From Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine, the headline over a profile of an American phenomenon:
Meet Donald Trump’s Propagandist
Right-wing radio host Alex Jones is America’s top conspiracy theorist. He has millions of listeners, but his most powerful one happens to be the president of the United States. DER SPIEGEL takes you inside his media empire in Austin.
If you haven’t heard of Alex Jones, you’ve been living a sheltered life.
He’s called a conspiracy theorist, a term that casts sincere conspiracy theorists in a bleak light. The world is full of conspiracies. Here in the U.S., we celebrate the fruits of one every Fourth of July.
But what Alex Jones believes in are crazy conspiracies.
As when he claims the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting wasn’t really the murder of 20 students, sic teachers and staff by a mentally ill man who shot his mother before heading for school, where he saved the last bullet for himself.
As the New York Daily News reported during the presidential campaign, when questioned about his theory, Jones doubled down:
Jones. . .reaffirmed his debunked conspiracy theories that Sandy Hook Elementary “was closed years before” the shooting; that CNN anchor Anderson Cooper reported on the shooting “using a green screen” and that “weird videos” revealed that grieving parents were in fact actors.
Here’s Jones at his best, in a bizarre anti-Hillary rant during the campaign, aired life on his online show, which is also carried by more than 80 radio stations in the U.S.:
A look at his audience
Alexa reports that Jones’s website is currently averaging about 8.7 unique visitors a month, though numbers were much higher as the presidential campaign ramped up, as shown in this Alexa graphic charting the rise of the website compared to other websites:
A look at Quantcast’s analysis shows that his audience is heavily weighted toward older white males, especially those earning over $150,000 a year.
But what’s most interesting is the nature of his audience, specifically those with the strongest affinity for Jone’s screaming sense of menace.
They are solders and cops. . .folks trained in the art of shooting to kill:
A German reporter takes stock
And now for a look at how Jones appeared to the Der Spiegel reporter:
Alex Jones, 43, is the biggest conspiracy theorist in the United States. In the past, Jones had been labeled as a loony, marginal figure. But now, as he says, he is in regular contact with the president and feeds him his ideas. “Trump and I have talked several times since the election – about freedom and our common goal to destroy our enemies.”
The times have changed in America. Since November, loony, marginal figures have shifted closer to the mainstream, and in the days of alternative facts people with a bizarre worldview suddenly become influential media figures. There is no one this applies to more than Jones.
Jones offered Donald Trump his determined support during the election campaign — and now the president of the United States is his most powerful fan, giving him a direct line to the White House. “Your reputation is amazing,” Trump raved when he was a guest on Jones’ show during the campaign. “What you’re doing is epic. It’s George Washington level,” Jones said, returning the compliment.
It was already cause for dismay at the time that Trump was aligning himself with Alex Jones, a man who has said a lot of crazy things throughout his life. For example, he believes the government possesses weather weapons it can use to create artificial tornadoes. He’s convinced gay marriage is a conspiracy by a global secret society “to encourage the breakdown of the family” and “to get rid of God.”
We’ll leave you with this from the New York Daily News:
Trump told Jones he “won’t let him down” when he appeared on his show via Skype at the end of last year.