I first began to learn about Alex Jones in 2010. Through an odd twist of events, I was introduced to a man named Richard McCaslin, a conspiracy theorist who attempted to raid a club for the rich and powerful in the redwood forest of California called the Bohemian Grove. Richard was the Patient Zero of someone who listened to Jones and took his bloviating seriously. On Jan. 20, 2002, he was arrested in the Bohemian Grove, wearing a superhero costume with a rubber skull mask and heavily armed.
100% of Richard’s decision to go on his raid was from watching a “documentary” Jones had produced called Dark Secrets: Inside Bohemian Grove, which suggested human sacrifice– maybe even children– was happening inside the Grove. It followed the Jones Method– a pinch of truth, a lot of speculation, some far-fetched interpretation, and a scary Satanic, baby-killing, New World Order cabal of those in power. I detailed Richard’s spiral down the rabbit hole and Jones’s influence over him in my book American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked America’s Consciousness. Richard died by suicide in 2018. I believe conspiracy theory is what pushed him over the edge, and the first domino was Alex Jones.
Two things repeated after Richard’s raid– first, Alex Jones and Info Wars would pop up regularly like a bad penny as a motivator in other cases of extremist violence.
To mention just a few: Byron Williams, who had a shootout with California Highway Patrol on I-580 in 2010 and was an avid listener of Jones. He was on his way to shoot up the offices of organizations associated with conspiracy boogeyman George Soros.
In 2011 Oscar Ortega-Hernandez did a drive-by shooting of the White House. He was influenced by the Jones directed “documentary” The Obama Deception.
Starting the year after that, there was a league of Info Wars followers who harassed and sent death threats to Sandy Hook survivors online, by phone, on the street and at their homes as Jones promoted theories that they were “crisis actors.” That’s how a total of $49.3 million was awarded to Sandy Hook parents this week. And that’s just the beginning.
He also promoted Pizzagate conspiracy, which led to a raid of the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria by Edgar Maddison Welch, armed with an AR-15, in 2016. Like Richard McCaslin, Welch was hoping to save human trafficking victims after watching the Pizzagate theory he saw laid out in an Info Wars video.
The second thing that repeated is Jones’s pattern of attempting to weasel out of responsibility every time he incited someone. It started with McCaslin– when asked to comment on his case, Jones said he thought McCaslin “sounded insane,” yet Dark Secrets not only gave McCaslin a clear motivation, but Jones stands outside the Grove at the end of the doc to tell people driving instructions to get there. And on January 6 (he was there as an organizer) he riled the mob up with his bullhorn, but when the shit hit the fan and people started beating cops to death– you guessed it, he tucked tail and ran.
And now, after years of dodging the court for the many cases surrounding his lawsuits from the Sandy Hook families, Jones is finally cornered. What a circus this week has been! Jones is in his own personal hell– trapped in a courtroom confronted with the truth and little chance to bloviate and spin it like he can on his rambling, 4-hour long daily radio show. He actually has to shut up and listen and his words here have real consequences.
The wildest revelation came this week when the attorneys for Sandy Hook parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis revealed that Jones’s defense had mistakenly sent two years of data off his phone, and that this clearly pointed out that Jones is guilty of multiple counts of perjury. Jones tried to file for a mistrial. The judge said “nah.” Now the January 6 Committee is attempting to get access to that data to see how big his role exactly was in the J6 Q d’etat.
The jury awarded the victims $4.1 million, and then an additional $45.2 million in punitive damages.
That’s a good start, but not enough. A billion dollars isn’t enough.
Here’s what I hope. I hope there’s a string of trials that goes on the rest of his life, where he gets sued over and over– 4 million here, 40 million there– by everyone he’s ever slandered and that he slowly loses all of his ill-gotten money. I hope he has to sit there and hear every one of of his victims give testimony about how he stoked his fanbase to terrorize them, and all the terrible things he’s caused.
I hope it’s long and excruciating- but sadly it’ll never, ever be as painful as what those families and other Jones victims had to go through.
My book American Madness can be found here: American Madness : Feral House
I skipped this column a couple weeks (too busy) so let me plug our last two TWW podcast episodes:
In S5E6 I talked to Milwaukee author, musician and art witch Molly Roberts, author of the new book Art Magick: How to Become an Art Witch and Unlock Your Creative Power plus weird news, trivia, and a track from Molly’s band Tigernite, “Witch”: Tea’s Weird Week, S5 ep 06: Art Magick with Molly Roberts (podbean.com)
In S5E7 I interviewed Chris Drosner, one of my editors at Milwaukee Magazine and author of the “Beer Baron” column, weird news, trivia, and “League Play, a new track by Rum Revere: Tea’s Weird Week, S5ep07: Weird Beers (podbean.com)
They’re also available on these platforms: Spotify//Soundcloud//Google Podcasts//iHeartRadio//PlayerFM//Apple//Stitcher//Pocket Casts