Good morning Austin:
Woe is unto Alex Jones.
Or so it seemed.
On Friday, Jones did the unthinkable. He apologized for his role in spreading the Pizzagate story.
“Alex Jones here with an important note for our viewing, listening and reading audience,” Jones began his six-minute recitation of a text obviously written by, or at least, at the instruction of his attorney or attorneys, and the text of which appeared on the screen as he read it, just in case Jones had any temptation to throw the very exacting script away and wing it.
But, no, it seemed from his tone and bearing that Jones had been told to make the apology, lest he provide his attorney or attorneys an opportunity to fatten their wallets at his expense in what might have made for a sensational libel case.
The apology ends six minutes later on what he or his attorney or attorneys must have thought an upbeat, albeit improbable note.
We encourage you to hold us accountable. We improve when you do.
It suggests a new theme for a man already widely acknowledged to be America’s great popularizer of conspiracy theories:
Alex Jones: Building better conspiracy theories since 2017.
But apologies in the world of conspiracy theorizing are problematic.
Being a conspiracy theorist ought to mean never having to say you’re sorry. If you do say you’re sorry, or seem to be obliged under pain of something to apologize, well, what’s up with that?
Did the globalists get to you? Do they have something on you? Or, more obviously, were you one of them all along?
As news of Jones’ apology went viral, these sort of suspicions started to percolate in the world that Alex Jones has come to dominate and one was left to wonder whether he had irreparably hurt his brand with his act of contrition.
But, by yesterday afternoon, Jones’ faithful could take heart.
Their man was back, in demeanor and ingenuity.
And, at the appointed time …
I don’t know that in nature there is a spider that can unspin a web.
But Jones is sui generis, and yesterday’s 19-minute video is a dizzying attempt to unspin one web while simultaneously spinning another – reframing Friday’s dour apology as simply the latest stroke of a brave and brilliant manuever by Jones, launched late last year, to sever ties from Pizzagate conspiracy mongering which, he had realized, with a flash of insight, was a diversion, fanned by the MSM (mainstream media), to protect the real cabal of international pedophilia, on which Jones will now devote his attention.
And not to worry, there is, Jones suggests, a Clinton (Bill), in the thick of that cabal.
Here is the statement Jones delivered on Friday.
Last fall before the Presidential election, a large number of media outlets began reporting on allegations arising from emails released by Wikileaks that appeared to come from John Podesta, who served Presidents Clinton and Obama and was the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Dozens of those stories and articles raised or discussed theories that some of Podesta’s emails contained code words for human trafficking and/or pedophilia. Stories also included allegations connecting members of the Democratic Party with a number of restaurants involved with a child sex ring. These stories were cited and discussed in social media and went viral on the Internet.
One of the persons mentioned in many of the stories in the media was a Washington, D.C. restaurant owner named James Alefantis, and his pizza restaurant Comet Ping Pong.
It is fair to say that Mr. Alefantis is a prominent individual who has been mentioned as a power player in Washington. Mr. Alefantis and his restaurant were mentioned in many stories published by a lot of different outlets. Mr. Alefantis was quoted in many subsequent stories, and he denied any involvement in such child sex rings. These denials were reported in national media and many other media outlets and news websites.
The volume of stories was substantial, generated national headlines and came to be known across the country as “Pizzagate.” We at Infowars became a part of that discussion. We broadcast commentary about the allegations and the theory that the emails contained code words. We raised questions about information in Mr. Podesta’s emails and the Comet Ping Pong restaurant. We believed at that time that further investigation was necessary. In December 2016 we disassociated ourselves from the “Pizzagate” claims and theories, a position we reiterated last month after being contacted by Mr. Alefantis.
In late February 2017, we received a letter from Mr. Alefantis asking that we retract certain statements that he says were made in seven of our broadcasts between the last week of November and the first week of December 2016. We have attempted, through our lawyers, to contact Mr. Alefantis to discuss with him what sort of statement he would like to see made.
In our commentary about what had become known as Pizzagate, I made comments about Mr. Alefantis that in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him. We were participating in a discussion that was being written about by scores of media outlets, in one of the most hotly contested and disputed political environments our country has ever seen. We relied on third party accounts of alleged activities and conduct at the restaurant. We also relied on accounts of reporters who are no longer with us. This was an ever-evolving story, which had a huge amount of commentary about it across many media outlets.
As I have said before, what became a heightened focus on Mr. Alefantis and Comet Ping Pong by many media outlets was not appropriate. To my knowledge today, neither Mr. Alefantis, nor his restaurant Comet Ping Pong, were involved in any human trafficking as was part of the theories about Pizzagate that were being written about in many media outlets and which we commented upon.
