So is radio and internet star Alex Jones, beloved by President Donald Trump and his “Make America great again” supporters, telling the truth when he says he was lying about telling truths that were a pack of lies? Or is he lying when he claims he was lying about telling the truth, which actually was a pack of lies?
It’s a crazy world when the boy who cried “fake news” wolf the loudest claims he was faking, and his followers probably won’t want to believe him.
Jones is a Texas media star with InfoWars, which includes radio shows on 160 stations, live streams on Facebook and YouTube, tweetstorms, books and movies. He’s a rich blowhard who has perfected apoplectic ferocity so out of whack that it’s way too far out to be considered part of the political continuum. He’s more far-Jupiter than far-right. He makes the old Glenn Beck sound like George Pataki.
Jones has said the federal government lines juice boxes with estrogen to turn boys gay, controls the weather, and faked the Boston Marathon bombing and the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School to justify taking people’s guns. Jones popularized “Hillary for prison” as an idea and a mantra. He rarely spouts a true thing. And he is one of the people who won Trump the election.
But now Jones has a problem. He is arguing in a Texas courtroom that he ought to have custody of his three children, ages 9, 12 and 14. His daily public behavior for the past 20 years, though, suggests it might make more sense to stuff raw chickens in the kids’ mouths and hire a couple of crocodiles to babysit than it does to turn their parenting over to him.
“He’s not a stable person,” his ex-wife, Kelly Jones, said at a recent hearing. “He says he wants to break Alec Baldwin’s neck, that he wants J-Lo to get raped.”
But Jones’ lawyer told the judge who will hear the custody case that deciding whether Jones can be a good and responsible dad to the kids based on his media messages and mien would be like judging Jack Nicholson’s parenting skills based on his rendition of the Joker in “Batman.”
“He’s playing a character,” Alex Jones’ attorney, Randall Wilhite said. “He is a performance artist.”
In December 2015, Trump appeared on Jones’ radio show to thank the host for his support, saying, “Your reputation is amazing . . . I won’t let you down.”
That symbiotic relationship was fostered by a mutual connection, political trickster Roger Stone. I saw Stone and Jones appear together at a Trump rally in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention in July. The views of the Trump fans there were probably more enlightening than the babblings of Jones, who called Clinton “a foreign agent of the Communist Chinese” and riffed on “the globalist program of enslavement,” and Stone, who implied that Clinton had Vince Foster killed.
The attendees, a few hundred, mostly weren’t nuts or mean. They didn’t think Jones and Stone were entirely correct. They just thought these performance artists, and Trump, were . . . right enough, maybe? Or a change of pace?
The world is largely as it seems. Journalists endeavor to find and tell the truth. The government, deeply flawed, is not a huge conspiracy machine. It’s not competent enough to be a huge conspiracy machine, or discreet enough to keep the secret if it were. It’s not clear whether Jones is lying, playing a liar for money or believes himself to be telling the truth.
But as his lawyer argues that Jones’ political posturing is pure performance, those swayed by it ought to pay heed.
Lane Filler is a member of Newsday’s editorial board.