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Something's happening but you don't know what it is

Some thoughts on Alex Jones:


I worked with Alex a few years back and liked him well enough at the time, but I never had to deal with the braying rage-rhino seen in the Piers Morgan clips. I can't tell you how much he really believes what he's saying, but in my experience it's exhausting to say one thing and think another all day long. He may have started out as a cynical showman, but once his DVD sales took off and the 9/11 revisionists anointed him their mouthpiece, I bet the gap between thought and expression closed considerably.


Everyone who works in the secret national-security state (yes, there is one) should wake up every morning and pray for the health of Alex Jones. His usual technique is to start with a genuinely disturbing true fact, make an unproven supposition, and then layer on more facts that would also be disturbing if the (unproven) supposition were true. This is a brilliant technique for manufacturing the scary stories that are his bread and butter, but it also has the effect of discrediting the original disturbing fact, now permanently tainted by having spent time in Alex Jones' mouth. Conspiracy metatheory thought experiment: If the government wanted to discredit true rumors about its own criminal activities, can you think of a better way to do that than to feed Alex Jones accurate (or, even better, partially accurate) information about secret government programs and let him run it through his self-aggrandizing paranoia?


All conspiracy theories have this in common: They depend on the naive and comforting idea that someone is in charge of everything, that whatever happens is because someone wanted it to happen exactly that way. For all their gloating over superior, secret knowledge, most conspiracy theorists are like small children trying to explain death. Any story is easier to take than the one about how suffering and not knowing are just part of the deal. Sometimes there's nobody to blame and no manual to consult. Sometimes you just have to do what you can and hope you're right. Absolute certainty and a grownup engagement with the real world are mutually exclusive.


Because I was never flecked by his angry spittle, and because I'm more open to conspiracy theories than most people are, I was able to reserve judgment on Alex for a while. But I remember the exact moment I decided he was full of shit.

The question I asked him was this: "Let's say tomorrow you're in charge of everything. What would you change?"

Take a second and answer it yourself. I'll bet you can reel off ten, twenty, a hundred things without even thinking about it.

And yet he could not answer the fucking question. He stammered, he started to say something and stopped a few times, he changed the subject.

Of course he's thought about making things better: you can't function as an entrepreneur, media figure, parent, or citizen of a major American city without preferring some outcomes to others. But to talk about a best-case scenario is to admit that it might happen, that maybe the New World Order stormtroopers aren't swarming the borders after all. It smacks of hope, and hope is not what he's selling. In Alex Jones' world, there is never, ever a best-case scenario.

Alex tells us that our government is lying to us, that a wealthy and powerful elite is running the world, and that tyranny is always seeking a foothold, all of which I believe to be true. He also tells us that he's fighting these things as hard as he can. But to the extent these things are true, I don't know anybody who benefits more from them, or who has less reason to wish them gone, than Alex fucking Jones.

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Reader Comments (1)

Your final assessment is SO TRUE. As I remind someone I'm related to (young and impressionable, who digs A.J.), "If everything is NOT all screwed up, Alex Jones is out of a job, and that's a sweet job he's put together."
Read about radio during the Great Depression for perspective on drastic, worrying times, and realize anew how desperately many people crave absolutes and the over-the-top faux-authoritative personalities who propound them. People relish the Dad Knows Best voice that Limbaugh and Hannity and Jones all use. It's really sad how easily naive (or dumb or uneducated) folks can be swayed by the loudest comer.
Great piece, John. Thanks!

Jan 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErika Allbright

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