Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is reportedly trying to downplay his connections to fringe conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones.
Bloomberg Politics' David Weigel reported that when “asked whether he regretted talking to Jones, Paul demurred,” stating: “I've been pretty open to doing a lot of interviews with a lot of different people ... And people want to characterize one or two of them, whether they're on the right or left, you know, they're welcome to do it. But I've been pretty open to doing interviews and it's one way to get the information out.”
Weigel added: “Asked if he listened to Jones's show, Paul said that he simply didn't listen to much news. 'When I'm brushing my teeth in the morning I turn on the news channel,' he said, 'but I'm busy all day.'”
Paul's suggestion that his connection to Jones was just a random media appearance is disingenuous: Paul has made numerous appearances on Jones' radio program since the 1990s and admitted Jones and his audience were integral to helping him win his first Senate race.
Further, Jones said yesterday that Paul has “been a listener of this show for years.”
As Media Matters documented, Jones endorsed Paul, turned out listeners to his events, and partnered with Paul for fundraising. Since Paul's election to the Senate, Jones has continued to serve as a key Paul booster, including endorsing him for 2016 and attacking Paul's critics.
During a 2010 appearance about his candidacy, Paul told Jones and his listeners, “we can't do it without you.” He has also described Jones as one of the first people to give him “a fair shake” and “representation” in the political debate. And Paul said he hears from Jones fans “across the country and all across Kentucky” and their support “shut down my website 'cause they overdid it.”
Paul previously acknowledged that he got information from Alex Jones. On his radio show in January, Jones told listeners that while it may seem like Paul has moderated his views, he is merely “playing politics.”
Paul has been a longtime guest on The Alex Jones Show, originating from Jones' friendship with Rand's father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). Jones said last year he first interviewed Rand in 1996 and was “probably one of the first people to ever interview” him.
It is hard to overstate Jones' fringe beliefs. He believes the government was behind the 9/11 attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, and the mass shootings in Aurora, Sandy Hook and Tucson (among others). He recently claimed Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “was totally set up,” and “we know it was fake.” He posits that a cabal of secretive global elites is working behind the scenes to, in the words of one of his films, “exterminate 80% of the world's population, while enabling the elites to live forever with the aid of advanced technology.”
Paul appears to have stopped going on Jones' program after an April 2012 appearance. Jones explained in January that he “could get Senator Paul back on the show -- quite frankly, it doesn't really even boost ratings, we can play clips of what he has to say. I just leave him alone, because in a way, I don't even like the fact that we're gonna to get a bunch of attention in the political season coming up, as they take stuff I've done out of context and try to project it onto Ron Paul and Rand Paul.” Jones added that Paul has “distanced himself a few degrees from his father and from this show.”
Some conservative media outlets have raised questions about Paul's connections with Jones, including the Free Beacon and National Review, which wrote “Paul's own views have veered into conspiratorial territory,” including when “Paul sat for interviews with the talk-radio host Alex Jones, a 9/11 truther whose audience donated generously to Paul's campaign.”