I want our viewers and listeners to know that we regret any negative impact our commentaries may have had on Mr. Alefantis, Comet Ping Pong, or its employees. We apologize to the extent our commentaries could be construed as negative statements about Mr. Alefantis or Comet Ping Pong, and we hope that anyone else involved in commenting on Pizzagate will do the same thing.
Here’s what we have done to clarify to the public. Months ago we took down the majority of broadcasts/videos including ones that only mentioned Pizzagate. This happened months before we were even contacted by Mr. Alefantis. Mr. Alefantis objected to portions of seven particular radio broadcasts. We have taken down those seven broadcasts and we have attempted to take down any broadcasts that mentioned Mr. Alefantis or Comet Ping Pong. We have attempted to do so not just on our website but also social media sites such as our YouTube channel. If Mr. Alefantis has other objections, we invite him to let us know. Two reporters who used to be associated with us are no longer with us. In a recent broadcast, I invited Mr. Alefantis on our program to state what he wanted to, and I again do so here. He has given interviews to many media outlets, and he is welcome to come on our show.
In issuing this statement, we are not admitting that Mr. Alefantis, or his restaurant, have any legal claim. We do not believe they do. But we are issuing this statement because we think it is the right thing to do. It will be no surprise to you that we will fight for children across America. But the Pizzagate narrative, as least as concerning Mr. Alefantis and Comet Ping Pong, we have subsequently determined was based upon what we now believe was an incorrect narrative. Despite the fact that we were far from the genesis of this story, it is never easy to admit when your commentaries are based on inaccurate information, but we feel like we owe it to you the listeners, viewers and supporters to make that statement, and give an apology to you and to Mr. Alefantis, when we do.
We encourage you to hold us accountable. We improve when you do.
There is a lot of blame-shifting in that statement. But hell, it’s an apology. By Alex Jones.
If you’ve got the time, you can relive the whole experience.
Jordan Sather, whose eyes were opened by Alex Jones, found his latest moves suspicious.
Could Sather be the next Alex Jones?
Well, we’re going to do a little body language analysis because he is under a huge amount of stress. We want to document how he reacts when he is sued by the big boys, I mean the big boys. The big boys in D.C. don’t play around. When the D.C. lawyers give you a phone call, when they write you a letter saying, `cease and desist, stop what you’re doing, ‘Alex Jones does exactly what he is told.
Look at those eyes. Those eyes tell you everything.
Watch the jaw movement. His jaw does some funny things when he is under stress.
It is clear he has to wipe the sweat off of his lips.
Jones didn’t say what prompted his apology but it may have been motivated by a letter Alefantis wrote to him in February. The letter demands an apology and retraction for InfoWars’ postings about Pizzagate; it does not threaten legal action, but refers to what Alefantis describes as “defaming” comments by InfoWars.
But the timing of Jones’s apology suggests he was concerned about a potential lawsuit. Under Texas law, the Austin-based Jones had to retract or apologize for the stories by Friday — one full month after receiving Alefantis’s letter — to avoid exposing InfoWars to punitive damages in a libel suit.
In a statement, Alefantis said, “I am pleased that Mr. Jones has apologized and admitted that he and his employees repeatedly spread falsehoods about me and my restaurant. I wish that he would have made this admission and apology months ago. And his apology, while welcome, does nothing to address the harm he and his company have done to me, my business, and my community.”
A spokeswoman for Alefantis said Friday that Alefantis and his attorney “continue to evaluate our legal claims.”
As the story spread, Alefantis and his employees received multiple death threats. The rumors culminated in December when a North Carolina man, Edgar Madisson Welch, came to the restaurant with a loaded assault rifle and handgun in what he called an attempt to investigate the claims. He fired the rifle several times while inside the restaurant, according to court documents.
Welch coincidentally pleaded guilty on Friday to weapons and assault charges in an agreement with federal prosecutors in the District.
InfoWars wasn’t the principal progenitor of the false story. The story spread primarily through such user-generated sites as Reddit and 4chan, as well as through fake-news websites and social media.
Among the more damaging elements cited by Alefantis in his Feb. 22 letter was InfoWars’ role in encouraging its followers “to go out and investigate the ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory, to come to my restaurant and investigate lies.”
In his statement, Alefantis noted, “We can all hope that Mr. Jones’ retreat is the beginning of a process to hold accountable the people who motivated an armed gunman to travel across state lines and fire his weapon in a family-friendly restaurant.”
From Eli Rosenberg in the New York Times”
The hoax has had real-world consequences. The pizzeria, Mr. Alefantis and his employees have been besieged by threats. Nearby businesses have also been affected. And the hoax has even spread to several other pizzerias around the country.
“It’s been a roller coaster of emotion and fear,” Mr. Alefantis said, in a telephone interview on Saturday, noting that he was still receiving daily threats online. “Good days and bad days.”
