Alex Jones is a conspiracy theorist. While he is not the originator of many of the beliefs he promotes, he is their most visible and audible proponent. His positions range from the ludicrous to the possible, but he approaches them all the same way: heavily emotive, while claiming they are somewhere between likely and certain.
His pseudo-documentary, “Loose Change”, is among the most successful propaganda pieces convincing people that the 9/11 attacks were staged, and that many of the deaths may not have even happened. It is as much a documentary as are Michael Moore’s efforts; all use the technique of lying while using edited video to present conclusions in direct opposition to verifiable facts.
Loose Change merely launched Jones’ career, though. He has continued to grow in influence, mostly through his successful series of radio / video feed broadcasts shown on his Infowars site and related Youtube channel.
He is arguably the most influential political thinker in the contemporary Republican movement. He was invited to the Republican National Convention in 2016 (Cleveland.com). The White House reportedly considered giving him press credentials for their briefings (NY Mag), although Infowars was only ever granted a short-term, lesser credential. His tendency to declare most mass shootings “false flags” and Infowars’ very public display of the temporary credentials given made such a decision politically untenable, and their application was denied.
His collaborator and junior partner at Infowars, Jerome Corsi, was the person who was given the temporary credentials. His book, Killing the Deep State, was a NYT bestseller and promoted heavily on Fox News and “conservative” talk radio. Even the hosts who mock and publicly discredit Jones conveniently ignored the high position at Infowars held by Corsi as they promoted his book.
Still, as one of the earliest national media figures to line up behind Donald Trump due to their agreement on the Obama “birther” movement, Alex Jones was able to have prominent members of the Trump campaign as guests of his show. His efforts to promote “pizzagate” and the Seth Rich murder conspiracy led to both of those being picked up as serious news by some Republican pundits who are treated as credible news sources by many Americans. Other, lesser theories have promulgated throughout the Republican media.
Most of all, his success at labeling everything that rebuts his positions as “fake” served as proof that merely calling any opposing news “fake news” and relying on the listener’s trust could work as a political stance. Alex Jones is the true father of “fake news”, the current mantra of nearly all Republican media.
Now he is getting rebuked.
Jones’ Youtube channel is a strong revenue generator for the site. Between the money he generates for the platform and his position as a very influential political firebrand, they have been hesitant to address his stoking of hate. This is nothing new; Youtube has also been reluctant to take down vitriolic anti-Republican and anti-conservative (classic, not contemporary) videos because they are politically sensitive, but they’ve been willing to restrict things like the tame “PraegerU” videos. Youtube is willing to quell opinions they deem offensive, but they’re usually willing to make exceptions for people whose restriction would generate actual outrage.
On Thursday, however, Youtube banned four Infowars videos from their site and gave him a “strike”. The strike means that Jones is restricted from livestreaming anything to their site for three months. (CNN)
About the videos, from NBC:
All four of the videos were removed for violating the rules of “violent or graphic content,” according to a screenshot of the violations posted by Infowars. Two of the videos featured anti-Muslim content, including one in which Jones claimed that Muslims had invaded Europe. Another was flagged for anti-transgender content in which Jones appeared to threaten transgender people. The fourth showed an adult man and a young boy engaged in a physical altercation under the title “How To Prevent Liberalism.”
The “How To Prevent Liberalism” video seems to have been the trigger point for the latest controversy, as it purportedly shows an adult choking a small child. The content of the other videos is in keeping with standard Infowars material and the material presented by some Democrat groups such as The Young Turks.
Facebook followed suit on Friday by suspending Alex Jones’s personal account for thirty days and is considering removing Infowars and Alex Jones-related sites. (CONSPIRACY – or so they say… a check found that there remain multiple Bill Hicks fan pages easily accessed on Facebook, such as this one.) The reason they provided was that videos linked onto their site violated their standards. (Reuters)
Alex Jones would have you believe that he is on the same level as other Republican pundits, that he is part of “their group” and should be taken as seriously as them. As witness, Jones’ rant, posted on Twitter under “VIDEO: After Banning Alex Jones, Left Calls For Fox News, Steven Crowder And Others To Be Banned”:
VIDEO: After Banning Alex Jones, Left Calls For Fox News, Steven Crowder And Others To Be Banned https://t.co/NSO3UWprN7
— Alex Jones (@RealAlexJones) July 27, 2018
For this to be true, however, Republican pundits and politicians would have to rise to his defense…
Tucker Carlson defends Infowars’ Alex Jones after Facebook suspension https://t.co/528trnt1jX
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) July 27, 2018
..and perhaps invoke the First Amendment as if people’s rights to speak automatically confer upon them the right to speak using another person’s business, provided it’s publicly accessible (it doesn’t, which is one reason you can’t go into, say, a McDonalds and tell all the patrons about how superior White Castle might be). Because Facebook and Youtube made themselves potential arbiters of political speech when they set up their platforms, and every person who uses them clicked the boxes saying they accepted those rules of usage.
Am no fan of Jones — among other things he has a habit of repeatedly slandering my Dad by falsely and absurdly accusing him of killing JFK — but who the hell made Facebook the arbiter of political speech? Free speech includes views you disagree with. #1A https://t.co/RC5v4SHaiI
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 28, 2018
I’m not overstating the case when I call Jones the thought leader of the Republican party. He has his views on what to promote politically and how to promote them. President Trump has taken some of the positions of Jones and all of his methodology. And in order to maintain good standing as a Republican, the lesser lights are expected to dance to Trump’s tune or be destroyed.