By David Neiwert (Southern Poverty Law Center)
Radio host’s debate with notorious white supremacist, and subsequent attempts to cover tracks, results in accusations by fans that he’s controlled by Jews.
Alex Jones appears to regret having brought David Duke onto his program late last month for an extended interview.
An uproar among white nationalists immediately followed the interview, with one extremist after another proclaiming it proof that Jones, the popular conspiracist radio host who operates InfoWars, was working secretly on behalf of Jewish interests. The chorus of disapproval from Jones’ sector of the right-wing paranoid universe became so loud that Jones eventually took down the two-hour video from his own website (though others promptly put up copies of it), and deleted most references to it on his site, including comments from his fans.
In the meantime, the argument on the far right about Jones’ ostensible Jewish ties has continued apace.
It all began in mid-August when Jones issued a challenge to Duke, the longtime Klan and neo-Nazi leader, to appear on the air with him and debate him, in part because he and his staff had found instances in which Duke was found criticizing Jones, notably over Jones’ fondness for conspiracy theories about FEMA concentration camps.
“And then he goes into: ‘Alex Jones wants to scare you from being politically involved, and tell you you can be put in prison if you fight back.’ No, I said you’ll be put in prison, or enslaved or impoverished if you don’t fight back,” Jones complained.
“I’m gonna give Duke a chance to even play clips on this show, to show me where I said this and that, but don’t sit there and say something if you don’t have the meat and potatoes,” Jones said.
So three days later, Duke appeared on Jones’ radio show and remained for a full-two-hour interview.
For most of the first half of the affair, Jones and Duke appeared to be largely in agreement in their paranoid view of a New World Order-dominated America. But things started to drift apart when Duke became increasingly insistent on blaming the entire conspiracy on “Jewish supremacists” who he claims are engaging in a race war against whites, and who he said control the nation’s banks, its political officials, and its media.
“All right,” Jones said, “I’ve never had anybody Jewish try to stop me from covering the things I do, going over the things I do.”
Then he brought on his producer, Rob Jacobson, a Jewish man who was sitting in the studio. Jacboson began peppering Duke with questions about the logic and veracity of a number of his claims, pointing out that only one of the participants in the notorious Jekyll Island meeting of 1910 (a centerpiece of many New World Order conspiracy theories) was Jewish.
At that point, Duke became shrill and defensive, and even more loudly insistent in describing the nefarious results of various Jewish conspiracies. He and Jones swapped complaints about how much time he was being allowed to speak, which became a secondary focus of their debate. Duke complained that Jacobson – who kept interjecting with counterfactual material – was cutting him off. And after two hours, the interview ended on a sour and inconclusive note as Jones offered to bring Duke back yet again.
However, that does not appear likely now. Jones’ video of the interview was swamped with comments from Duke fans attacking Jones and Jacobson for having had the temerity to challenge Duke’s assertions about Jews, claiming that the two radio hosts had now proven that they were in the pocket of Jewish interests. Shortly afterward, Jones removed it from his YouTube page.
But the controversy only appeared to step up at that point, at least among the denizens of the conspiracist universe. On YouTube, in addition to copies of the original debate, videos headlined “Alex Jones Exposed as Zionist Shill by David Duke” and “Zionist Alex Jones Attempts to Bully Anti-Zionist David Duke” began appearing.
At the Conspiracy Outpost – a message board where people trade a variety of far-right theories – there was much discussion of Jones’ Jewish ex-wife. One commenter argued that “it is easy to observe that he was controlled by outside forces and possibly did this to Duke as a last ditch effort to save his life. He lost. BIG TIME.”
There was even criticism at the InfoWars community, where one diarist posted that Jones had “disappointed many of his loyal fans”: “Alex Jones must know that although he has done so much good for us in the fight for our liberty, he is failing on the most important topic of our times: Global Zionism.”
But the harshest criticism came from the neo-Nazi right. At The Daily Stormer, editor Andrew Anglin slammed Jones for taking down the video, noting that the comments on Jones’ own websites were running strongly in favor of Duke, even on threads not devoted to the debate: “The comments are all over his YouTube page, all over infowars.com. People are spamming his Twitter and that of [contributor] Paul Joseph Watson.”
Another Daily Stormer contributor, Lee Rogers, then composed an essay titled “Alex ‘Jew Wife’ Jones: The Looming Death of a Corrupt Dick Juice Driven Disinformation Empire,” which concluded: “Either way, unless his operations are further subsidized by Jewish financing, I do not see how he can sustain them for much longer in light of what has happened. I believe we are truly seeing the looming death of Alex Jones and his empire of disinformation.”
At the white nationalist Traditional Youth Network website, the headline read: “David Duke defeats Alex Jones: We Are Destined to Win.” The piece credits The Daily Stormer with provoking the debate, adding: “Had it not been for Daily Stormer’s activism, Jones’ listeners would have carried on assuming that Duke is a hateful and ignorant fool who wants to genocide black babies, but truth prevailed.”
Duke himself reveled in the fresh shot of attention. At his site, he posted a couple of videos ruminating on the “victory” in the debate, and issued a statement: “I don’t want to go on the warpath with Alex Jones,” Duke said. “But, I am shocked that this great debate that he promoted on his show, has suddenly disappeared from his website and channel. …. He should not [be] trying to send it down the memory hole and hide from his listeners.”
Duke, in the meantime, managed to keep up his penchant for making headlines: In Baton Rouge, he was ejected from a meeting of the United Daughters of the Confederacy at a hotel on the campus of Louisiana State University. According to news accounts, he was asked to leave the gathering after getting into an argument with someone about the Black Lives Matter movement. He claimed he had been invited to speak, but meeting organizers denied that.
And back at Jones’ site, the only trace of the great Duke-Jones debate that remains is the video of Jones’ challenge to Duke beforehand.