Is Alex Jones a fraud?
via AP

Is Alex Jones a fraud?

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Alex Jones is in the middle of a custody battle that hinges on whether or not his persona on "InfoWars" is just performance artor if it's really him. Jones made his name by pushing grandiose conspiracy theories, like claiming that 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing and Sandy Hook were all "false flag" operations carried out by the U.S. government. Jones' lawyer says it's all just performance art, but his wife says he's unstable and actually believes what he says. What do you think?

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For the uninitiated, this is Alex Jones. He's mocked for his over-the-top videos that often end with him screaming into the camera. 

Here's how the Austin Statements describes Jones and his show. He played a huge role in motivating Donald Trump's base and has a huge reach across the nation. 

Alex Jones is an Austin original who, 21 years after he got his own show on Austin public access television, has become an unlikely popular and political force in the Donald Trump era, an ingenious and indefatigable conjurer of conspiracy theories about sinister global elites seeking to enslave the masses, who found, in Trump, a hero open to his shadowy narratives.
“Alex Jones and his Infowars’ umbrella of radio shows, YouTube and Facebook broadcasts, Internet website and tweets turned out to be Trump’s secret weapon,” Roger Stone, probably Trump’s oldest and closest political confidant, wrote in his book “The Making of the President 2016.” “His fiery words have struck a chord in the nation and he speaks for millions. In fact, more people follow Alex than watch Fox News or CNN.”
In addition to broadcasting his radio show on some 150 stations, had 7.6 million global unique visitors between March 16 and April 14 according to Quantcast, which measures web audiences and ranked 387th among all U.S. websites, not far behind, and

Jones' lawyers argue the person we see in InfoWars is not the real Alex Jones. He argues Jones is an actor who is playing the on-air InfoWars persona, like Stephen Colbert on "The Colbert Report."

“He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said of Jones. “He is a performance artist.”

Jones is currently in the middle of a custody battle with his former wife, who is seeking to gain sole or joint custody of their children, on the grounds that Jones is unstable and could be engaging in illegal activity. 

“I’m concerned that he is engaged in felonious behavior, threatening a member of Congress,” she said, referring to his recent comments about California Democrat Adam Schiff. “He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching him broadcast.”

Jones made his name for pushing narratives that often counter mainstream media consensus. During the 2016 campaign, Jones and InfoWars popularized conspiracy theories like Obama was the founder of ISIS and Clinton had a serious medical illness (and was covering it up). Many of Jones' viewers follow him because they think he will tell the truth when no one else will. Trump even went on Jones' show to promote his campaign. If it turns out he's just a performance artist, then Jones may be one of the most successful performance artists in history.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Jones insists everything he says is true.

"I have deep context for every claim I make," Jones insists. "I know some people say I exaggerate, but I believe everything I say. It's just that the denial is so strong, the apathy so deep, that people need something to shake them out of their morass. We're like flowers who naturally turn toward the sun, and the globalists want us turned toward Hollywood and the TV so they can poison us. It's like one of those drawings with a hidden pattern. Once you stare long enough, it appears. Then you wonder: How did I ever not see it?"

Jones' critics say Jones and InfoWars are all frauds. Performance art would be a charitable way to describe what he does. Critics say Jones is better described as a willful liar who's spreading paranoia and conspiracy to enrich himself. Media Matters even has a guide to all of Jones' conspiracies. Here's just a small sample of the things Jones' says he believes. 

He’s also pushed fringe conspiracy theories about how government elites are trying to manipulate or control the world through other covert actions. Jones claimed the government is secretly encouraging “homosexuality with chemicals so that people don't have children.” He’s claimed vaccines are part of a covert population-control program to give the country cancer or autism. And he also said the government is controlling weather through a “weather weapon,” spraying chemicals into the air for “genocide and population reduction,” and that the singer Beyoncé is a CIA operative who's been deployed to cause mayhem in cities.
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