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America Learned a Lot About Alex Jones Today

Alex Jones is a pretty private guy. His conspiracy theory media empire InfoWars is housed in a private compound in an undisclosed location outside of Austin. When I was writing a long piece about him last year, I called a dozen times or more over a period of weeks, only to be told by an employee that he wouldn’t be giving any press interviews in the foreseeable future. And though Jones occasionally lets the odd tidbit from his life outside the studio slip into his broadcasts and YouTube videos–a rack of sick vintage music production equipment here, a verdant backyard there–he’s not the kind of radio host who regularly rambles about his own personal life before diving in to the news of the day. Thats why it’s so intriguing that Jones is in court this week, fighting for custody of his three children with Kelly Jones, his ex-wife.

Kelly Jones is seeking joint or full custody of three children–a 14-year-old son and nine- and 12-year-old daughters–who have been living with Alex since the pair divorced in 2015, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Her team will contend that the host and Trump ally is not fit to parent the children, and will use his erratic on-air persona as evidence. “I’m concerned that he is engaged in felonious behavior, threatening a member of Congress,” she said at a pretrial hearing, referencing Jones’s particularly outrageous recent rant about Rep. Adam Schiff. “He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching him broadcast.”

Jones’s attorneys are arguing that he is a “performance artist,” and that his on-air persona is distinctly separate from Alex Jones the man (a variation on Terry Bollea’s surreal contention that he and his pro wrestler persona Hulk Hogan are different people, with different penis sizes, during the Gawker trial). This line of argument is the most substantiative news to emerge out of the trial so far. Jones’s fans presumably value his preceived authenticity, and his opponents already view him as a huckster–a view that is encouraged by the claim that he’s not expressing his true self when he yells about false flags and bombs full of chemicals that turn straight men gay. Fusion’s headline best summed up his particular predicament: “Alex Jones’ Defense in Upcoming Custody Battle Is That He’s a Fake.”

Aside from the performance art defense, there are a number of ridiculous details that have already come out from the case. Opening statements were today, and reporters on the scene relayed information in real time via Twitter. We learned, for instance, that Jones once allegedly forgot basic facts about his children because he ate a big bowl of chili:

That’s a big boy.

We also learned that, according to Kelly Jones’s lawyer, Alex Jones’s paranoid pontificating has made him rich beyond your wildest dreams.

And that Jones’s new partner is apparently a “sensual massage therapist.”

Not everything about the case was so salacious and fun, of course. Ultimately, this is about the future of three children who have a frothing apocalypse preacher for a father. According to Kelly’s lawyer, Jones is “enmeshing” his son into InfoWars, and has engaged in a “systematic campaign of parental alienation” to turn the kids against their mother.

And there are two sides to every story. According to Alex Jones’s team, he does not bring his work home, and the children are happy living with him.

All of that, and it’s only day one. We’ll be following the trial as it progresses.