Crushing Alex Jones

Jeremy Gordin writes on the US media provocateur's comeuppance over his Sandy Hook fabulations

Even on a glorious day like today I get a tear in my eye thinking about Frank Zappa. That man was prescient, I tell you, prescient. Remember his number, “Jones Crusher”?

My baby’s got
Jones crushin’ love
Jones crushin’ love
Well, she’s tryin’ to
Grind up my jones
Grind up my jones
Here she comes
With her red dress on
Steam shoots out
From the sprinklers on the lawn
The eyes be rollin’
On the concrete fawn ...

Of course, this has everything to do with jones crushing, which I vaguely recall from about 40 years ago, and nothing whatsoever to do with Alexander Emerick Jones (never trust an oke with a middle name like Emerick – Limerick is okay but not Emerick). In fact, the only positive thing that I can think of about 48-year-old Alex Jones is that he’s reminded me of a Zappa song.

Other than that, there’s not – as far as I can tell – much, if anything, that’s “good” about him. To begin with, he’s pretty gross-looking; looks like an apartheid-era security policeman. I’m not being rude or bitchy; I used to look just like that about 15 years ago, before I shed 11 kgs.

I was frightened into losing weight by my then doctor – a real ego-crusher as opposed to a Jones crusher – who said diabetes (type 2) was going to kill me soon if I didn’t do something about shedding some flab. Of course I’d always known I was going to die, this was no revelation, but the soon bothered me. I still wanted to write a Nobel prize-winning novel, and 15 years ago, aged 55, had only the first two paras written down (I now have six).

Do you know about diabetes, specially type 1? It’s a serious pain in the tuchis, and in a lot of other areas too. As a recent article in the NY Times [i] points out, there’s the “round-the-clock monitoring of sugar levels; the constant, life-sustaining insulin injections; and the potential threats from diabetes’ diabolical complications: heart disease, blindness, kidney damage, and the possibility of losing a gangrenous limb to amputation” [ii]. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

I’m not digressing, by the way. Point about diabetes (1 or 2, though of course 1 is the real horror) is that it’s the proverbial silent killer. In WH Auden’s poem in memory of WB Yeats, there’re the lines: “The provinces of his body revolted, / The squares of his mind were empty, / Silence invaded the suburbs, / The current of his feeling failed ...”

Those lines always remind me of diabetes. It’s the original fifth column – the unseen enemy engaging silently in espionage or sabotage within your lines of defence or national borders. You don’t know it’s there, shredding you, until it’s too late.

Now then, returning to Jones. Ah, I hear you cry, Alex Jones is hardly under the radar, like diabetes. But I would say that in a certain sense he very much is – precisely because he’s treated by so many Americans not as an aberration but as a “normal” and therefore acceptable part of US society.

As my learned son, presently wilting in the heat of the US eastern seaboard where he is vacationing, remarked via WhatsApp recently: “What’s so interesting about Alex Jones, I think, is not so much the recent court case per se, but about the example of Jones himself – How did he get away [until now] with saying a clearly documented school massacre didn’t happen? – Why are conspiracy theorists and theories of this sort so popular? And he is popular, people here really seem to like him. Why?”

But first let’s catch up. Alexander Emerick Jones is billed on Wikipedia as “an American conservative, alt-right, and far-right radio show host and prominent conspiracy theorist. He hosts The Alex Jones Show from Austin, Texas, which the Genesis Communications Network syndicates across the United States and online. Jones’s website, InfoWars, promotes conspiracy theories and fake news, as do his other websites NewsWars and PrisonPlanet”.

Wikipedia continues: “The conspiracy theories promoted by Jones allege that the US government either concealed information about or falsified the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the September 11 attacks, and the 1969 moon landing”.

Jones wouldn’t, it seems, complain about any of these descriptions. He subscribes to the existence of the New World Order, a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda conspiring to rule the world through an authoritarian one-world government, which will replace sovereign nation-states – sort of like the ANC would like to be and the Russian Federation might become; and has described himself as a conservative, paleoconservative and libertarian; and says he is “proud to be listed as a thought criminal against Big Brother”.

