Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is just playing a character on his popular Infowars broadcast, according to his lawyer.
The question of whether or not Jones believes the myriad conspiracy theories he espouses daily or is simply putting on a performance has become an issue in a custody hearing between Jones and his ex-wife. Kelly Jones, who has been divorced from Alex Jones since 2015, is suing in Texas court for partial or sole custody of their three children.
According to an Austin American-Statesman report on the pretrial hearing, Jones attorney Randall Wilhite said that inferring Jones’ character based on his Infowars broadcasts would make as much sense as judging Jack Nicholson based on his performance as the Joker.
“He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said of Jones. “He is a performance artist.”
The judge, Orlinda Naranjo, said the case would not be about Infowars, which she said she had never seen or listened to until last week.
Infowars is one of the most popular conspiracy websites on the Internet. Among other claims he has advanced, Jones has suggested that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job perpetrated by the American government, that aspects of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre were faked, and that a Washington pizzeria was the headquarters of a pedophile ring involving Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta. (Jones later apologized for his role in the “Pizzagate” theory after a frequent Infowars listener who said he was investigating the charges fired off shots inside the restaurant.)
Jones claims to have the ear of President Trump, and Trump the candidate did partake in a 30-minute interview with Jones in December 2015. Trump incorporated a few of Jones’ favorite theories into his campaign stops, including a riff on how the California drought was a hoax.
“Your reputation is amazing,” said Trump to Jones during the conversation. “I won’t let you down.”
Jones’ wife is saying there’s no difference between her former husband and the on-air personality who has threatened to beat up both actor Alec Baldwin and California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff in recent months.
“I’m concerned that he is engaged in felonious behavior, threatening a member of Congress,” said Kelly Jones during the pretrial hearing, per the American-Statesman. “He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching him broadcast.” Jones’ children are aged 14, 12 and 9.
Jones said his comments about Schiff — whom he called a “goddamn son of a bitch” earlier this month — were “clearly tongue-in-cheek and basically art performance.”
One of Jones’ latest theories actually involves children — the children of former President Barack Obama. On Friday’s edition of Infowars, he sat down with Mike Cernovich, the alt-right conspiracy theorist whom Donald Trump Jr. recently suggested should win the Pulitzer. Via Media Matters, Jones said, “The word is those aren’t even his kids,” in reference to Malia and Sasha Obama, to which Cernovich replied, “I’ve heard that too.”
Journalist Jon Ronson, who has known Jones for nearly two decades and chronicled him in Them and The Elephant in the Room, told Yahoo News that he didn’t think there was a difference between the performer and person.
“I’ve been talking to people close to Alex, and they have expressed surprise,” said Ronson in an interview with Yahoo News. “They’ve said to me, ‘That’s not the Alex I know; Alex is exactly the same off camera and on camera.’ When I went to visit him in the summer, I noticed he was exactly the same off camera to on camera.”
He added, “Even 20 years ago at Bohemian Grove, there wasn’t an ‘on Alex’ and an ‘off Alex.’ He was always the same. I honestly think the Alex you see on TV is Alex.”
Beginning Monday, a jury will be selected at the Travis County Courthouse to sort out whether there is a difference between the public Jones and private Jones, and whether, when it comes to his fitness as a parent, it matters.
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