Mr. Alefantis’s restaurant was closed for two days in December, after the police arrested a man, Edgar M. Welch, 28, a father of two from North Carolina, who they said showed up at Comet Ping Pong to investigate the claims and fired a semiautomatic rifle he had brought with him inside the pizzeria. Mr. Welch pleaded guilty on Friday to assault with a dangerous weapon and interstate transportation of a firearm and will be sentenced in June.
In an interview a few days after his arrest, Mr. Welch told The New York Times that he listened to Mr. Jones’s show, saying that the host “touches on some issues that are viable but goes off the deep end on some things.”
But the theory lives on. A small group of protesters showed up outside the White House on Saturday, holding signs that asked why the news media was covering up child trafficking and demanding an investigation into Hillary Clinton, Mr. Alefantis and John Podesta, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, in connection with the hoax.
Mr. Alefantis said his restaurant has spent nearly $70,000 on two guards to stand at the entrance during business hours. A neighbor who runs a security company helped install an alarm system and a network of cameras — both inside and outside the restaurant — as well as panic buttons to alert the local police.
Last weekend, about 10 Pizzagate theory adherents held a protest in front of the restaurant. Mr. Alefantis said no one but Mr. Jones has ever apologized to him.
“Honestly I wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” he said. “These lies and falsehoods spread about me and my restaurant exist all over the place. The damage that has been done to my company and business and my community, all will remain forever.”
Austinites will recall that, as Matthew Odam reported at the end of the first week of December, Jones’ Infowars’ prodigy and sidekick Owen Shroyer was fomenting wacky Pizzagate suspicions directed at East Side Pies in Austin, though it proved very short-lived.
That same week, Jones still had one foot in the Pizzagate conspiracy camp an one foot out.
As I wrote in a First Reading that week:
After the election, I did a First Reading and story on Jennifer Mercieca who is wring a book, The Rhetorical Brilliance of Donald Trump, in which she described a favored Trump technique, which also gets quite a workout at InfoWars.
Alex Jones is now responsible for projecting and explaining the world as Donald Trump, if recent experience is any guide, will most probably come to see and understand it. You, Alex Jones, are the architect of Trump’s reality and, it is not too much to say, the fate of the world depends on you executing that responsibility with some relative probity.
This is even more true now than it was the day it was written.
Virtually every jaw-dropping thing that Trump has said since then – from his claim of massive voter fraud to his claim that former President Obama was spying on him – has Alex Jones’ fingerprints on it, either as originator or popularizer.
And, for Jones, Pizzagate was a case study of paralipsis on steroids.
From Bryan Menegus at Gizmodo on Dec. 5.
Two of the most vocal (and visible) entities propping up pizzagate’s absurd claims were, predictably, arch-troll Mike Cernovich and the Alex Jones’ Infowars. In a tweet yesterday, Cernovich claimed that pizzagate was not his story and that “I’ve even said not sure about it.” A Periscope video he posted two weeks ago, however, is titled “Yes #PizzaGate is true — what fake news media won’t report.” A Twitter poll he conducted yesterday concluded that 60% of his audience on the platform fully believes in the veracity of the pizzagate community’s findings, a notion which is certainly helped by Cernovich treating idle speculation as reportable fact.
“You can’t then just have people go through these things randomly and say ‘oh this pizza place must be the center of it all’” Jones—a Gizmodo fan—said in a video posted to Infowars’ YouTube channel today. He took the opportunity to remind his 1.8 million viewers that “pizza” is “a super common word” which does not reasonably prove any connection to pedophilia. Previously, Infowars posted several videos on the topic—most notably one titled “Pizzagate Is Real”—racking up close to 2 million views total as a result of the conspiracy. “When I really caught up to it was about two weeks ago,” Jones says in the same backpedaling 9-minute non-apology. The first Infowars video on the subject, which features Jones himself, was posted on November 5th.
The core problem with riling up people susceptible to conspiracy theories is that even if movement agitators like Cernovich and Jones publicly renounce pizzagate, their followers are happy to keep up the investigation—even after one of the believers discharges a weapon in a restaurant.
Pizzagate was featured on 60 Minutes last night as a prime example of fake news.
Alex Jones went unmentioned. It was left to Cernovich to defend Pizzagate as the real deal.
James Alefantis: It went from a few people buzzing about something online or inside of chat rooms that we never would have seen before, to suddenly being blasted to millions and millions of people.
The police say there is no sex-trafficking conspiracy. But millions read about it on dozens of websites including one called “Danger and Play,” which wrote, “Clinton’s inner circle includes child traffickers, pedophiles and now members of a sex cult.” “Danger and Play” is written by Michael Cernovich, a Southern California lawyer who describes himself as “right-of-center politically,” but who has become a magnet for readers with a taste for stories with no basis in fact.
Scott Pelley: These news stories are fakes.
Michael Cernovich: They’re definitely not fake.
Scott Pelley: They’re lies.
