If you’ve spent much time on the internet, you’ve probably encountered American talk radio host Alex Jones.
Footage of the presenter working himself into a patriotic fervour or ranting wildly about the latest “Deep State” outrage on The Alex Jones Show regularly goes viral, often collected into montages and set to thumping house music.
Mr Jones, resembling an irate raspberry in such moments, remains one of the American alt-right’s most popular and charismatic figures, commanding an audience of 70m fans (he says) who can’t get enough of the conspiracy theories he peddles on air, on his YouTube channel or via his websites InfoWars, NewsWars and Prison Planet.
Some of his most deranged include: the fear that the Robert Rodriguez grindhouse thriller Machete (2010) could start a race war between Mexicans and Americans; that the government controls the weather; that Michelle Obama is really a man; that Hillary Clinton being able to open a jar of pickles on Jimmy Kimmel’s chat show was fixed; that Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl half-time show enacted a Satanic rite; and, most famously, that the Pentagon has a “gay bomb”, chemicals from which it has allowed to leak into the water supply turning “the friggin’ frogs gay!” Let’s hope Pepe’s OK.
Mr Jones is regularly carried away by his own linguistic flair, working himself up into a blaze of fury. Check out his out-of-control encounter with Piers Morgan - a man he, quite understandably, petitioned to have deported – on the question of gun control in which he predicts a 1776-style revolutionary uprising should the government attempt to take the rifles of ordinary hardworking Americans.
At times, Alex Jones can be oddly endearing, regardless of your personal politics. Channelling the spirit of a Bible-pounding Texan evangelical preacher, his rhetorical flourishes are sometimes inspired.
In one deliciously surreal clip from his show, he is seen holding up a giant pair of white Y-fronts before being reduced to tears of laughter and exclaiming: ”Oh my god, we’re being invaded by South American walruses!”
His frothing description of the Illuminati, the New World Order of lizard people he says secretly control the planet, is also worth enjoying in full:
“Just like the Bible says, it’s basically an intergalactic invasion into this space through people. I’m telling you, it’s what all the ancients said. It’s what they warned of. It’s what we’re dealing with. They’re demons! They’re frickin’ interdimensional invaders OK? I’ll just say it, make fun of me all you want on CNN or wherever, but everyone already innately knows this. These people are not frickin’ humans OK! Hillary Clinton is a goddamn demon!”
He also occasionally allows the mask to slip and betrays a surprising amount of good humour and self-awareness. Wrapping tin foil around his head to make a hat in one segment with resident quack Dr Edward Group, he chuckles: “See how fast I did that? Folks I’m an expert. Every day when I leave work I do this.”
The question of Mr Jones’ sincerity about the opinions he voices was raised last year when he entered a custody battle with his ex-wife. His attorney, Randall Wilhite, argued that judging his character based on his public persona was like assessing Jack Nicholson’s sanity based on his portrayal of the Joker (Alex Jones once actually dressed up as Heath Ledger’s incarnation of the same character to harangue Barack Obama, a man he says is a demon and “smells like sulphur”).
Mr Jones was subsequently forced to counter the accusation that he was “playing a trick on the public”, telling The Austin American-Statesman: “I believe in the overall political programme I am promoting of Americana and freedom.”
John Oliver memorably took Alex Jones to task for the amount of product-placement his shows feature, accusing him of peddling paranoia about “globalists systematically feminising us to sell over-priced nutraceuticals so he can buy luxury watches” and branded him “the Walter Cronkite of shrieking, bat shit, gorilla clowns”. But, for all of his loud and ill-considered pronouncements, Alex Jones is no joke.
He has repeatedly claimed that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012 was “completely faked with actors”, a hoax sponsored by the Obama administration to provide a pretext for introducing stiffer firearms restrictions. He is currently being sued by several families whose children were among the 27 killed when gunman Adam Lanza, 20, burst into the Connecticut school and opened fire.
His propagation of the notorious “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory – about senior Democrats running an occult paedophile ring from the basement of a restaurant in Washington, DC – was also blamed for inspiring a shooting that took place at the pizzeria in question, Comet Ping Pong, in December 2016. Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, shot up the venue with an AR-15 assault rifle after deciding to “self-investigate” the claim. No one was hurt, but Mr Jones was forced to apologise for his part in spreading the rumour.
President Donald Trump nevertheless expressed his admiration for Alex Jones’s “amazing reputation” on the campaign trail, praise that was later rewarded with one of his weirdest public statements: ”I never expected Trump charging into a goblin’s nest to not get some goblin vomit and slop and blood on him - I just don’t want to catch him in bed with a goblin... I don’t want to see him kissing goblins, having political succubus with goblins, I don’t want to see him ingratiating goblins.”
Perhaps the last word on Alex Jones – “paleoconservative”, purveyor of dietary supplements, bullet-proof vests and brain pills and rumoured alter ego of not-really-dead stand-up comic Bill Hicks - should go to Hillary Clinton, given that she’s a reptilian space demon who privately rules the world anyway.
Speaking about his claims that 9/11 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings were “inside jobs”, Mrs Clinton pithily observed: “I don’t know what happens in somebody’s mind or how dark their heart must be to say things like that”.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies