A shadowy group of elites—mainly international bankers but also George W. Bush, Barack Obama, the Clintons, most of the mainstream media, the Saudi royal family, and Google—is trying to enslave the Earth’s population through orchestrated terror attacks and revolutions, vast economic manipulation, vaccines and fluoride, and an ever-widening system of surveillance that includes Facebook.
That’s the truth—at least, the truth according to Alex Jones, a popular talk-radio host who is today’s leading proponent and marketer of political paranoia. “The globalists have stolen the world’s power,” he told me recently, with surprisingly abundant good cheer. “Their big dream, and all they talk about, is creating a super bioweapon, basically based on a mouse pox, and just turn it loose and kill almost everybody. It kills about 99 percent of whatever mammal you design it for. It’s their Valhalla, and they’re going to do it.”
Given these views, it was a little odd to see the thickset Jones, dressed in black, squeezed in between Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters on ABC’s The View in late February, talking about Charlie Sheen. Goldberg, in fact, looked a little stunned when Jones, a close friend of Sheen’s through the 9/11 “Truther” movement, which posits that 9/11 was an inside job orchestrated by Bush and others, began steering the conversation away from the celebrity train wreck and into the wilds of political conspiracy.
“Charlie Sheen is tired of being judged as the ultimate demon in this world,” growled Jones. “He didn’t kill a million people in Iraq! He wasn’t involved with the takedown of Building 7 here in New York!”
At one point, Goldberg tried to lasso Jones—“You’re talking too fast for me, baby, slow down”—but Jones darted away.
“They’ve got the TSA putting their hand down people’s pants,” he insisted. “We’ve got the banks bankrupting the U.S.—”
“Let’s stick with Charlie,” interjected Goldberg again, “ ’cause that’s way too much for me, man.”
“He didn’t steal $27.3 trillion, like the Federal Reserve!” yelled Jones. “Torture! Secret arrests! America turning into a police state!”
The women of The View, having lost control of their program, looked relieved to cut to a commercial. But Jones was only starting his grand tour through the mainstream media: That night, he appeared with Joy Behar to talk more about Sheen. Matt Drudge linked to a story on Jones’s website, Infowars.com, spiking traffic. There were also appearances on A&E and the History Channel.
Large swathes of America now know that the fix is in. The current president is a foreign-born Muslim; the last one conspired to bring down the World Trade Center, then covered up his nefarious crime with a tale about some hijacked airliners. Why wouldn’t people believe something horrible is afoot, what with economic chaos and multiple wars and devastating earthquakes and tsunamis. In this era of information anxiety, it turns out that telling people they are right to be afraid, anchoring their fears in specific details, is an excellent business model—and in America now, the paranoia business is booming.
This is the wave Alex Jones is riding. Fifteen years ago, he was an obscure FM talker in Austin who gained a bit of notoriety ranting about Timothy McVeigh and Waco. Now the longtime friend of Texas congressman Ron Paul is whispered about in the halls of Fox News, where he could envision himself “if I could have 100 percent control,” he says. His popularity isn’t a fluke; it’s a barometer of the rise of paranoia in every crevice of the Internet and cable TV, where fact and quasi-fact are now blurred on a regular basis and often make their way right onto mainstream screens. There has always been a shadow or two on the grassy knoll of American politics. But it’s never been more crowded up there. Jones’s visions of elitist machinations (and, of course, the elite are machinating), far from seeming ridiculous, have plenty of echoes on both the left and right. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and the creator of the Academy Award–winning documentary Inside Job all traffic, to various extents, in riling up fears of secretive plots, some based in fact, some much less so. Fox News’s Glenn Beck can seem almost a carbon copy of Jones, and according to Jones, who does not believe in coincidences, this is not a coincidence. Jones says that Beck built his success on Jones’s act. “Glenn Beck climbed over my back,” says Jones. “He’s like a fiddler crab that grabbed the shell off my back and scurried over me.”
And besides conspiring to steal his show, Beck is part of the bigger conspiracy. “He’s got psychological-warfare operatives writing some of that teleprompter stuff,” says Jones. “I’ve watched it. It’s very sophisticated; it’s very dangerous.”