AUSTIN, TEXAS–On the fourth day of his custody trial, InfoWars host Alex Jones sandwiched stories of his children in between soliloquies on zebra meat, Cancun, Stephen Colbert, Chinese elk, marijuana, and–because every conversation in Austin must include at least one mention of this–breakfast tacos. That was all before lunch.
The day started as any other child custody trial might, with painfully intimate details laid bare. Jones recounted family vacations (Cancun and the Caribbean) and taking his son hunting (zebras and elk). He complained of the irresponsibility of his ex-wife, Kelly, who is trying to gain custody in the trial, and her reckless driving. His attorneys also tried to head off a key opposition strategy: linking Jones' private life to his celebrity. When asked whether he takes work home with him, Jones said: "I don't want to think about work when I get home. I like to eat hamburgers and swim in the pool."
"I don't want to think about work when I get home. I like to eat hamburgers and swim in the pool."
Jones continued that when he parents, he displays "none of the bombasity, none of the rage" as seen on InfoWars. Yet Jones' attorneys themselves played two audio clips that appeared to show his conspiratorial tendencies rubbing off on Kelly–and possibly their children. In one, Kelly grew enraged at an arbitration hearing, complaining her lawyer had agreed to the custody terms without her consent: "I protest. My constitutional rights have been violated … I will get justice! This has all been arranged by big money interests. It's an abomination." In the other, their children asked Jones if some of Kelly's accusations were real: "Is it true that you bought off the courthouse and Donald Trump is doing all this?"
Jones, who enjoys a massive online audience, had been legally barred from addressing media reports about his lawyers' claims he is a "performance artist" on InfoWars; Judge Orlinda Naranjo had issued a gag order instructing both Joneses not to discuss the trial outside of the courtroom, and while Jones testified, she repeatedly warned him to answer the question asked of him, without further commentary. Despite the gag order, on Tuesday Jones put out the video "Alex Jones Responds to Claims He Is an Actor." He took the opportunity to address the reports again Thursday, grumbling about Stephen Colbert making fun of him and claiming that while Colbert, John Oliver, Bill Maher, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh "play characters to illustrate points," his show is 90 percent hard news.
Once the cross-examination started, the tone changed. Bobby Newman, Kelly Jones' attorney, posed his first question: "Have you had any chili this morning?"
"Is that a serious question?"
Apparently it was, because the two spent the next several minutes doing battle over Jones' admission in a prior hearing that he was unable to remember the names of his children's teachers because he had recently eaten a big bowl of chili. (Thursday, Jones ate breakfast tacos.)
Newman next asked about Jones' alcohol and marijuana use.
On alcohol: At times Jones said he enjoys two drinks a day but "it makes me fat so I try to cut back." Newman showed the jury a short InfoWars clip of Jones bragging, "I don't do this anymore, but I can drink an entire jug of Jack Daniels and not show it." He followed it up with a video of Jones' seemingly drunk before the DeploraBall on President Trump's inauguration night. Jones denied he was intoxicated.
On marijuana: Jones admitted he smokes weed annually to monitor its strength because "that's what police do. They smoke it once a year too." Smoking marijuana is illegal in Texas. A marijuana rant then followed: Jones said his practice of smoking marijuana annually led him to believe it is too strong, but should be decriminalized. The campaign for legalizing marijuana however, Jones said, is "a very dangerous program where George Soros has basically brain-damaged a lot of people."
The testimony moved at a glacial pace. Every few minutes, Alex Jones' attorneys would object to a Newman question, and they'd hold a muted sidebar with the judge. A jury member doodled on her notepad.
"I don't do this anymore, but I can drink an entire jug of Jack Daniels and not show it."
Once he was done grilling Jones on drugs, Newman moved to a different vice. He spent at least an hour trying to establish whether Jones' then-fiancee had advertised sex work under the fake name Anja, and whether after his fiancee (now wife, eight months pregnant) had moved into his house, Jones had maintained a lengthy sexual relationship with another woman. Jones eventually confirmed the latter. The strategy seemed designed to undermine Jones' credibility and bait him into losing his temper, and Newman's manic style appeared to bother Jones, who mostly restrained his responses to exasperated head shakes, deep sighs, and stares.
That was until, towards the end of his six hour testimony, Jones apparently couldn't take it anymore. Newman described an incident in which Jones' son did not follow through on a scheduled visit with Kelly, which Newman blamed on Jones, and Jones blamed on Kelly. Jones started yelling at his ex-wife's attorney, red in the face: "You sit here and twist things. I've never seen anything like it in literature or the movies or TV."
Then: "You have won the award. No decency. Zero."
Newman shot a smirk at a colleague; he had managed to break through to show the jury the InfoWars version of Alex Jones in person. (How any other attacked parent might do in the same situation remains unclear.)
The tension in the room was broken by an unlikely source, the court reporter: "Can we take a break?" During the break, Jones huddled with his attorneys, teetering back and forth on his heels. He muttered, "This is the worst day of my life."
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