- Ex-wife claims “conspiracy of lawyers” and legal system protects Jones’ media empire
- Sealed court documents describe Alex Jones’ “depraved, bizarre cult indoctrination” of his children
- EEOC complaint alleges Jones groomed employee "for homosexual sex"
- Alex Jones sent staffers to Proud Boys meetings and associated with David Duke
In 2013, Billy Corgan appeared on Infowars and gave us what might be the most revealing moment of Alex Jones’ career. The Smashing Pumpkins singer, a long-time fan and occasional guest on the show, offered some constructive criticism: “The Infowars could benefit from a spiritual perspective,” he said, citing Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., “and even Jesus” as people Jones should emulate. He’d like to see Jones abandon the negativity and bring people together to confront the world’s evils with a positive message. Alex took all the criticism with more humility than one might expect as Billy dominated the conversation. Of course, Jones had no intention of making Infowars a cooperative or encouraging meditation among his staff or pivoting to whatever kindler, gentler conspiracism Corgan advocated. Alex Jones’ brand was and is rage, and the rage is what made him famous. Perhaps too famous.
Fame has been Jones’ goal since he dropped out of community college at age 22 and started appearing on public access television in Austin, Texas. This obsession is why, despite his extreme narcissism, he clams up when confronted by someone closer to the A-list, like Corgan, Charlie Sheen, or Joe Rogan, and lets them take center stage. He even acts a little awestruck around Dave Mustaine.
Of course, not every celebrity rates in Jones’s book. “He says he wants to break Alec Baldwin's neck,” his ex-wife Kelly Jones testified in 2017. “He wants J-Lo to get raped."
In a recent conversation, Kelly Jones summed up her ex-husband: “He’s a fanboy, right? He loves to be a celebrity.” The key to understanding Alex Jones is that he’s sick, she says. He doesn’t have any friends. In fact, she makes him sound like Howard Hughes with a rage problem: “I hope you'll write that I do have empathy for Alex. He’s a very, very sick person.”
“The Infowar,” as Billy Corgan put it, is Alex Jones’ whole life. And this life has just entered a new, very difficult chapter.
Much of the disaster that is America, circa 2022, can all be traced to one Texas boy’s desire to be famous. An old-school believer that the September 11th attacks were orchestrated by the Bush administration, Alex Jones has been responsible for promoting Pizzagate to great heights, helping fund the January 6th pro-Trump rally that led to the insurrection, and then, of course, there’s the thing he’ll be remembered for: saying that the Sandy Hook mass shooting, in which a lone gunman killed twenty first graders and six adults, was a hoax, and the grieving parents were actors. He didn’t just say this once — this lie persisted for years. Jones promoted this theory so well that some of his listeners began harassing and sending death threats to the bereaved surviving parents of the massacre.
No longer just the king of his sleazy corner of the internet, Alex Jones has exposed his own breed of insanity to the rest of the country in his bizarre court appearances, where he has earned over a billion dollars in legal damages.
Alex Jones always wanted to be famous. Just not like this.
Son of a Birch
Alexander Emerick Jones was born in Dallas in 1974, the son of David, a dentist and successful businessman, and Carol, a stay-at-home mom. “His parents were members of the [Dallas] John Birch Society in 1963,” says Wayne Madsen, a former Infowars correspondent. “That was the group that physically attacked Adlai Stevenson in October of 1963. Stevenson, a UN ambassador and two-time Democratic nominee for president, went back to Washington, D.C., after the incident and told JFK to stay out of Dallas. The president didn’t, of course, because he had an election to win. “I think Alex Jones got exposed to this” — this meaning right-wing extremism — “at a pretty young age.”
Whenever Jones talks about his teenage years, the story shifts depending on the audience. But we can say, in broad strokes, that he played football, got drunk, and spoke in tongues to freak out his classmates.