Michael Cernovich: They’re not lies at all. 100-percent true.
What I’m doing is, it’s punchy, it’s fun, it’s counterintuitive, it’s counter-narrative, and it’s information that you’re not gonna see everywhere else.”
Scott Pelley: Do you believe that, or do you say that because it’s important for marketing your website?
Michael Cernovich: Oh, I believe it. I don’t say anything that I don’t believe.
Scott Pelley: That doesn’t seem like a very high bar.
Michael Cernovich: It’s a high bar because I’m an attorney. I know how to weigh and measure evidence.
Michael Cernovich: Here’s the story of my life.
Cernovich streams commentary daily and publishes on social media. He reached Twitter users 83 million times last month.
Michael Cernovich: That was a slow month, too. We hit 150 million sometimes. What I’m doing is, it’s punchy, it’s fun, it’s counterintuitive, it’s counter-narrative, and it’s information that you’re not gonna see everywhere else.
In August, he published this headline.
Scott Pelley: “Hillary Clinton has Parkinson’s Disease, physician confirms.” You don’t think that’s misleading?
Michael Cernovich: No.
Scott Pelley: You believe it’s true today?
Michael Cernovich: Oh, absolutely.
That story was sourced to an anesthesiologist who never met Clinton. It got so much traction it had to be denied by Clinton’s doctor and the National Parkinson Foundation.
Michael Cernovich: She had a seizure and froze up walking into her motorcade that day.
Scott Pelley: Well, she had pneumonia. I mean–
Michael Cernovich: How do you know? Who told you that?
Scott Pelley: Well, the campaign told us that.
Michael Cernovich: Why would you trust the campaign?
Scott Pelley: The point is you didn’t talk to anybody who’d ever examined Hillary Clinton.
Michael Cernovich: I don’t take anything Hillary Clinton is gonna say at all as true. I’m not gonna take her on her word. The media says we’re not gonna take Donald Trump on his word. And that’s why we are in these different universes.
A few hours before 60 Minutes aired, there was Jones, depicting his Pizzagate apology as only the natural conclusion of his wisdom and prescience on the matter, in the teeth of a nefarious mainstream media.
Of his apology to Alefantis, Jones said:
Why did I do that? Because I plan to go on the offense against real child traffickers and those abusing children, and since Dec. 1 of last year, I have told my crew at Infowars that I believed this to be a manufactured controversy by MSM to discredit those researching and exposing the epidemic of powerful elites across the world exploiting and abusing children.
So to be clear, the reason I put this letter out to Mr. Alefantes is because I believe he and his employees are innocent people who have been sucked into it just like I was sucked into it. And if MSM would just be honest, they would track back and see this for themselves. But regardless, I did this because it is the right thing to do, just like by Dec. 1 clicked on to what was going on and have been proven right yet again.
My entire system, my entire economy is about being genuine and telling the truth. I said there were no WMD’s in Iraq in 2003. I told you that Donald Trump was going to win the election and the polls were fake. I told you that household appliances were having spy systems put into them 15 years ago because I had the schematics. It’s now on the news.
The truth, ladies and gentlemen, is we’re cutting edge. We’re trailblazers at Infowars. And my whole world is about telling the truth and being honest and having integrity. And so that’s why, when I saw us being sucked into MSM picking up the most obscure rumors on line and magnifying it, and I saw us reporting on it, I had everything we put up removed because I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire, and I went on the TV and the radio in early December and told our listeners it was a distraction. But of course MSM is still out there lying, claiming that I just retracted all of this because Alefantis sent us a letter.
No, I openly and officially retracted and apologized, because that’s the way of clearly cutting off the lies saying I’m promoting this damn things when, since Dec. 1, I have been publicly against it and I can sleep good at night knowing that all of that will come out whether there is an true investigation or, if there is any court action.
I stand on the truth and nothing more, and I’m not going to let the exploiters of children, like Mr. Epstein or Bill Clinton, who’s clearly involved, and others sit there and distract and divert to a lower politico, who I believe they have been using all along, just like they’re using me. And that’s why I’m angry and that’s why I’m speaking out and that’s why I’m telling the truth about what happened.
Some of our viewers – the abuse of children and their exploitation is very serious – so when you go with half-baked conspiracies and you run around saying I’m trying to cover this up, because I’m trying to uncover the truth, you add to the hysteria and you create a smokescreen that distracts from the real, bona fide, meat and potatoes issues that we can prove and then that gives political cover to the real child abusers that are there.
To all the pedophiles and all the scum and all the controllers out there who think they are going to use these distractions and these mainstreams media lies to have a smokescreen to abuse children, Infowars is going on the offensive against the organizations that are known and documented, like the United Nations and others, to be involved in this.
But some of the comments on Jones’ tweet yesterday suggest that not everybody was buying his apologia.