms to loudly proclaim the tragedy was a hoax, including that the families were actors. The family is seeking $150 million in damages.
While his lies about the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy certainly got some media attention, they were actually just a trickle in the river of conspiracy theories he spread through his web show. , “The Alex Jones Show”, and his website, Infowars.
He was a strong believer in the Pizzagate conspiracy theory (the false rumor that Hillary Clinton and prominent Democrats ran a pedophile ring at a pizza parlor in Washington, D.C.), and he falsely claimed there were more homosexuals in the United States because the government ‘put chemicals in the water’.
So how did Alex Jones become Alex Jones? And how did he become the “cross-platform prophet of paranoia”?
Grid used several profiles of his life to compile a list of four key moments that helped define not only who Jones became, but also how he rose to such a high level of infamy (or for those who follow him, just glory).
He learned conspiracy theories from a book on his father’s shelf
Jones was inspired by Gary Allen, whose book he found in his father’s library. Allen was a prominent member of the influential far-right Cold War-era organization, the John Birch Society, according to The New York Times.
“Mr. Jones was inspired, he said, by ‘None Dare Call It Conspiracy’, a 1971 book by Gary Allen which advanced the conservative theory that national decision-making is not guided by elected officials, but by international bankers and politicians,” according to the Times. . “Mr. Allen also sold recordings on the same theme by mail order.
And, as the Times puts it, “Perhaps no one has done more to popularize the idea of a globalist conspiracy than Alex Jones.”
His dad helped him get his first media job with a big following
Jones had moderate success as a public access host, but he got his first real break which put him on the public radar. His father, a dentist, according to BuzzFeed, was cleaning the teeth of the manager from Austin, Texas, spoke on radio station KJFK and mentioned that his son might be a good candidate for a job there.
“He said, ‘My son has ideas, but I think he would be perfect,'” Daryl O’Neal said. “The following week he brought Alex for a meeting.” But to make sure the deal went through, Jones’ father served as his son’s first on-air announcer, according to BuzzFeed.
His commentary and fundraising after the Waco siege changed his status from commentator to far-right hero
In 1993, while Jones was hosting this radio show in Austin, a confrontation took place between federal agents and a religious sect called Branch Davidians. The apocalyptic group, directed by David Koresh, was at a Mount Carmel Center ranch compound just outside of Waco, Texas. The 51-day incident ended with the compound burning down, resulting in 86 deaths – all but four within the Branch Davidians, including Koresh himself.
After the incident, Jones said he believed the group was a peaceful religious organization and was seeking to rebuild a church on the site of the razed compound. He was able to raise $93,000 from listeners for the project.
The act landed him in “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno’s monologue, giving him even more publicity: “Use concrete this time,” the comedian reportedly said. The church incident also made Jones a celebrity among “patriot” militia members.
He mentioned elements of 9/11 before the tragedy happened and used his near prescient words to further perpetuate his government conspiracy theories.
On July 25, 2001, two months before the September 11 attacks, Jones was engaged in one of his usual conspiracy theory speeches on a local public-access channel when he mentioned Osama bin Laden (who had already been linked to bombings at a pair of US embassies in Africa in 1998) and the World Trade Center (which had been bombed in 1993). Jones suggested his listeners call the government and tell them an attack was imminent. “Call the White House and tell them we know the government is planning terrorism,” he said, according to Slate.
On the day of the attacks, according to an interview Jones gave to Rolling Stone, he started his 9/11 show by saying that it was actually the government that had bombed the World Trade Center.
“These were controlled demolitions. You just watched the government blow up the World Trade Center,” Jones said.
His words cost him 70% of his radio affiliates, but they cemented his legacy with the far-right conspiracy theorists who followed him.
Thanks to Lillian Barkley for writing this article.