During Jones’ sophomore year of high school, his family moved to Austin. Jones claims he was chased out of town after exposing corrupt, drug-dealing police, but the truth tells us more about Jones than the lie. In a 2019 episode of This American Life, a classmate of Jones’ named Jarrod Morrow recounts how, while fighting over a girl, Jones “came in behind me, and pretty much just rammed [me] into the wall, and caused me to fall off balance. It dazed me.” Morrow says he blacked out and had convulsions. “I started flipping all over the ground. And he just kept stomping on my head, and kicking me in the head, and kicking me in the ear. Blood came out of my ears, and my nose, and everything. He was trying to kill me.” After another fight where Morrow’s friends beat up Jones as payback, the family moved to Austin.
Austin was culturally light-years ahead of Dallas, and when Jones became a public access TV host just a few years later, the city’s vital counterculture would enliven his otherwise stale militia talking points. In the early 1990s, the United States was experiencing a post-Cold War renaissance of fringe ideas, enabled by new desktop publishing technologies, large bookstore chains moving into suburban malls, the ubiquity of cable television, and pre-World Wide Web computer bulletin board systems. This was the world that gave us Art Bell, the Left Behind books, The X-Files, and Alex Jones. Ironically, for a man who sees socialists under every bed and Satan in every law and regulation, it was the legally-mandated public access television movement that gave Jones his start. In a few years, he graduated to radio.
By 2011, when Alexander Zaitchik profiled Alex Jones in Rolling Stone, the broadcaster hadn’t yet squandered all the goodwill he had accrued targeting the George W. Bush White House. It’s easy to forget this now, but there was a time when anyone with any platform whatsoever who spoke out against George W. Bush or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could be seen as a hero of the left. This was a time when Jones, desperate for content, would invite progressive luminaries like Noam Chomsky and Greg Palast onto his show. Perhaps there’s no better evidence of the left’s weird, short-lived love affair with Alex Jones than a 2014 Texas Monthly story exploring the conspiracy theory that Jones was actually the dead, beloved comedian Bill Hicks. “Their shared passion,” the article says, “is less about any particular political party, and more about a shared distrust of state power.”
Jones’ dollop of counter-culture credibility didn’t last long, and not everyone was fooled to begin with. “From the very beginning, he seemed to be very squarely on the far end of the anti-government far right,” says Mark Pitcavage, Senior Research Fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “And that is the way that other right-wing extremists perceived him as well.” The real shift for Alex Jones, as Pitcavage notes, wasn’t when he became a vitamin supplement pitchman and started making real money. It was when Jones, the supposed enemy of the global elites, went all-in for Donald Trump.
'One Word: Legal Malpractice'
When Kelly Nichols met Alex Jones in 1998, she was a PETA activist who knew how to draw attention to a righteous cause. The nonprofit was known for its attention-grabbing media campaigns, such as the time Kelly earned a misdemeanor assault charge for attacking Oscar de la Renta with a cream pie during a charity fashion show. (The designer used fur in his high-priced clothing.)
Kelly and Alex were soon married and had three children. They also founded Infowars, a mail-order business that sold the couple’s pseudo-documentary videotapes. Now known as Kelly Jones, Alex's wife played a huge part in her husband’s success — to her lasting regret.
The Infowars Store is the key to Jones’ empire. The website features products like fluoride-free toothpaste, Brain Force Plus pills, books by Roger Stone and Donald Trump, and, under the category “Nuclear & Biological,” one lonely item: a limited edition cloth mask with the Infowars logo (“Shield yourself and stay safe from incoming germs with the Infowars face mask!”). Watching Infowars is a strange whiplash of paranoid rants and QVC-style commercial pitches.
If Kelly Jones had her way, Infowars would be shut down, the assets split up, and she would receive the 51% ownership stake that the original business agreement stipulated. In response, her ex-husband has pursued a ruthless legal strategy that has left her all but penniless. To hear Kelly explain it, it’s more than a legal contest. It’s as if the forces arrayed against her constitute a conspiracy by lawyers and the legal system to protect Alex Jones and his empire.
