When it comes to conspiracy theorists, Alex Jones is king. He's built a multimillion dollar empire proclaiming that, among other things, 9-11 was an inside job and that mass shootings are staged by the government as a pretence to pass stricter gun laws.
But like all good showmen, you have to understand his early work to truly appreciate him as an artist. Like that time around New Year's Eve 1999, when a 25-year-old Alex Jones just started making shit up about the chaos that was supposedly going on around the world.
Many people were concerned that the Y2K bug would unleash a torrent of confusion when some of the world's computers thought it was the year 1900 instead of the year 2000. The Y2K panic was in many ways like Christmas for conspiracy nuts. And Jones was happy to play Santa Claus, even if he had to stretch the truth during his 3-hour show.
Bill Cooper, a competing conspiracy theorist, played extended clips from the Alex Jones show just a few days later. Cooper seemed to believe that the Y2k bug and Jones himself were a kind of false flag operation to stir panic in the populace.
If you listen to the Y2K broadcast, it's clear that Jones spent his entire show trying to whip his listeners into a frenzy of panic and confusion. We've pulled some choice quotes below, but you can listen to large portions of the broadcast on YouTube.
Nobody can get cash in Europe! Putin is a demon of the New World Order! Tens of thousands will perish!
Cash machines are failing in Britain and now other European countries. They're finding large amounts of explosives in France. Vladimir Putin, who is known as Vladimir the Ruthless, using all his profanity on national TV, you name it. We won't read the profanity here but we've got it — this person is on an unbelievable power trip and resembles a demon. He is a creature of the IMF and the World Bank and International Communism. He is a former KGB head and this information is vital ladies and gentleman.
We're seeing the New World Order really come out in full force. More wars than have been in the past 50 years are going on right now. The war in Chechnya is raging in Rosney with reports of hundreds to thousands dying.
Twenty to forty thousand civilians trapped in the city. Russian hinds are being shot down, tanks are being blown to bits. Massive grod unguided rocket attacks are being launched from the city indiscriminately right now. Air and artillery bombardments as well. It's absolutely out of control, it is pandemic ladies and gentlemen.
Pandemic, indeed. More wars in that moment during December 1999 than in the previous 50 years? Not quite.
Alex Jones first landed on the national radio scene in 1996 when his Austin-based show The Alex Jones show was syndicated to 140 stations around the country. From there his empire grew, and he has profited greatly from the fear and paranoid thinking of others. It's unclear if Jones even believes half of the things that he says. But given the reality that so much of it is untrue or a wild distortion of the facts, it doesn't really matter.
During the show, Jones became fixated on the fact that a lone power plant in Pennsylvania had gone offline. This was somehow a conspiracy theory that was surely related to Y2K, according to Jones. And don't even bother going to the store for supplies. You're already too late.
I'll give you the news first on Y2K, the newest developments: a Pennsylvania nuclear plant has been shut down. One of the main systems transferring the power from it failed, but they say it's not a Y2K problem. And the things happening here in Austin, Texas. The shelves are empty of water and some gas stations are running out of fuel. Here in central Texas and in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the shortwave is basically down, ladies and gentlemen. It went off right as I went on the air.
That nuclear plant that was shut down? Jones insisted that it was sign of a terrible calamity or conspiracy. But according to the Associated Press, an insulator had simply failed, which is a relatively minor problem when it comes to nuclear power plants. One of the two reactors had been temporarily shut down out of an abundance of caution. But Jones was having none of it — he seemed to want to make it appear like every nuclear power plant on the planet was about to melt down.
But wait, there's more! The government FEMA camps are going to house the "troublemakers" soon! Because of all the riots! And they're going to shut down the airwaves so that the real news can't get out!
Thanks Obama! I mean, thanks Clinton!
The occupational government in Washington, D.C. has setup a huge $US50 million dollar command bunker hooked into all the FEMA boxes that can take over all the shortwave broadcast and commercial AM and FM stations, as well as television broadcast stations. And we hope they do not activate that, ladies and gentlemen.
Police and military are on high alert, running around, looking for supposed boogie men and terrorists under every rock. Military are highly visible now. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there are trains of military equipment moving into Austin. Two nights ago, on Wednesday night, Fox News reported that the airport will be used as a massive holding facility for troublemakers or rioters here in Austin — that has no history of riots.
Not only that, but world economies were collapsing! And vital supplies are being withheld! They're turning off the gas! And don't forget the Russians! They're threatening to blow us up with nuclear weapons!
Their currency is plunging, the Egyptian pound is plunging against the dollar, the Japanese yen, the Deutsch Mark, and the, uh...just all of it. It's... and the same thing is starting to develop here in America. Many of the gas stations here in Austin have the little gloves over the pumps saying they're out of fuel. You never see this in Austin, Texas. Right there in south Austin, I've seen several stations. We don't know. This is just Y2K that was here. Just bizarre behaviour.
Americans standing up as Russia threatens to attack us with nuclear weapons, as nuclear power plants — at least one — are being shut down. And the military runs around with the police and the FBI, saying terrorism is eminent.
And some would characterise us as dangerous because we report the facts.
Jones was very much a product of the 1990s, fixating on the massacre in Waco when the federal government stormed a cult compound run by David Koresh in 1993. To Jones it was a gross example of the government abusing powers it didn't rightly have. Jones even helped rebuild the Branch Davidian's church in 2000, helping raise money for it through his radio show.
Everywhere Jones turned, he saw examples of government abuse. The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 by Timothy McVeigh was another event that would set Jones off, this time because he believed that McVeigh hadn't actually carried out the bombing — to him, it was another false flag operation perpetrated by the government.
The Alex Jones conspiracy machine really kicked into high gear after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. And he's spent the better part of the past two decades insisting that there is a conspiracy around every corner.
Fluoride? A government conspiracy to cause cancer.
Contrails? They're actually chemtrails used for weather control.
The Sandy Hook shooting? The Boston marathon bombing? The shooting at a black church in Charleston? They were all orchestrated by the government to spread fear and further manipulate the American population.
It seems in the world of Alex Jones, practically every atrocity is a product of the government's evil machinations.
Jones profits from the paranoia of the masses, and has plenty of products for sale at his website to help you prepare for the apocalypse. But next time you hear him spouting something about impending global chaos and catastrophe, remember where he came from. To truly understand Jones and his ilk, start with his early catalogue of calculated hysteria.
Picture: Alex Jones in 1999 via YouTube