Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of InfoWars is currently engaged in a legal battle with ex-wife Kelly Jones over custody of their three children. Here’s five things you need to know:
1. Alex Jones’ Lawyer Said Jones’s InfoWars Persona is “Performance Art”
Jones is famous – or perhaps infamous – for declaring that most mainstream media stories are “fake news,” or that well-known terrorist attacks and other atrocities are actually “false flag” events orchestrated by the government as an excuse to grab more power or impose further restrictions on people.
A partial listing of conspiracy theories or “false flag” events Jones has promoted include: the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida was a “false flag terror attack”; the 2012 mass murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was “synthetic, completely fake, with actors”; the series of tornadoes which devastated parts of Oklahoma in 2013 happened because “of course there’s weather weapon stuff going on—we had floods in Texas like 15 years ago, killed 30-something people in one night. Turned out it was the Air Force”; the attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City earlier this year was a “false flag”; the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was a “false flag” intended to discredit conservatives; the 2015 mass murder at a church in Charleston, South Carolina was a government plot intended to discredit conservatives and start a race war so the government could then impose martial law; and, of course, the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a false-flag inside job.
However, as the Austin American-Statesman reports, Jones’ attorney Randall Wilhite told the judge at a pretrial hearing that Jones’ behavior in such instances should not be taken to mean that’s what Jones is actually like, either as a person or a father, anymore than Jack Nicholson should be judged based on how he performed while playing the Joker in “Batman.”
“He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said about his client. “He is a performance artist.”
Whether or not Jones believes the theories he promotes on InfoWars, President Donald Trump is an admirer of his; during a 2015 interview Trump gave to InfoWars, he told Jones “Your reputation is amazing.” In other contexts, Trump has also said that “the fake news media” is “the enemy of the people.”
2. Jones’ Ex-Wife Says His Conspiratorial Persona is the Real Thing
Despite Wilhite’s claim that “Alex Jones, conspiracy-peddling InfoWars host” is merely a character, Kelly Jones’ claim for custody of their children is based on the argument that the angry conspiracy theorist is the real Alex Jones.
“He’s not a stable person,” Kelly Jones said at the pretrial hearing, according to the American-Statesman. “He says he wants to break Alec Baldwin’s neck. He wants J-Lo to get raped. … He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching him broadcast.”
Alex and Kelly Jones’ three children – a 14-year-old son, and two daughters aged 9 and 12 – have lived with Alex ever since he and Kelly divorced in 2015. Kelly is fighting for either sole of joint custody.
3. Jones’ Reputation is Making Jury Selection Difficult
On April 17, the American-Statesman reported that Alex Jones’ reputation is making it difficult to find impartial people to serve on the jury for the Joneses’ custody case.
Of the 60 or so people initially called in for jury duty in Travis County, Texas, at least 30 said they were familiar with InfoWars and 13 admitted they’d find it difficult to fairly judge the man whose own lawyer called him a “provacateur.”
Wilhite told potential jurors that his client’s “performance art” entails taking what some might call “outrageous positions,” and that Alex Jones’ InfoWars persona is “powerful and aggressive and strong and takes strident positions on controversial issues.”
4. There’s Debate Over How Much InfoWars Content Will be Used at the Trial
While Alex Jones’ lawyer argues that “Alex Jones, InfoWars host” is merely a performance-art character who has no impact on “Alex Jones, father of three,” Kelly Jones’ lawyer Bobby Newman is trying to argue the opposite: that the InfoWars host is the real Alex Jones. Much of the courtroom back-and-forth thus far has been over how much InfoWars content can be used as evidence in the custody trial.
The American-Statesman reports that District Judge Orlinda Naranjo, who is overseeing the case, said at a pretrial hearing that “This case is not about Infowars, and I don’t want it to be about Infowars.”
She also said that she had not seen or heard any of Jones’ InfoWars commentary until last week’s hearing, when Kelly Jones’ lawyers started showing InfoWars clips they hope to present to the jury. One clip Naranjo saw was from a July 2015 broadcast where Jones’ son, then 12 years old, played various videos produced by members of the InfoWars team. In that clip, Jones said to an about his son: “He is undoubtedly cut out for this, and I intend for him to eclipse what I’ve done. He’s a way greater person than I was at 12. I love you so much, and I didn’t mean to get you up here, sweetheart, and tell people how much I love you, but you’re so handsome, and you’re a good little knight who’s going to grow up, I know, to be a great fighter against the enemy.”
Judge Naranjo decided that clip may be shown to the jury. However, she rejected the next clip showing a discussion between Jones and Trump confidant Roger Stone about Congressman Adam Schiff’s investigation into Trump’s alleged Russian ties. The American-Statesman described Jones’ commentary there as “an expletive-studded, gay-bashing rant” directed at Schiff. (In an InfoWars broadcast a few days after InfoWars aired the initial Jones/Stone discussion, Jones himself described his anti-Schiff rant as “clearly tongue-in-cheek and basically art performance, as I do in my rants, which I admit I do, as a form of art.”)
The Jones v. Jones jury will not be shown the anti-Schiff InfoWars rant.
5. Jones’ Detractors say His “Persona” Ruined Their Lives
Leonard Pozner’s six-year-old son Noah was one of the 20 children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 — or, for believers in Alex Jones’ “false flag” conspiracy theories, one of the “crisis actors” working for the United States government to fake an atrocity in order to generate support for stronger gun-control laws.
On April 17, after news broke that Randall Wilhite argued in court that Jones is merely a “performance artist” who is “playing a character,” Pozner told the Daily Beast that if Jones’ defense is true, his performance art has destroyed far too many lives, including his own.
“I wish I could be there in the courtroom to stare him down to remind him of how he’s throwing salt on a wound, and so he can remember how he handed out salt for other people to throw on mine,” Pozner said.
In a February 16, 2017 post on his blog, Pozner reprinted an article which begins as follows:
“If there is anything worse than losing a child, it is losing a child and having people taunt you over the loss. That is what happened to the family of Noah Pozner, a 6-year-old with tousled brown hair and lollipop-red lips, the youngest of the 26 children and staff members gunned down in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School …. In the years since the massacre that shook the country and opened new anxiety over gun violence, the family has received hate-filled calls and violent emails from people who say they know the shooting was a hoax. Photos of their son — some with pornographic and anti-Semitic content — have been distributed on websites.”
Yet despite the tacit admission of Jones’ legal team that Jones himself doesn’t believe the conspiracy theories he espouses, Pozner told the Daily Beast that he doubts many InfoWars fans will stop believing. “No, of course not. This is how they’re going to hear it: ‘The message is important, the conspiracies are real. I act like a lunatic because it gets people’s attention.’ That would be my guess,” Pozner said. “Alex is going to say something like, ‘Well, the conspiracy message that I’m delivering is important. My on-air personality that screams, shakes fists, makes animal noises? That’s part of my animated persona.”