Alex Jones was telling his listeners on YouTube about his visit to scenic Mt. Bonnell, the highest point in Austin, Texas, where he had gone to record a message about the dark forces threatening the republic — one of his favorite topics.
As is often the case, he got sidetracked — this time by the president-elect of the United States.
“And I told him, ‘Mr. President-elect, you’re too busy; we don’t need to talk.’ But we still spent over five minutes [on the phone], and he said, ‘Listen, Alex. I just talked to the kings and queens of the world, world leaders, you name it.’ But he said, ‘It doesn’t matter. I want to talk to you to thank you and thank your audience. And I’ll be on in the next few weeks to thank them.’”
These are heady times for Jones, the Austin-based radio and online television host and filmmaker known for his epic rants about the new world order and efforts by powerful globalists to enslave the masses.
His “Infowars” program is a mainstay of the far-right media landscape, gaining new currency as the Trump campaign has sidelined the mainstream press in favor of more receptive outlets.
Jones takes Trump’s “some people say” style of interpreting the world and doubles down. He likes to talk about secret armies. Mind control. “Kleptocrat corporate-run media.” The 9/11 attacks, he says, were carried out by the U.S. government. Six days before the Nov. 8 election, Jones uploaded another scoop: “The Truth About the Clinton Pedophile Ring Exposed.”
When officialdom and the media are calling him crazy, that’s when Jones figures he’s hit his stride.
“When they’re attacking you,” he said in a 2013 interview with The Times, “you’re winning.”
Trump’s rise, Jones says, can be attributed to “liberty and freedom and common sense.”
“We finally have people in Washington that actually listen to the people and don’t buy the propaganda of the big mainline corporations that are using weaponized media to mind-control simple-minded people,” Jones told his listeners.
Like most successful purveyors of conspiracy theories, Jones gets it right just enough to keep people listening.
He early on warned the public about National Security Agency cellphone spying, domestic drones and the perils of genetically modified food.
He is a Texan with enough of an accent to prove it, and his baritone voice commands attention in person and on the air.
Jones broadcasts from his headquarters in an unmarked building at a location he prefers not to disclose.
His default setting is distrust. When a reporter visited his studio in 2013, a staff member alerted Jones during a commercial break that the FBI had just foiled a bomb plot in Wichita, Kan. Jones ducked out of the studio to scrutinize a bank of network television monitors, then scoffed at the FBI’s announcement.
“Explosion plot — like they’re so pleased to have something to run around and get people excited about,” he said.
One caller that day, a man who identified himself as Ryan from Kentucky, said he had witnessed nearly 3,000 Russian troops and United Nations forces secretly training nearby.
Jones appeared unfazed. Over the years he has shared similar reports of covert armies preparing to subjugate the American people.
“It’s all over the place — they’re just acclimating us for occupation,” he replied. “You should shoot video of that — post it on YouTube.”
During his show, he has been known to sing along to Black Sabbath, Johnny Cash, Blue Oyster Cult and George Strait. He loves “Star Wars” and peppers his commentary with references to “The Hobbit.”
He’s friends with Dave Mustaine, former lead guitarist for the heavy metal band Metallica, now with Megadeth, which named its 12th studio album after one of Jones’ films, “Endgame.”
Jones graduated from Austin’s Anderson High School in 1993 — the same year the FBI raided the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, a confrontation that left dozens of sect members dead and sparked endless debate over the FBI’s account of events.
He went on to attend Austin Community College, where he hosted a show on the college’s public access channel that became the basis for his current radio show and website.
Among Jones’ detractors, conservative talk show host Glenn Beck has accused him of being a fascist madman. (Jones dismisses Beck as an effeminate globalist lackey.) The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups, said Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was among Jones’ listeners; a spokesman for the center, Mark Potok, has called Jones “the single most prolific patriot conspiracy theorist in the country.”
On Wednesday, a woman whose mother died in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut released an open letter calling on Trump to disavow Jones, saying he “has fanned the flames of a hateful conspiracy theory claiming that the shooting that took my mother never happened.”
“It’s unthinkable. It’s unacceptable,” Erica Lafferty wrote to Trump. “I’m asking you to denounce it immediately and cut ties with Alex Jones and anyone who subscribes to these dangerous ideas.”
In a video released Friday, “Alex Jones’ Final Statement on Sandy Hook,” Jones denied saying that no one died. He then went on to suggest, however, that the official account by police and everyone else who has looked into the tragedy — that a single gunman had slaughtered six adults and 20 first-graders at the school — was open to question.
“I’ve always said that I’m not sure about what really happened,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of anomalies. And there has been a coverup of whatever did happen there.”
For all the people Jones infuriates, he also draws enthusiastic audiences. That was vividly on display three years ago when he and listeners gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination.
On a Dallas street, he gestured wildly with his free hand to his camera crew and the crowd surrounding him at the foot of the grassy knoll that had become such a famous landmark associated with the shooting.
“A year ago the mayor said we won’t have any conspiracy theorists [at the anniversary observance] — that means anyone who questions the official story,” Jones shouted. “This is an act of defiance!”
Supporters wearing Infowars T-shirts cheered, while others carried signs Jones had made bearing Kennedy’s image and the words: “The establishment killed me 50 years ago, now they’re killing free speech.”
As he hit his stride, Jones’ gravelly voice rose in an urgent crescendo.
“We don’t want a bunch of offshore corporations running our country and trying to get rid of our Bill of Rights and Constitution, and banker bailouts of trillions of dollars, trying to take our guns and impoverish us for political control!” he said.
“We’re saying, ‘OK, you want a fight? You’re going to get one, you bastards!’”
The crowd erupted in cheers.
“He’s counterintuitive. He shines a light in the darkness,” said Joe Krupa, a retired teacher from San Pedro who had come for the anniversary and stumbled upon Jones.
Jason Phillips, an engineer from San Diego, thought Jones sounded pretty wild when he first saw his show on YouTube. But the more he listened, he said, the more he believed.
“The official story,” he said, “is a farce.”
Hennessy-Fiske reported from Austin, Texas, and Padilla from Los Angeles.