"Being in litigation with Alex particularly is like a hell untold," she says. "And it's constant. You never know what's going to happen. You’re constantly burdened with it."
This conspiracy has done worse things than enable the Alex Jones political machine. In multiple conversations and in sealed court documents obtained by Failed State Update, Kelly reveals the abuse that her minor daughters have had to live with in their father's custody. The allegations include domestic violence, drug use, and “depraved, bizarre cult indoctrination of the children.” Kelly is currently trying to get the court to unseal the records from her battle with her ex-husband. She’s convinced that once people know his real character, Alex Jones’s empire will collapse.
In a sealed court document obtained by Failed State Update, Kelly Jones wrote:
Would the would-be usurper insurrectionists have followed Alex Jones across the country and to our nation’s Capital [sic] if they had the ability to understand that Alex Jones’ entire “family man” “Constitutionalist” “Christian” platform was a farce? Would Alex Jones and Infowars have been able to fund and provide a clear campaign platform for Trump’s election hosted by indicted criminal Roger Stone if the public could have understood what he had done to his own family?
I asked Kelly why Alex was fighting the Sandy Hook parents in court. "I can give you one word," she replied: "legal malpractice." She claims that her ex-husband is mentally impaired and that the people he's in business with are calling the shots.
"Alex is different," Kelly says. "He cannot function like you and I can."
The Cult of Alex Jones
Rob Jacobson was a video editor for several Alex Jones “documentaries,” movies with titles like The Obama Deception and The 9/11 Chronicles: Truth Rising. He joined Infowars in late 2004 and stayed there until he was unceremoniously canned on May 1, 2017. A year later, when Jacobson and Ashley Beckford, a Black woman formerly employed by Infowars, filed complaints against Jones with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the world got its first look at the dysfunctional atmosphere inside Infowars HQ.
Jacobson doesn’t mince words when describing Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Infowars: It’s a “cult,” he says. “When he’s in a good mood, he seems like a ten-year-old kid who is just playful and just wants everybody to be his friend, and there’s a high charisma level to that.” But according to Jacobson, Jones regularly walked around the office shirtless, sexually harassed women on the staff, and called Jacobson “beefcake.” At one point, Jones let someone into Jacobson’s office to put gay porn on his computer. “I believe this action was a continuation of the intimidation and sexual harassment in that he was grooming me for homosexual sex,” Jacobson alleged in the filing with the EEOC. When David Duke visited the studio, Jacobson says Alex introduced him to the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan as the “Jewish Staff Member.” This became Jacobson’s nickname around the office.
According to Beckford’s complaint, she was called racial slurs at work, where she had to fight off unwanted sexual advances from Jones and others. Jones denied the allegations, telling the Daily Mail: “[N]obody accuses me of stuff like that. No, no and in fact I'm not the type of person to say those kinds of things. So that's why my feelings are hurt. Wow. That's all I can say. That's total bullshit.”
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“Alex had Gavin McInnes on the show several times,” Jacobson says. “Alex has sent staff members to Proud Boy meetings. Alex has made this character Mike Cernovich very popular, and this is where the Pizzagate thing came from. And of course, an active shooter showed up [at Comet Pizza in Washington, D.C.] because of what Alex and Cernovich were talking about.” This was also when Roger Stone began hanging around.
“It was such an extreme departure from what Alex was talking about,” Jacobson says. “That's when Alex made his break” from a universal disdain for the “elites” of both political parties and began throwing his weight behind a major party candidate for president. “I thought Alex was a person of principle up until that point,” he says.
When Jacobson started at the company, there were maybe a dozen people working in a little building on West Mary Street in Austin. By the time he was fired thirteen years later, the staff had grown fivefold.
“I would say it's an absolute cult,” Jacobson says. “I do believe that I myself was influenced as a kind of cult member before I broke myself out of it.”
