After graduating high school in 1993, Jones took classes part-time at Austin Community College, and he found himself drawn to the studios of Austin's community-access cable station. Soon he was subbing for sick hosts, mixing conspiracy theorizing with muckraking reporting. When the federal building in Oklahoma City was bombed in 1995, Jones began accusing the government of being involved in the attack. "I understood there's a kleptocracy working with psychopathic governments — clutches of evil that know the tricks of control," he says. His mailbox began to overflow with manila envelopes from fans who offered up more pieces of the New World Order puzzle: RAND reports, declassified intelligence, yellowed press clippings. Within months, Jones landed his own show on KJFK, a local station, and became a folk hero in Austin, a town that prides itself on its characters.
By 1999, when new owners of the station fired Jones for what they called his "inside-terror-job stuff," he had already outgrown the limitations of old-fashioned broadcasting. His website, infowars.com, gave him a platform that no one could censor, and an ISDN line he installed at home enabled him to beam his broadcasts to 10 stations across the country. "My KJFK colleagues made jokes about it," he says, "but I was reaching more people at home than the terrestrial station."
A new age of media was dawning, and Jones was one of its earliest pioneers. "Alex Jones is a model for people to create their own media," says Michael Harrison, editor of the industry trade magazine Talkers. "When the history is written of talk broadcasting's transition from the corporate model of the 20th century to the digital, independent model of the 21st century, he will be considered an early trailblazer."
Jones also moved into filmmaking with America: Destroyed by Design, which posits a "World Bank takeover" of public lands. The film caught the attention of Richard Linklater, an Austin director who would go on to cast Jones as a crazed street prophet in his animated cult hits Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. Jones won a spot as a host for a libertarian-minded syndication outfit, which was set up to steer business to a gold company called Midas Resources. Jones quickly began racking up affiliates. He was nearing 100 stations on July 25th, 2001, when he looked into the camera and issued a warning that has since become legendary among 9/11 Truthers. "Please!" he implored. "Call Congress. Tell 'em we know the government is planning terrorism." Jones mentioned the World Trade Center by name and warned against the propaganda he expected to accompany the attacks. "Bin Laden is the boogeyman they need in this Orwellian, phony system," he said.
Seven weeks later, Jones became the only radio host in America to begin his September 11th broadcast with a tirade against the U.S. government. "I went on the air and said, 'Those were controlled demolitions. You just watched the government blow up the World Trade Center.' I lost 70 percent of my affiliates that day. Station managers asked me, 'Do you want to be on this crusade going nowhere, or do you want to be a star?' I'm proud I never compromised."
After 9/11, his mainstream commercial appeal plunged to zero, but his cult profile continued to rise. A month after the attacks, Linklater's dreamy and innovative film Waking Life featured an animated version of Jones driving through downtown Austin and proselytizing through a rooftop megaphone. "We are being conditioned on a mass scale!" Jones yells to empty streets. "Start challenging this corporate slave-state ... and stand up for the human spirit!" As the rant builds, Jones' face progresses from pale, to violet, to blue, and finally to crimson-red, the color of spilled blood, a picture of madness.
The Bush years were a ripe time for Jones and his message of government deceit. The lies leading to the invasion of Iraq and the complicity of the media were plain for all to see. By the time Jones produced his 9/11 film Loose Change, he was no longer a lonely voice in the media wilderness, but the founding father of a growing national movement. Charlie Sheen suggested he organize a 9/11 Truth conference in Los Angeles, and Jones appeared in Linklater's adaptation of Philip K. Dick's dystopian novel A Scanner Darkly. "Alex's mind is a turbocharged research and information processor," Linklater has said. Sharing the credits with Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr., Jones once again played himself as a street prophet. His scene ends when plainclothes agents haul him into an unmarked police van for ranting publicly about government drug dealing.
His future arrest, or worse, is not a scenario Jones finds fictional. "I know I'm risking my life, but if they kill me, it'll confirm everything," says Jones, who has been arrested four times and suffered a torn rotator cuff for his activism. "This information that I've helped reverse-engineer is here to stay. I enjoy life. But I'd rather they blow my head off at a rally when I'm 40 than die during surgery at 85. There's freedom and power in total commitment."
Unlike many of his conspiracy-minded predecessors — Henry Ford, the Ku Klux Klan, the militia movement — Jones has no tolerance for racism or anti-Semitism. "There is no globalist command center, and I never make it about certain groups," says Jones, whose wife is of Jewish descent and whose adopted sister Marley is Asian-American. "All humans do the same stuff. Class solidarity should transcend race and religion in the fight against the globalists. Everything they touch turns to mutated death."
Jones claims he can document every aspect of the New World Order — the eugenics master plan, the inside-job terror, the FEMA camps. "It's basic criminal psychology to brag," he says. "Because the globalists talk about it, 95 percent of what I say is based on official documents and the mainstream press. I don't speculate."
But those documents and press clippings don't always say what Jones claims they say. Jones points to an old Henry Kissinger memo as proof of a New World Order plan to forcibly depopulate the Third World, but a close reading of the document reveals little more than government officials beginning to grapple with the strategic implications of runaway population growth. Nor does Operation Northwoods, a declassified 1962 government proposal for staging terror in the United States and blaming agents of Fidel Castro, serve as proof, as Jones frequently implies, that every act of terror originates with the U.S. government. The fact that Wall Street and big business exert an alarming control over the political system does not mean that every financial crash is part of a long-term scheme to bankrupt the world and leave everyone prostrate before the planned release of a cancer-causing monkey virus.
This is not to say that Jones is a conscious fabulist. By all impressions, he is shockingly sincere in everything he says. But for a man of otherwise high analytical ability, his logic and reading-comprehension skills are often victims of his Ahab-like obsession with the New World Order. Extreme extrapolation and prosecution by circumstantial evidence can be useful intellectual exercises. Almost never are they reliable guides to a complex world.
"I have deep context for every claim I make," Jones insists. "I know some people say I exaggerate, but I believe everything I say. It's just that the denial is so strong, the apathy so deep, that people need something to shake them out of their morass. We're like flowers who naturally turn toward the sun, and the globalists want us turned toward Hollywood and the TV so they can poison us. It's like one of those drawings with a hidden pattern. Once you stare long enough, it appears. Then you wonder: How did I ever not see it?"
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