This afternoon, Alex Jones’s InfoWars had an occasion to boast: according to a post on the right-wing conspiracy theory clearinghouse, a source at the White House had shared with its reporters “exclusive details regarding what the 45th president plans to discuss” in his upcoming address to a joint session of congress. This news set off a wave of anxious and indignant tweets from political reporters who were under the impression that the DonaldTrump administration was not only treating Jones and his lackeys like a real news organization, but giving them preferential access.
This turned out to be yet another case of InfoWars publishing stuff that isn’t true. The Trump talking points they’d posted were from a memo distributed to multiple media outlets in advance of the speech, a normal practice for any White House press operation. But InfoWars been so eager to be included in the conversation at all that they mistakenly labeled the news as an “exclusive.” After it became embarrassingly clear that they’d gotten the same handout as everyone else, editors scrubbed that language from the post.
The episode marked the clearest instance yet of a bizarre inversion in the worldview of Alex Jones and his media empire. Long before he was boosting Trump and calling out his opponents as literal demons, Jones made his name as a proud paranoiac. In the InfoWars cosmology, any member of the global elite is at best a huckster and at worst a evil mastermind bent on enslaving the human race, and his targets have historically spanned party lines. Despite his right-wing and libertarian sympathies, Jones first gained nationwide notice for claiming that Republican president George W. Bush was involved in the 9/11 attacks. The very name of his site describes a war of information: on one side, there is the official version, designed to keep the public in the dark, and on the other, there is Alex Jones, nobly crusading for truth.
Jones has been a Trump supporter since the beginning of the president’s campaign, singling him out as an underdog with the guts to go after the globalists. Now that Trump is in office, his war on the mainstream media has given the New York Times and CNN the air of embattled exiles, and Jones has gone from a pathologically oppositional pundit to one who unequivocally supports the most powerful institution in the world. Some recent InfoWars headlines: “TRUMP’S WAR AGAINST THE FAKE MEDIA CONTINUES,” “AFTER BASHING TRUMP, SELF-ABSORBED CELEBS AWARD WRONG WINNER AT OSCARS,” “LIVE: PRESIDENT TRUMP IS BATTLING SATAN.”
This dynamic reached a head today when InfoWars gushed about its own access to the White House and uncritically reproduced the president’s talking points for it readers. “In Tuesday night’s speech, he will lay out an optimistic vision for the country that crosses the traditional lines of party, race and socioeconomic status,” today’s InfoWars post reads in part. “It will invite Americans of all backgrounds to come together in the service of a stronger, brighter future for our nation.” This is exactly the kind of sycophantic behavior that InfoWars used to rail against regularly in the mainstream media. If InfoWars even actually gets the White House press credential it’s been begging for, we’re in for more of the same. You either die a righteous hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become a thirsty lapdog.
When I wrote at length about Jones and InfoWars during the campaign last year, I spoke with Mark Fenster, author of a fascinating book of political history and theory regarding conspiracy theorists. “What happens if Trump wins?” he asked rhetorically at one point, when the prospect of the president’s victory was still almost unthinkable. “What kind of a relationship is he going to have with Alex Jones? The over/under to me is six months, maybe even 3 months, before Alex Jones decides that Trump has actually sold him out.” One month into his presidency, it doesn’t look like Jones is coming around to that way of thinking any time soon.