“There is a reported school shooting in Connecticut,” Jones said at the top of the show on December 14, 2012, helpfully pointing out that Connecticut is “one of the states that has draconian restrictions on gun ownership,” and that “the media will hype the living daylights out of this.” This was the same kind of thing Jones had said for years, after every mass shooting. He kept saying it, probably not realizing that this day would change the course of his career forever.
“You know,” Jones said as the news came in that 26 people were dead at Sandy Hook Elementary school, “Obama’s said that even if Congress doesn’t act, he’s gonna physically try to take all handguns and rifles.”
Every school shooting in recent years has had its “false flag” claims, conspiracy theories that they were staged by the New World Order as part of a terror campaign, but Sandy Hook went viral like no other: In 2014, Andrew Truelove was sentenced to a year in jail for stealing a 50-pound sign from a park dedicated to the memory of one of the Sandy Hook victims and then calling the kid’s parents to tell them the shooting was a hoax. In 2016, Matthew Mills tracked down the sister of a murdered teacher “and began angrily charging that not only did the Sandy Hook tragedy not take place, but that Victoria Soto never existed,” according to the Connecticut Post. And arguably, all of these incidents happened because of Alex Jones.
“Since I didn't listen to the radio show, I never really paid attention to what [Jones] was saying,” Jacobson says today. As an editor of long-form documentaries for Infowars, he was largely shielded from Jones' more outrageous beliefs.
Then he heard Wolfgang Halbig's appearance on Infowars.
Halbig, a 75-year-old retired school administrator, is — after and because of Alex Jones — the most prominent Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist. In 2020, he was arrested for the unlawful possession of another person’s identification after doxing Lenny Pozner, whose six-year-old son Noah was killed in the shooting. Halbig allegedly furnished Pozner’s personal information, including his Social Security Number, to other conspiracy theorists, as well as to multiple law enforcement agencies and members of the media. Since the shooting, Halbig “has deluged Newtown officials with open records requests, demanding, among other things, records from the cleanup of ‘bodily fluids, brain matter, skull fragments and around 45-60 gallons of blood,’” The New York Times reports.
Halbig had been chosen by Alex Jones as a featured expert on the massacre. When Jacobson realized it, he confronted the writing staff. “How could you be doing this to the parents of Sandy Hook?” he asked. “It’s not journalism at all.” Jacobson was laughed out of the room. Not long after that, he was fired.
Listeners, Customers, and Extremists
Lenny Pozner, who once regularly listened to Alex Jones on his way to work, became the most outspoken and public face of the parents of Sandy Hook. In December 2016, Lucy Richards of Brandon, Florida pleaded guilty to threatening Pozner after sending multiple voicemails and emails with messages like: “Death is coming to you real soon and nothing you can do about it.” At the time of her court appearance, the 57-year-old needed a walker to get around and was subsisting on a $500/month government check. She is a dramatic example of the Alex Jones business model. Find desperate people, scare the hell out of them, sell them worthless vitamin supplements, and so what if they turn violent?
Jones is well aware of the extreme measures his followers might take. In the 2011 Rolling Stone profile, Alexander Zaitchik asked him about this.
“Some unstable people are drawn to the bright flame of enlightenment that is so-called ‘conspiracy culture,’” Jones explained. “Some trees are going to become uprooted in a storm like this. But we can’t stop telling the truth for fear of what telling the truth is going to do. If we do, then human life as we know it is over and we’re just Prozac-head automatons.”
Like Pozner, Neil Haslin and Scarlett Lewis are victims twice-over. First, they lost their six-year-old son Jesse Lewis at Sandy Hook. Then they became victims of harassment by Sandy Hook truthers mobilized by Alex Jones.
