If you’re so inclined, you can now watch two hours of Logan Paul interviewing Alex Jones on his podcast Impaulsive, which was shared to the 1.4 million subscribers of Impaulsive’s YouTube channel. Paul himself has 18 million subscribers on his personal channel.
Jones, the Infowars host and hoax peddler currently being sued by parents who lost children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, has zero. He was banned from the platform in 2018 for hate speech, around the time Infowars content was also pulled from Facebook, Spotify, Twitter, and Apple. MailChimp, Pinterest, and even YouPorn denounced him.
But on Wednesday night, Alex Jones got a chance to reach millions of people who otherwise may never have seen him. You can still watch Infowars elsewhere online — namely, on its own website — but that requires actively seeking out Jones. Paul’s show removed that obstacle for Jones. In his final days on YouTube, Jones himself had about 2.5 million subscribers. The Infowars channel had fewer than that. Compared to truly small-scale creators, those numbers are nothing to balk at and certainly enough to drive a business. But compared to somebody like Paul, a YouTube legend turned IRL celebrity — an infamous 2018 vlog in which Paul discovered and filmed an apparent suicide victim hanging from a tree in Japan thrust him onto the world-news stage — 2.5 million subscribers is nothing.
Paul teased Jones’s appearance in a tweet earlier in the week, including a clip from the episode. Jones flips off the camera and yells, in the midst of a nearly incoherent rant, “Fuck everyone.” Paul and his co-hosts, Spencer Taylor and Mike Majlak, laugh at Jones’s antics. It’s only four seconds long, but if you were to use your imagination and conjure up what Logan Paul and Alex Jones in a room would look like, you probably wouldn’t be that far off.
The reaction among nonmembers of the Logang was not exactly positive
“It Appears Logan Paul Has Teamed Up With Alex Jones,” I headlined a short piece about the Twitter teaser. Majlak, it seems, was not pleased. “Just came up with a novel idea for online commentators, including @4evrmalone,” he tweeted at me. “This is gonna sound crazy but bear with me: before reviewing a piece of content…WATCH THE FUCKING PIECE OF CONTENT!”
My mentions are trash now, but the thing is, Majlak’s not actually mad. And, more importantly, he and Paul certainly weren’t surprised by that first wave of coverage. This is what they wanted to happen. This is why they teamed up with somebody like Jones in the first place. The initial outrage cycle of people talking and tweeting IN ALL-CAPS as more and more outlets pre-reported on the podcast was the best ad campaign for Impaulsive they could have asked for. The thing is, though, that Paul and his team aren’t the only ones getting something out of the deal. Actually, they’re not even getting the most out of the deal. Jones is.
To Paul’s credit, the first 15 minutes or so of the podcast are a good-faith effort to seriously question Jones. He asks if Jones thinks his theories are dangerous. “I’d argue it wasn’t the majority. I was on the internet, too … it was just some of the most vocal,” Paul replied when Jones tried to pin the propagation of hoaxes on the “majority” of people online. For a brief moment it seemed like maybe, just maybe, Paul and his team might be able to three-on-one Jones into a semblance of a logical conversation. (If you can ignore the fact that Paul opened the episode with a promo for Infowars.) When the discussion reached Sandy Hook, Paul told Jones he forgave him and wanted to give him a second chance. At this point the podcast still wasn’t even halfway over.
For Jones, this is Christmas. It’s the Olympics and he’s in peak physical condition. (Must be all those supplements he peddles.) And it becomes immediately apparent, beyond just the social-media reach he no longer has, why he would agree to appear with somebody like Paul in the first place, likely knowing that Paul, a contrarian in his own right, would try to push back against his beliefs. He agreed because he knew there was no way he could lose. By the end of the podcast — if you don’t want to sit through it, Julia Alexander from the Verge live-tweeted her viewing — Impaulsive basically has a new title. It’s Impaulsive With Alex Jones. They talk about God. Jones announces he’s “gay right now.” They talk about supplements, which Jones says he only sells because the left drove away all his sponsors and he needs to make a living. (After Paul’s dead-body-video fiasco, a TMZ reporter caught him outside an airport and asked what he was planning to do for money since YouTube booted him from its preferred ads program. Paul gestured to his sweatshirt, a piece from his own merchandise line.) Jones has become as much of a host as the other three men in the room.
Did you hear that Elon Musk made an appearance on Felix Kjellberg, a.k.a. PewDiePie’s Meme Review video series in February? PewDiePie recently fell to the second-place spot among the YouTube channels with the most followers worldwide, and is best known — followers aside — for losing a deal with Disney after reporters uncovered he had repeatedly shared anti-Semitic content. Musk is also no stranger to controversy — there are so many examples at this point, but the time he called a rescue diver a pedophile with zero evidence springs immediately to mind — so the pair, like Paul and Jones, made a perfect match.
We’re probably only going to see more of these sorts of collaborations in the future. Problematic figures bring controversy to influencers trying to stand out, and problematic influencers bring reach to figures who’ve been cut off from mainstream outlets. It’s a symbiotic relationship — think of Alex Jones as the clown fish to Logan Paul’s sea anemone — that’s only going to become more common as internet stars like Paul grow in influence, without any kind of concomitant growth in substance or integrity. Everybody gets something they want out of the deal, and no one risks anything. It’s a win-win for all involved. Except maybe for those of us watching at home.