The untold truth of Alex Jones

For those who haven't heard of him, Alex Jones is a radio host, documentarian and extremely controversial political figure.

Since achieving broader popularity in the 2000s as a radio show host after a stint on a Texas public access T.V. call-in show, he's become notorious for his rabid media appearances, claims about a global governmental conspiracy, and the millions of devoted fans he's earned both through his show and his website Infowars. The Southern Poverty Law Center links him most closely with the Antigovernment Movement, which "define themselves as opposed to the 'New World Order,' engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing, or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines."

Not surprisingly, there's a whole hell of a lot going on with this guy.

He hawks dietary supplements

According to BuzzFeed, Jones' website Infowars has been selling merch like T-shirts and DVDs since 2006. In 2013, the site's shop was rebranded as Infowars Life, selling everything from coffee to essential oils, and a complete line of supplements. Jones reportedly bragged in 2013 that the company's store had earned $18 million that year. As Ad Age reported, 2017 offerings include "The Red Pill," (a reference to a pivotal plot point in the movie The Matrix) purported to improve brain functioning and support healthy aging. 

In October 2017, Newsweek shared that the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) had found dangerous levels of lead in two of Jones' supplements and had filed legal notice against Infowars.

He's made controversial claims about multiple American tragedies

Via both his radio show and news site, Jones has used tragic American events like the Sandy Hook shooting, the Oklahoma City bombing, the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the bombings at the Boston Marathon, and the recent shootings in Las Vegas to sprout controversial theories about our government. As the Southern Poverty Law Center's website puts it, "Time after time, he warns without any evidence that terrorist attacks … are actually 'false flag' operations by our government or evil 'globalist' forces planning to take over the world."

As recently as November 2017, according to the New York Daily News, Jones has been spreading the unsubstantiated claim that the events in Las Vegas were orchestrated by Islamic terrorists, and the government and FBI were participating in a cover up because "it's all part of this deal that Trump's got with the Saudis." 

Jones' followers have even gone so far as the harass the parents of children who died during the Sandy Hook shootings (which Jones claims was a hoax). Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose daughter was killed during the shooting, told NPR's All Things Considered, "It interrupts the grief process. It's – the only thing worse than losing a child in a mass shooting in America is having to live the rest of your life defending that she's actually gone."

Waco played a role in his evolution

The FBI's 1993 siege of the Branch Davidians' compound in Waco, TX — which resulted in the death of religious sect leader David Koresh and nearly 80 people — was an undeniably galvanizing event, and the ethics of the government's actions there have been much debated over the years

The tragedy may have also served as a point of origin for Jones' career and ideology. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Jones subsequently dropped out of Austin Community College, and started hosting a call-in show on public access T.V. According to The Seattle Times, Jones later made documentaries about Waco, and a collaborator on the projects told the paper, "Austin at that time became a hotbed of conspiracy theorists and Alex became like the star quarterback… All these conspiracy theorists saw this Waco thing happen and it was kind of game on."

The events at Waco have continued to feature heavily in Jones' political rhetoric throughout the years. Salon explains that Jones has repeatedly accused the government of deliberately murdering Koresh and his followers, and "[i]n 1999, Jones led an effort to build a church in Waco for the remaining cult members, accusing the government of committing murder as a 'cover-up of its violation of the First Amendment.'" 

Infowars also still regularly posts articles espousing Jones' views on the "true" story behind the siege.

Glenn Beck called him a "madman"

As detailed by Gawker in an extensive 2016 play-by-play, Jones has fueled the flames of an ongoing bitter rivalry with conservative TV and radio host Glenn Beck for years. According to Rolling Stone, among Jones' accusations against Beck are charges that the host worked as an "Obama agent," "a CIA operative that helped orchestrate the cover up of 9/11," and that Beck had also stolen Jones' ideas and guests. Jones also reportedly once said that Beck "[is] a mixture of Oprah Winfrey and Alex Jones, all in a big, weird doughy body."

After a particularly unhinged 2013 appearance by Jones on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight (during which Jones berated the host as a "a hatchet man of the new world order"), Beck took to his own radio show to call Jones a "madman." Rolling Stone reported that Beck later said that Jones was "a really spooky guy, and you just have to be careful."

His predictions and claims are pretty wild

On his radio show and website, Jones has wielded his political "powers" to make predictions about future global happenings and also wild claims about the "truth" behind various catastrophes. Per Rolling Stone, some particularly notable recent claims have included (among others): Lady Gaga's Super Bowl halftime show was actually intended to help Satanists take over America; Bill Gates wants to wipe out minorities; and the government is controlling the weather in order to murder people at will. 

