All press is good press, so the saying goes. Alex Jones, host of the ultraparanoid and ultraconservative Infowars, is quickly becoming the internet's favorite person to lampoon. Truthfully, Jones does make it quite easy. While it's all fun and games to satirize Jones's outlandish beliefs, in reality, his theories are dangerous - and they have outsize influence. Earlier this month, Time referred to Jones as "Donald Trump's favorite conspiracy theorist."
Based in Austin, TX, Jones got his start on a public-access cable show, on which his bombastic character made him popular from the onset of his career. By 2001, Jones's radio show The Final Edition was syndicated on more than 100 stations. In addition to hosting a radio show, Jones disseminates his conspiracies on his website Infowars, which is largely considered a fake news source by the left and the right. Many of Jones's claims are easily disproved, but given the advent of "fake news," it's also easy for Jones to excuse criticism as such.
What exactly does Jones believe? Let's explore a smattering of his most absurd theories and his penchant for theatrics.
1. He has long claimed that 9/11 was orchestrated.
Jones's most popular conspiracy is that 9/11 was "an inside job." Alleging that then-President George W. Bush planned the World Trade Center attack to further his agenda and impose further control on citizens, he's also claimed that the CIA planned the tragedy with Osama bin Laden, who Jones believes was a CIA operative.
"All terrorism that we've looked at from the World Trade Center to Oklahoma City to Waco has been government actions. They need this as a pretext to bring you and your family martial law," Jones said on the Sept. 11, 2001, broadcast of his show. "They're either using provocateur Arabs and allowing them to do it or this is full complicity with the federal government. The evidence is overwhelming."
2. He speculated that the Sandy Hook massacre might not have happened.
Disturbingly, Jones has argued that the shooting that left 20 schoolchildren and six adults dead was a homeland security drill. Jones has been widely criticized for his theory and his cruelty to the memory of the children killed that day - including by the victims' parents. Jones has also posited that it was staged so the government could strip citizens of their right to bear arms.
3. He pushed the discredited theory that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue.
Jones backed the now-proven-false conspiracy that Planned Parenthood was profiting from abortions. Activists entrapped Planned Parenthood employees and released what was perceived to be evidence that the nonprofit was, indeed, selling fetal tissue.
ok i have no words for this one. zero pic.twitter.com/x4wKeWaDZ4
- ▀▀▀▀▀▀ (@immolations) November 5, 2016
4. He believes weather can be weaponized.
After a 2013 tornado killed 24 people in Oklahoma, Jones argued that the government might be responsible through various aircraft propellants. Citing a flood in Texas, Jones claimed it was the Air Force that caused the incident. "We had floods in Texas like 15 years ago, killed 30-something people in one night," Jones said. "Turned out it was the Air Force."
5. He claimed that Hillary Clinton was operating a child sex ring out of a DC pizza restaurant.
Nicknamed #Pizzagate, Jones was responsible for circulating the erroneous claim that Hillary Clinton and other Democratic party members were operating a child sex trafficking ring out of restaurants across the country. Pointing to what he described as coded messages in John Podesta's leaked emails, Jones alleged a specific pizza restaurant in DC, Comet Ping Pong, hosted the ring. On Dec. 16, one of Jones's listeners drove from North Carolina to the restaurant he named to "self-investigate" the situation; the man was armed with an AR-15.
Jones has since apologized for spreading the theory, however, it's difficult to say whether he actually is sincere or merely regrets that someone was driven to violence because of his theory.
You're probably thinking Jones's claims are too ridiculous to be believed, but alas, they are not. A Rolling Stone profile of Jones estimated his radio show draws more listeners than Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck combined. But that was in 2013, and Jones's clout has increased exponentially since then: he's apparently captured the president's attention more than once. And if Pizzagate is any warning, Jones's listeners are not a passive bunch.