And he has many other strings to his bow. He’s known for his opposition to vaccines (which might enamour him to some Politicsweb readers, I’m just saying), has called Joe Biden a “slave of Satan,” and said in January 2021, “Whatever happens to President Trump in 15 days, he is still the elected president of this republic. And we do not recognize the Communist Chinese agent Joe Biden, or his controllers.” (Also comments that might enamour him to some Politicsweb readers.)

Be all this as it may, the main reason Jones is front of mind for many is that his court shenanigans in recent years – ones that make our erstwhile president Jacob Zuma and his legal teams seem like girl scouts – this month culminated in Jones being ordered to pay (a total of) $49.3-million in punitive damages for, among other things, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) to the parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook school massacre. Jones, as noted above, had claimed the massacre was “false” – a staged event that employed actors, etc.

There’s been some fun Zuma-like, or maybe I mean Seffrican-type, stuff along the way. For example, apparently Jones’ attorneys mistakenly sent the Sandy Hook lawyers a nude photo of Jones’ second wife, Erika Wulff Jones (known to her friends as “Erika Woof-woof”), as part of an exchange of phone records. Sometimes – though rarely, I suppose – it can be fun to be a lawyer.

Alas, however, for those who think Jones has finally gotten his comeuppance: it has been pointed out by those who, for some reason like to focus on the facts, that Jones will never pay anything anywhere near $49-million – because Texas law places a $750,000 cap per plaintiff when it comes to punitive damages.

But here’s the thing. The man is not only incredibly popular – more importantly, he is also financially successful; and nothing succeeds in the US (or anywhere) like oodles of boodle.

That’s the key. As Jack Shafer, senior media writer of Politico points out, Jones’ listeners and viewers, whether they believe what he’s saying or not, quickly get turned over, as it were, to “his merchandising wing where he sells survivalist gear and health supplements like Brain Force Ultra, Winter Sun Plus Vitamin D and a variety of ‘Superblue Silver’ products (immune gargle, toothpaste and wound dressing) that Jones claim[s] could mitigate Covid.

“It’s not incidental that the products [Jones] hawks are presented as the fix for coming apocalyptic perils predicted on his shows. Citing court filings submitted by Jones’ attorneys in discovery, HuffPost reports that InfoWars collected $165 million [that’s 165-million greenbacks] in sales of these products from September 2015 to the end of 2018”.

The so-called Lie Economy, friends, is in fact big business [iii] – the lies and conspiracies are just extra icing on the (sugar-larded) cake. I have a feeling that if Jones could make as much, if not more, money peddling left-wing conspiracy theories, he’d do so.

It’s really all as American as apple pie – and insidiously destructive because it’s all, well, just the ol’ American way.

My son, you see, clearly doesn’t understand capitalism or how the free-market economy operates. (Too much time spent on physics and maths?) Weird conspiracy theories are popular because the punters want to get as much of a frisson as possible – and the weirder the theories, the easier (and more exciting) it is to part with your hard-earned latkes.

The problem in South Africa is this. Notwithstanding having had a chief justice who railed against Covid-19 inoculations and having a Mineral Resources and Energy Minister (Gwede Mantashe) who’s on record as saying that environmental activism is “apartheid and colonialism of a special type,” we just don’t know yet how to monetise the moronicism.

Or maybe Mantashe is doing better than I realise.


[i] “The Long, Long Wait for a Diabetes Cure”: (if you can get past the good ol’ firewall or moneywall).

One of the protagonists in the article is a Ms. Hepner who “has spent much of her life downplaying the disease, even with her husband, Mr. Mossman. She recalled his confusion early in their relationship when he awoke to find her discombobulated and drenched in sweat, the result of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar”.

Jeez, that’s happened to me about three times already – and my gorgeous wife didn’t even wake up. Not that it would have helped if she had; like most people, including me, she thinks discombobulation is my normal state of mind.

[ii] Which happens more commonly than one might think. The beginning of the end for Daily Sun founder and larger-than-life human being Deon du Plessis was the removal of a toe as a result of diabetes.

[iii] Shafer of Politico: “Will the public shame Jones has endured during this trial injure his show? Not likely. A forensic economist testified in the Jones trial that he and his companies made more after the leading social media companies deplatformed him in 2018 than before”.