Yesterday, I talked about Alex Jones, but I did so with references to specific examples of the man’s behaviour from his show. You might wonder, Talen, do you watch his show? And the answer to that is no, no, I don’t.
Alex Jones’ work is one of those things people mostly experience as a few short viral moments; infamously, there’s the Turn The Frogs Gay clip, or some similarly ridiculous moment that people meme on.
The dude’s got the same basic DNA as a dozen other types of grifter from my own past. These days they’ve moved to ‘supplements’ rather than ‘cures’ but in the end it’s people selling you overpriced horse piss as ‘snake oil.’ I didn’t feel the need to delve into him because I kinda knew what I was looking at when I first saw him. Moment to go viral, pivot to an ad. Promote a weirdo to get their audience engaged with you, pivot to an ad. Frame the world as scary and doomed and dying, pivot to an ad.
When John Oliver did a segment explaining Alex Jones, he noted this exact structure:
But this is still a surface overview of the man and his process. It’s still something that Alex will claim ‘takes out of context’ the work he does, in general. If only there was someone, you wonder, who isn’t on Alex’s side, who say, watches the entire show and can provide exhaustive proof that no, he’s not being taken out of context, these things don’t get better with more information, and the figleaf of denial that Jones uses is just a tactic.
Well, what if I told you there’s someone who does?
Knowledge Fight is a podcast by two guys, who I know as Dan and Jordan, who I do not think would mind me limiting my investigation of their personal lives and identities to exactly that. In the context of the podcast, Dan is a man who works too hard on things, who one day was seized by a desire to put Alex Jones in a meaningful context, and so, watched (for a time) everything he did. Now, that’s not how things are now, but the show is still built around the model of taking some long, long form thing Alex did, and piece by piece pulling apart specific claims the show makes, and putting it into context. Jordan, a comedian, is there to sit and listen to this, and have a reaction as a normal human would to hearing the preposterous things that are put in front of him.
One of the things you’ll learn pretty quickly if you do this is that Infowars is wildly inconsistant, with almost every position Alex puts forwards being directly contradicted by something he said a week or more ago, every prediction being sourced back to its origin point and shown to be a flattering misinterpretation or generalised doomsaying, and that a large part of the comedy is from watching Jordan react to a man arguing one day that the sky is pink, then the next that the sky is green, and he’d always been saying that.
Alex Jones’ shows are four hours long; a Knowledge Fight episode hovers around the one-and-a-half, two hour mark. That’s what an episode of Info Wars looks like when it’s broken down into just the interesting bits, and then those interesting bits are addressed and given context. When you do that, you’ll realise just how shockingly lazy Alex Jones is — how many times he’s just reading headlines and making up a story about them on the fly, how many times rather than provide clips and let people talk in their own words about their positions to respond to them, he tells you a story with the same energy as a work colleague who wants you to hear about This Weird Dream He Had.
Knowledge FIght is a really long podcast to get into. There are over 700 episodes as I write this, and they don’t tend to be labelled in ways that explain themselves well. When you just grab one out of the blue, chances are you’ll be confused by what you get.
The basic structure of an episode runs like this:
- An opening theme, made by DJ Danarchy
- A standard opening, usually these days referencing Selene, Dan’s cat
- Jordan will ask Dan about his bright spot, where they talk about something unrelated to Infowars to have a positive engagement about
- A time and date for the current episode
- Inducting of the Policy Wonks, which is, saying thank you to the Patreon subscribers who have signed up since the last episode. Higher tiers get special titles like Technocrat and Raptor Princess. Depending on what got inducted, they then play a set of clips from Infowars, out of context. They are standardised to the highest level of Policy Wonk inducted. Raptor Princess gets weird.
- Then they run through the episode, where Dan will play a segment of the show, explain what Alex is talking about, and Jordan will react to that.
- Not uncommonly, you’ll hear Dan reference a ‘mic down’ moment, where he asks Jordan to keep away from the microphone so his immediate yell of a reaction doesn’t sound awful on the recording.
- The show draws to a close, and the hosts tell you the twitter handles of the pair.
This is how things normally go. There are two major threads of shows like this; the first is episodes from around 20 years ago, the 2003 era, which are useful for showing the way that Alex’s opinions haven’t moved much in twenty years and how he kept making clear, distinct, actionable predictions that don’t come true.
The other major thread is, of course, the shows this week, coming out right now. These are the most pertinent if you’re currently tracking the immediate story of Alex Jones’ legal situation. This is a way to get in-depth examination of these events that can go in-depth on things like legal structures and what constitutes defamation. This is what got me into the podcast, a desire to see these events chronicled clearly.
But wait, there’s more: There are a number of long-runner episodes that cover the depositions of the Infowars personnel leading up to the trial, which has stretched all the way back to 2019…
A set of episodes where Jordan is the one doing the research, rather than Dan…
And finally, they sometimes check in on the content put out by Project Camelot, which is it seems mostly about borderline schizophrenics writing space fanfiction. It’s a kind of media bubble where grifters and believers gather together to share stories about, you know, that Mars base that’s totally real.
Typically speaking, when it comes to ‘recommending a podcast’ I’d do that in a Story Pile or, more often, a Decemberween post. I don’t think Knowledge Fight is a particularly good Decemberween topic, because while I am probably going to listen to a few dozen hours of it come December, doesn’t mean I think that’s healthy for anyone else.
I think the reason Alex Jones belongs here in Dread Month is because this man is tangibly, one of the closest things you’ll see in your day to day life to an actual vampire. He has his little media empire, his space under his control, and that space is fuelled by draining the finances of people who are stuck there, people who are enthralled to him. There’s a direct correlation between how much he scares those people and how much of their money he gets, which means his tantrums and depressive moods are things he tries to directly pass on to his victims.
And they are victims: Overwhelmingly, the people who fall under the Alex Jones bubble are harmless mopes and dupes, people who feel the changes he’s talking about in the world, and see patterns that his conspiracy can explain, but don’t realise that those things are byproducts of things like a Real, Actual Corrupt Government. Now, the fact that they are victims does not diminish the fact that the vast majority of them are also awful shitheads who suck.