President Trump’s addiction to fake news is well documented. His Chief Strategist is the former editor of Breitbart.com, the purveyor par excellence of fake news and alternative facts. He’s accused former President Obama of crimes based on phony Breitbart reports he read. He even touts Fox News‘ self-described opinion shows, where he and his staff appear or call-in frequently, as sources of real news.
Once, in the aftermath of his Obamacare replacement failure in congress, President Trump went out of his way to promote an upcoming episode of one of those opinions shows in advance, telling his Twitter followers to watch Justice with Judge Jeanine to hear important breaking news. Host Janine Pirro opened that show by calling for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to resign as Speaker of the House.
But the President’s favorite fake news flunky has to be Alex Jones, the combative, confrontational conspiracy nut of the extreme right. His internet show Infowars is wildly popular among the more zealous consumers of right-wing media.
In December of 2015, early in the primary season, Jones dedicated 33 minutes of his show to a one-on-one video interview with Trump, during which Trump said to Jones, “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.” Jones replied, “my audience, 90% of them, they support you.” On multiple occasions during the campaign, Trump pontificated on topics and themes that critics say came straight from the transcripts of Info Wars episodes. Infowars has even been linked to the Russian bot operation that spread Russian-generated fake news throughout the far right social media landscape.
While Alex Jones’ long-established reputation as a peddler of conspiracy theories and phony stories hasn’t stopped Trump from sourcing his garbage as President, news broke yesterday that his material might now be the only thing that’s fake. If Jones’ own lawyers are to be believed, the man himself might be one big lie.
Jones is embroiled in a nasty custody battle at the moment. His ex-wife is attempting to use his notorious, profanity-laced on-air tirades against him to gain sole custody of their three children. According to a report in the Austin American Statesman:
“He’s not a stable person,” Kelly Jones said of the man with whom her 14-year-old son and 9- and 12-year-old daughters have lived since her 2015 divorce. “He says he wants to break Alec Baldwin’s neck. He wants J-Lo to get raped. “I’m concerned that he is engaged in felonious behavior, threatening a member of Congress,” she said, referring to his recent comments about California Democrat Adam Schiff. “He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching him broadcast.”
His lawyers response? The judge shouldn’t hold anything he says on the air against him because it’s all just an act! More from the Austin American Statesman:
At a recent pretrial hearing, attorney Randall Wilhite told state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo that using his client Alex Jones’ on-air Infowars persona to evaluate Alex Jones as a father would be like judging Jack Nicholson in a custody dispute based on his performance as the Joker in Batman. “He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said of Jones. “He is a performance artist.”
The President has made a number of moves recently that have signaled that he might be starting to pivot away from figures and personalities from the shadowy, right-wing media bubble that he relied on to win the election. What he’s pivoting toward, however is still unclear. That said, cutting off his supply of fake news from dealers like Jones would be a long overdue but welcome sign that he’s attempting to cure his addiction to conspiracy theories and fake facts. Whether he’ll admit that he had a problem in the first place or not is another matter entirely.
Peter Mellado is a writer, producer, and a branding and messaging specialist with over 15 years experience. He studied history at San Jose State University, and resides in Los Angeles.