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Rage Grows in America: Anti‑Government Conspiracies

Part Two: Anger on the Fringes

Alex Jones, the Conspiracy King

If, in mainstream America, Glenn Beck may be the radio talk show host most involved in stirring up anti-government hostility and anger, his counterpart on the extreme fringes is Alex Jones. Though unknown to most Americans, Jones may currently well be the most prominent conspiracy theorist in the United States, and has been responsible for spreading and popularizing a wide variety of conspiracy theories, the majority espousing some form of anti-government viewpoint.

Alex Jones, conspiracy talk show host, stirs up anti-government hostility on his broadcasts

The Austin, Texas-based Jones has engaged in conspiracy mongering virtually his entire adult life, coming of age during the surge of anti-government activities in the mid-1990s. Today, Jones runs a syndicated radio show, The Alex Jones Show, which is broadcast on some, AM and FM stations, on shortwave radio, and over the Internet. He also operates two popular Web sites, Infowars and Prison Planet, and appears on a cable access television show, many videos from which end up on the Internet on such sites as YouTube. He has rounded out his conspiratorial media empire by producing a variety of conspiracy videos, with titles such as “America: Destroyed by Design” and “Martial Law 9/11: Rise of the Police State.”

Though popular among anti-government circles in the 1990s, Jones reached prominence in the years after the 9/11 terror attacks, as he became one of the most energetic of the “truthers,” the conspiracy theorists who believe that the 9/11 attacks were an “inside job” by the U.S. government. He has also collaborated with “celebrity truthers” such as actor Charlie Sheen, and far-right icon Ron Paul, a U.S. Representative from Texas, has often been a guest on his show. In March 2008, media figure Lou Dobbs was a guest on Jones’ show.

Jones’ various programs, Web sites, and videos have become incredibly popular among anti-government activists and conspiracy theorists. He promotes a variety of conspiracy theories, and allows his guests to promote others, but Jones’s own favorite conspiracies tend to converge on the following points:

  • There is a conspiracy by malevolent globalists to take over the world and institute a “New World Order” with high-tech slavery;
  • In the United States, conspiratorial figures such as “international bankers” and entities ranging from the Federal Reserve to the Council on Foreign Relations to the Bilderberg Group are engaged in a variety of strategies to take over (or extend their hold over) the government and to strip Americans of their rights, especially their rights to free speech and to own firearms;
  • Some sort of final conspiratorial takeover of America is imminent, including a declaration of martial law and the incarceration of American citizens in FEMA-run concentration camps.

Jones and Obama

It did not take Jones long to respond to the election of Barack Obama as president. Less than two months after the inauguration, Jones released a nearly two-hour long video called “The Obama Deception.” It has been viewed nearly four million times on YouTube. Jones billed it as a film “looking past the frontman in the White House to the real owners on Wall Street, in the Bilderberg Group and at the Federal Reserve.” Jones has expanded on these ideas in a second video, released in late October 2009, titled “Fall of the Republic: The Presidency of Barack Obama.” In the promotions for this video, Jones describes Obama as the “Trojan Horse” manufactured “to pacify the people just long enough for the globalists to complete their master plan.” He also claims to provide information how people can “retake control of our government, turn the criminal tide and bring the tyrants to justice.”

After the election of Obama, Jones began to develop ties to mainstream conservative media outlets such as the FOX News Network. In March 2009, not long after the release of “The Obama Deception,” he appeared on the FOX News program “Freedom Watch,” which allowed him to simulcast his portion of the show over his radio program. Three months later, he appeared as a guest on the FOX News program “Geraldo.” In August 2009, FOX News reporter Katie Cobb cited an article on Jones’ Infowars site about alleged government plans to implement martial law in response to the swine flu virus. Cobb’s only description of the nature of the anti-government conspiracy site was to say that it “has been tracking disturbing developments in swine flu preparedness.”

Not only do Jones’ anti-government conspiracy theories flood the airwaves and the Internet, they also influence people to take action. In August 2009, for example, a Virginia man, Jeffrey Weaver, pleaded guilty to sending a threatening communication. The incensed Weaver posted obscenity-laden messages threatening to kill a San Francisco police officer and his family on Jones’ Infowars site after reading a discussion about a subway shooting by a police officer in Oakland in January.

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