I have to admit that I have a fascination with conspiracy theorists. It’s not a fascination with their theories which are mostly illogical nonsense resulting from the application of a strong cocktail of conjecture and insanity to cherry picked facts. The fascination comes from trying to figure out how people who otherwise manage to be functional members of society can and do sometimes believe this malarkey.
I look at how figures like Alex Jones have been all but mainstreamed in recent years and wonder at what point does this garbage become dangerous for our country.
Given some of Alex Jones’ antics it is easy for a rational person to believe what his lawyers told a judge during a custody battle over his children. They said that Jones is only playing a role. He’s an actor portraying a character. They clearly hoped to convince the court that Jones isn’t the paranoid lunatic he appears to be whenever he’s in front of a camera or behind a microphone. Was it just a legal maneuver telling the judge what they thought he wanted to hear or an admission to being a total fraud? It didn’t resonate as the latter. Jones is still out there acting as if he is authoritative and floating crackpot theories that are being gobbled up by his fans.
Many of his fans are certainly just listening for the entertainment value. Jones is a spectacle like professional wrestling. A lot of people who know it’s fake still have fun watching, but there are some who buy Jones’ take on politics. I’ve been politically involved long enough and I routinely see people sharing and seriously discussing Jones’ claims as if he is really on to something.
Often the same people whose knees jerk to “fake news” at the mention of anything reported on CNN will tell me that Jones might be a little crazy but he reports a lot of legitimate news stories. How they can differentiate the fact from the fiction in one case while rejecting the content of an entire network in another is something worth examining. In the end I think it comes down to who they perceive as being loyal to Trump.
The crazy fringe of Trump loyalists often dismiss any news outlet except for Breitbart, Infowars, and Sean Hannity as leftist propaganda which is, by any objective measure, completely nuts. Meanwhile they will share or retweet conspiracy paranoia as if it were legitimate reporting. It’s not the content, it’s the loyalty.
There are usually nuts that fomenting anger against me for not carrying water for Trump or his Fox News surrogates (aka Sean Hannity (who I absolutely despise) and Fox & Friends). Call it a tribe or a cult, but there is a seemingly increasing number of people who decide what statements are true based entirely on whether it makes their favorite politician look good or bad.
Mentality is no longer unique to the rank and file. People who were formerly thought to be mainstream conservative commentators who appeared to know that holding politicians accountable was a good thing have joined the ranks of the people who place feelings and fealty ahead of facts.
Yesterday, Jones told his listeners that President Trump’s Diet Cokes are being drugged without his knowledge. (Somehow Alex Jones knows this while no one in the White House loyal to Trump—including Trump himself—has caught on.)
“It’s known that most presidents end up getting drugged. Small dosages of sedatives till they build it up. Trump’s such a bull he hasn’t fully understood it yet, but I’ve talked to people, multiple ones, and they believe that they are putting a slow sedative that they’re building up that’s also addictive in his Diet Cokes and in his iced tea and that the president by 6 or 7 at night is basically slurring his words and is drugged.”- Alex Jones (of course citing no evidence to his ludicrous claim)
Jones says presidents are drugged by “the power structure” in order to make them “puppets.” Is this how Jones is trying to process Trump’s sudden camaraderie with leftists Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi? You can see the video below. Jones puts on a great show and tells his listeners that his very life is in danger for bringing them this information.
Alex Jones’ pro-Trump audience members likely won’t cry “fake news” about the claim that Trump is a doped up puppet, because it’s being delivered by a loyalist. However, if CNN reported that the President appeared to be under the influence of drugs, they would almost certainly unleash hell. It would be the same story but they would judge its veracity differently depending on who delivers it. The validity of anonymous sources seems to be judged similarly.
Given that Trump has granted interviews to Alex Jones and has spoken approvingly of him in the past, someone in the White House should stomp on this latest fever dream Jones is peddling. There are some in America who are in a literal frenzy over politics.
Jones has every right to spout his nonsense but there comes a point where grown ups need to call it what it is before someone does something stupid. Is now that time?