Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“Truth vs. Alex Jones”: The era of fake news! The celebrity controls the minds of millions of viewers

It was December 2012. Students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, already had Christmas plans. For 6-year-olds, Christmas is the most important time of the year. Santa Claus, reindeer, hot chocolate and gifts – this is the beloved children's universe. 20 Newton children didn't make it to Christmas. On December 14, a 20-year-old murderer entered the primary school. Children died. Some died in the arms of teachers, six of whom also died. It would be another American school shooting. Another drama and another debate about violence and the right to possess firearms. But then he appeared – Alex Jones. An alt-right star who accused his parents and the entire town community of conspiracy and acting on behalf of the elites. In his opinion, the massacre never took place, but the parents are fake actors in a leftist spectacle aimed at depriving Americans of the right to possess firearms.

Shocking? Not for Americans, 24% of whom believed the shameful nonsense of Alex Jones, who built his media power on spreading the most extreme conspiracy theories. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, which raised Jones' theories to a new level of absurdity, he became known as one of their fathers.

He argued that the authorities in Washington control the minds of Americans by poisoning drinking water and cause floods to kill populations, and can also cause a tornado for the same purpose. There were also supposed to be chemicals in the water that turn frogs and people into… gays. He called President Donald Trump's opponents (including special prosecutor Robert Muller, who investigated Trump's ties with Russia) pedophiles in Satan's employ. He had a hand in spreading the “pizzagata” theory that Hillary Clinton and Hollywood elites kidnap children to drain their blood. All in the basement of a pizzeria chain whose owners are representatives of the LGBT community. In 2022, he became famous for the theory that the genocide against Ukrainians in Bucha never took place, but lies about the Sandy Hook school shooting hoax are the hallmark of his InfoWars media.

Jones and his InfoWars ultimately lost the lawsuit brought against them by the parents of the murdered children and must pay over almost one and a half BILLION dollars in damages. A film by Dan Reed, a famous director “Leaving Neverland”, shows the course of the trial that Alex Jones tried to turn into a show, focuses on the victims' parents, but also shows the mechanism of building fake news and the power of lies in the era of social media. This is not about conspiracy theories that appeared around the death of President Kennedy, the pandemic, the attack on the World Trade Center or the Smolensk disaster. The most popular conspiracy theories touch on various aspects of these events, but do not question that they took place. Jones, on the other hand, helped convince more than 70 million Americans that the school shooting never happened.

Documentary “The Truth vs. Alex Jones” shows how the method of persistently repeating the same lie still works. Even if this lie is completely absurd. The parents of the murdered children talk about the threats they received for “participating in the conspiracy.” They were demanded to release the hidden children and even perform autopsies. A supporter of this method of “verifying” events even speaks openly in the document. She is proud of being “on the side of truth”.

Alex Jones is a cynical businessman who still earns millions of dollars not only by spreading lies, but also by selling products such as iodine intended to protect Americans from water poisoned by the Obama and Biden administration. Reed precisely exposes Jones' cynicism and villainy. It shows how, off-camera, he tells his parents in a pleading tone that he does not question the massacre and that his show results from the right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. Seeing the HBO cameras are on, however, he assumes the attitude of a “defender of truth” attacked by the elites. This is the most important point of Reed's multi-dimensional documentary. Here is a “journalist” accusing the corporate media of spreading lies and “brainwashing”, who himself turns out to be an actor and showman, filming theater only with cameras turned on.

Alex Jones and his followers may not be the inventors of this theater, but in the 21st century they have been given powerful tools to make money on lies. Reed shows that Jones, a decade ago, tweaked a recording from CNN in his program, which was supposed to prove that the station's journalist never went to the town where the massacre took place, and everything was filmed in a studio. It was easy to expose Jones' lie by showing the original CNN recording and the version he played. But how can we fight against today's AI tools, especially deep fakes?

In an excellent book “Conspiracy” by Tom Philips and Jonn Elledge show that today's conspiracy theories are immersed in theories from centuries ago. Spread by the dangerous QAnon sect (I recommend another HBO documentary “Q: A storm is coming”) the theory about Hollywood pedophile elites kidnapping children and sucking their blood is, after all, based on old theories about Jews making matzah with the blood of Christian children. Everything has already been done, as Professor Hunham says last year “Winter Solstice” Alexander Payne. The difference, however, is in how quickly conspiracy theories spread and how instantly they poison the minds not of a handful of fanatics, but of millions of people. People are increasingly terrified of the changing world. People who need simple answers and a clearly defined enemy.

This is what Reed's documentary is about, making us realize how a cynic with access to an audience of millions can capture the collective imagination. Alex Jones is a demoralized businessman who will stop at any meanness to achieve his goal. His idol Donald Trump is a person from the same dark fairy tale. Trump was surprised that his cynical affair with the QAnon sect had a tangible dimension on the steps of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Alex Jones saw the consequences of his actions on the faces of parents who not only had to bury their children, but also fight to remember them after their death.

Final? Trump is now confidently taking another term in the White House, and Alex Jones has been reinstated on Portal X by Elon Musk. He also announced bankruptcy and does not intend to pay compensation, although the families agreed that he would ultimately pay them $85 million of the billion-dollar sum in installments. He will probably pay in the end, just as he apologized to the families and admitted that the Sandy Hook massacre occurred. Jones' lawyers based their defense on the view that he should not pay compensation because “no reasonable person could treat his theories as facts” (the same argument was used by the defenders of pornographer Larry Flynt, as shown in the excellent film Milos Forman “Scandalist Larry Flynt”). Well, until recently, no reasonable person believed that after the attack on the Capitol, Donald Trump would return to the fight for the leadership of the world's greatest power. Not so long ago, Alex Jones appeared alongside Kanye West, raving about his love for… Hitler. Welcome to Alex's world.


“Truth vs. Alex Jones” (The Truth vs. Alex Jones), dir. Dan Reed, USA 2024, the documentary is available on the HBO Max platform.