Media Matters executive vice president Angelo Carusone explained how conspiracy theories travel “directly” from Trump ally Alex Jones’ radio show to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman.
Jones, the host of the nationally radio program The Alex Jones Show, is a self-identified founder of the 9/11 Truth movement and promotes numerous conspiracy theories, including claiming that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and other national tragedies were events staged by the government.
Despite this background, Trump has appeared on Jones’ program and praised his “amazing” reputation. Jones has taken credit for policy positions advanced by Trump and has marveled at how “it is surreal to talk about issues here on air and then word-for-word hear Trump say it two days later.”
Conspiracy theories and attacks that have jumped from Jones’ show to the Trump campaign include claims that election will be rigged, calls for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to be jailed, conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health, and the claim Clinton used an earpiece during a debate.
A profile of Jones in the Austin American-Statesman explained how many conspiracy theories prevalent in the 2016 election make their way from Jones to the Trump campaign. Describing the phenomenon, Carusone told the American-Statesman that there used to be “two, three, four, five steps” between Jones and Trump, but in part because of the promotion of Jones by conservative website The Drudge Report, “It’s not working its way up the food chain any more. Donald Trump is consuming it directly.”
From the American-Statesman’s October 21 article:
But, as the 2016 campaign draws to a close, it’s becoming plain that Austin’s Alex Jones -- a right-wing broadcast personality and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire who until recently flew under the mainstream radar -- might as well be the voice in Donald Trump’s head.
Hillary for Prison. That’s Alex Jones. Obama founded ISIS. That’s Jones. The election is rigged. Again from Jones. Hillary Clinton is at death’s doorstep. Jones. And only drugs keep her going. Jones. Bill Clinton as rapist and Hillary his enabling enforcer. Jones.
[Trump adviser Roger] Stone saw how ripe Jones’ anti-globalist audience was for Trump’s nationalist appeal.
“The majority of them are under 50, and they are all engaged. They are part of this digital sharing economy. They are willing to get out on the streets and do stuff,” said Angelo Carusone, executive vice president of Media Matters for America, a not-for-profit progressive media watchdog group.
What few saw coming was a Republican presidential candidate with a weakness for conspiratorial thinking who prized the reporting of the National Enquirer and had his news consumption curated by Matt Drudge, who in the last five years switched his allegiance for political news of the weird from Glenn Beck to Jones.
“Drudge gave Jones a whole new audience and access to a whole new group of thought leaders, like Donald Trump,” Carusone said.
It used to be that there were “two, three, four, five steps” between Jones spinning a conspiracy theory and it gaining broader traction. But now, Carusone said, “It’s not working its way up the food chain any more. Donald Trump is consuming it directly.”