AUSTIN, Texas — Allying himself with figures like Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, infamous talk show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is spreading misinformation about Muslims online and in his weekly radio program.
This tactic is Jones’ latest effort to use fear to generate clicks for his popular website and weekly radio program, “Infowars,” and to boost profits for his advertisers.
In a Dec. 8 broadcast, Jones defended Trump’s plan to close U.S. borders to Muslims. According to the talk show host, “upwards of 25 percent (of Muslims) who’ve been polled say they sympathize with ISIS and want to conduct violent attacks in Europe and the United States.”
On Dec. 16, Matt Agorist, a writer at the Free Thought Project, criticized Jones’ support for Trump’s plan, noting that Jones’ own website contradicted his claims that a quarter of all the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims support ISIS:
“In a blatant attempt to strike fear into the hearts of their xenophobic reader base, (who used to be antiwar and pro freedom of religion) Jones shills once again for Trump by pointing out that 21% of Syrians polled have favorable views ISIS. What Infowars conveniently left out, however, is the fact that [Nigeria,] the country with the highest levels of support for Isis outside Syria showed only 14 percent of people having a favorable view of the group.”
Agorist added, “None of the data showed that any of these supposed ISIS supporters ‘want to conduct violent attacks in Europe and the United States.’”
He further accused Jones of supporting an agenda similar to that of Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the group commonly known as ISIS) by spreading propaganda that encourages violence against a religious minority. “If you are willing to harass, hurt, or kill an innocent person because of their religion, you are no better than ISIS,” Agorist wrote.
Jones’ use of anti-Muslim propaganda has continued unabated since the publication of Agorist’s piece. On Monday afternoon, one of the headlines on Jones’ InfoWars website asks: “Why Is Obama Working with ISIS to Eradicate Christianity?” The article that follows propagates an oft-debunked conspiracy theory that Obama is Muslim or secretly supports Muslim extremism — a theory which is vocally endorsed by some Trump supporters.
While Infowars may be newly focused on spreading Islamophobia, its overall agenda of spreading fear is not new. Previously, Jones was one of the key sources of the rumor that the military operation known as “Jade Helm” was secretly an effort to hide a planned government takeover of Texas. A MintPress News investigation of Jade Helm found little of note to justify the anxiety over the military operation promoted by Jones and his fans.
A 2013 investigation of Jones by Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald estimated that Jones’ rakes in between $3 and 10 million per year, not including “book sales, merch, speaking tours, promotional tie-ins, book and DVD royalties or any other revenue streams that might exist.” Advertising on his website and radio show features a variety of products, from commonplace Internet scams like male sexual enhancement products to products like seed banks and water purifiers designed to capitalize on the worries of impending disaster and societal collapse which are stoked by his reporting.
Writing for Salon in May, Bob Cesca documented several damaging and dangerous conspiracy theories supported by Jones, and argued that the viewpoints expressed by Infowars are becoming more mainstream:
“That’s the dangerous thing about Alex Jones and his empire. The ludicrousness distracts from the damaging reach of the truly awful theories he sells.”
Cesca cited mainstream GOP leaders from Sen. Rand Paul to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott who have repeated Jones’ claims.
“The salient question is this: how far will it go? How deeply into the mainstream will Jones’ popularity bleed?” Cesca asked.
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