Additionally, the Southern Poverty Law Center has collected some of Jones' greatest (failed) prediction hits, like the collapse of at least 15 European nations by the end of 2011; terror attacks on April 15 or 19, 2010; and the devaluation of the  U.S. dollar by 50% by 2012. He also predicted in 2010 that the release of the movie Machete would prompt a race war. 

Okay, then.

He worked with Richard Linklater

Director Richard Linklater is well-known for his films like Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, and the Academy Award-winning Boyhood. Weirdly, Linklater also cast Jones in his films A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life, back when Jones was just an unknown guy ranting on Texas public access T.V.

In an interview with Vice, Linklater justified his decision to feature Jones in his movies, explaining, "I liked his energy, but he was kind of a joke. I got to know him a little bit because he was in Waking Life and Scanner, doing some weird version of himself in both cases." 

Linklater told The Daily Beast in 2017 that he hadn't spoken with Jones since "the Bush-Cheney years. He always positioned himself as anti. So when you're anti, he's your bedfellow." And yet, Linklater, like many of us, is shocked by the extent to which Jones has become a nationally recognized figure, saying, "I would have never thought I'd see the day when the president of the United States knew who [Jones] was… It's crazy, it's insane…"

He's connected to Charlie Sheen

Think back, if you will, on 2011, when Charlie Sheen was having his very well-publicized meltdown (#winning), and got fired from Two and a Half Men after a bizarre rant about the show's creator, Chuck Lorre. The outlet that gave Sheen his platform? None other than Alex Jones' The Alex Jones Show. 

The Hollywood Reporter profiled the show and its creator when Sheen's career was at peak implosion. Back then, Jones was still small-time, with THR describing him as "not mainstream (he has under 25,000 Twitter followers)." Sheen had previously appeared on The Alex Jones Show in 2006 to discuss 9/11 conspiracy theories with Jones (one of the host's major obsessions), noting that "19 amateurs with box cutters taking over four commercial airliners and hitting 75% of their targets….raises a lot of questions…It is up to us to reveal the truth." 

Bizarrely, Sheen was later cast in a much-maligned 2017 movie about 9/11, but apparently kept his opinions on the tragedy to himself during promotion. No word on what Jones thought of the film.

He got into it with Alec Baldwin

No stranger to conflict himself, actor-turned-radio host Alec Baldwin encountered Jones' wrath in 2017. 

It all started when Baldwin, in character as Donald Trump on a March episode of Saturday Night Live, made a crack about Jones' conspiracy theories. Jones responded via his radio show the next day by challenging Baldwin to "get in the ring with me – bare-knuckle" and ranting, "Alec Baldwin thinks he's a tough guy… You coward! I hate you! My listeners hate you, and remember that, scumbag, forever." An avid Tweeter, Baldwin somehow resisted responding.

The following day, Jones released a video apologizing to Baldwin, saying that he'd "only been kidding" (through he still managed to complain about Snoop Dogg and, presumably addressing Baldwin, claim that "you're the people that are violent.") 

He also claimed to be a performance artist

In April 2017, Jones was neck deep in a legal battle with estranged wife Kelly Jones for custody of the couple's three children. Kelly Jones, according to the Austin-American Statesman, described her ex-husband as an unstable person and expressed concerns about his ability to parent responsibly.

In an attempt to defend his client's fitness as a parent, at a pretrial hearing Jones' lawyer asserted that his client was in fact "playing a character…He is a performance artist." As CNN later described, Jones subsequently tried to backtrack on his lawyer's claim, filming a series of videos that insisted on the authenticity of his public persona (presumably to reassure fans).

As the Daily Beast reported, after an outlandish nine-day trial (in which Jones also spoke about how a bowl of chili led to memory loss about details of his children's lives…) Kelly Jones ultimately received joint custody, and the right to decide who the children would live with.

He's worked with Trump

All things considered, you'd think that Jones is the kind of a figure that a presidential candidate might want to take some distance or avoid endorsements from. But If you're Donald Trump circa December 2015, you instead appear on Jones' show to tell him, "Your reputation is amazing… I will not let you down."

During the 2016 election, per the Huffington Post, Jones bragged on his radio show that he was actively acting as an adviser to the Trump campaign, saying Trump "didn't so much do what I told him to do, he already concurred and absolutely was on the same page and was already right there with me or even ahead of me." According to the Austin-American Statesman, Roger Stone, formerly one of Trump's campaign advisors, wrote in his book The Making of the President 2016 that "Alex Jones and his Infowars' umbrella of radio shows, YouTube and Facebook broadcasts, Internet website and tweets turned out to be Trump's secret weapon." And as recently as November 2017, Jones has claimed that now-President Trump repeats "word-for-word" things that Jones tells him.

Despite all of the above, Jones sees his work as a service to the world. In a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, he explained, "People think I'm depressive and angry, but it's the opposite… My life is a love letter to humanity. What the globalists do is a hate letter, a curse."