Since 2013, Haslin and Lewis’ lives have been a steady stream of comments from strangers in public, anonymous phone calls, and hostile emails. There has also been violence. In one incident, Haslin was at home when he heard gunshots and someone shouting the name “Alex Jones” from a moving vehicle. “My home was shot up,” Haslin testified, “vehicles were shot up in my yard.” As a result of the harassment, he experiences regular panic attacks and chest pains. “Alex was the one with the match that started the fire. He's there with the tanker, and other people are bringing pieces of wood and fuel to the fire.”
Haslin and Lewith both testified to seeking mental health treatment as a result of the harassment. They’ve also had to hire private security to protect themselves from Alex Jones’ followers.
When Neil Haslin testified in the August trial, Jones was notably absent from the courtroom. Haslin described the “nine and a half years of the living hell” that the Sandy Hook parents have endured “because of the negligence and the recklessness of Alex Jones [and the] propaganda that he has peddled for his own profit and success.” He had been waiting for years to confront his accuser directly, but when his chance came, the Infowarrior was across town, watching the proceedings on YouTube.
After Haslin’s testimony, Jones appeared on Infowars to give his thoughts on the testimony. Haslin appeared to be “slow” and “on the spectrum,” he said.
Shouting “Fire” in a Crowded Internet
On August 4, 2022, the jury ordered Jones to pay Heslin and Lewis $4.1 million in compensatory damages. The next day, an additional $45.2 million in punitive damages were piled on. This was just the beginning of what might prove to be the end of Alex Jones as we know him. In October, a Connecticut jury decided that Jones should pay eight Sandy Hook families and a first responder $965 million. A month later, a Connecticut judge awarded the families an additional $473 million in lawyers’ fees, bringing the total to over $1.4 billion.
Sandra Baron of Yale Law School sees the cases as remarkable only because Alex Jones is such a remarkable specimen; the law itself is pretty cut-and-dry. If he lied and profited from those lies, it was not protected speech.
“Not all defamatory statements that harm people's reputations and ruin their lives are entitled to free speech protection,” Baron says. “People are allowed to sue under the First Amendment, and have been since the founding of the country.”
Punitive damages were awarded because the jury found that Jones either knew he was lying about Sandy Hook or was acting so carelessly that it was reasonable to assume he was lying. “I mean, even Alex Jones admitted the statements he made were false,” Baron continues. “The only question was, did he make them with actual malice? And the jury clearly found that he did.”
Alex has faced many setbacks over the years — and fate or dumb luck has somehow turned them into successes. After being fired from his first radio job, he ended up with a syndication deal that put him on upwards of 100 radio stations all over the country. After 9/11, when Alex became a leading voice in the 9/11 “truth movement” and those stations started abandoning him, his focus switched to his website. By 2011 Jones’s online listenership was larger than that of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck combined. The deplatforming that began in 2018 with YouTube and soon spread to Facebook, PayPal, and even Pinterest has had little effect on his bottom line.
After testimony in the Scarlett Lewis and Neil Haslin trial ended, Jones took to the radio to respond. He began the show by listing America’s ills in descending order of importance: the “globalist lockdown,” eugenicist “Covid shots,” people fleeing third-world countries for the United States and Europe, fentanyl, and something called “drag queen pedophile time.” This all amounts to the a “total war on our civilization.” And with such serious problems hanging over us all, the persecution of Alex Jones should be hardly a blip. So why is it the number one story in the country?
Because Alex Jones is the avatar of the populist resistance, and he must be crushed.
“They see me as everything they hate,” he explains. “They see that dauntless spirit, that indomitable spirit, as their enemy.”
But in his Austin, Texas, studio, where he has a direct line to the angry and confused, the losers of free market capitalism and the hopelessly lost, Alex Jones is the most famous — and the most beloved — man in the world.
- Alex Jones goes to Scamworld, December 17, 2021
- Alex Jones, Tucker Carlson, and the Fascist Fourth Reich, February 24, 2022
- 'Alex's War' documentary is a painfully boring love letter to a man who is anything but boring, July 31, 2022