Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to his mobile phone during a lunch stop, Feb. 18, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C.
Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Alex Jones’ ‘performance artist’ claim leaves Trump in awkward spot

Alex Jones has earned a reputation for being a bellicose conspiracy theorist who routinely shares some deeply odd ideas with his broadcast audience. For most of the American mainstream, watching Jones push some of his most offensive theories – the idea that the Sandy Hook massacre was a staged “false flag” event, for example – gives the impression that he may not be altogether stable.

It’s against this backdrop that Jones finds himself in a legal fight with Kelly Jones, the host’s ex-wife who is seeking custody of their children. Not surprisingly, she and her attorney are pointing to Alex Jones’ InfoWars content as proof of his unsuitability as a parent.

The Austin American Statesman reported over the weekend, however, that the host’s lawyer has a specific defense in mind to explain away his client’s over-the-top tirades.
At a recent pretrial hearing, attorney Randall Wilhite told state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo that using his client Alex Jones’ on-air Infowars persona to evaluate Alex Jones as a father would be like judging Jack Nicholson in a custody dispute based on his performance as the Joker in “Batman.”

“He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said of Jones. “He is a performance artist.”
The family’s legal dispute will apparently be decided by a Travis County jury in Texas, and as best as I can tell, it’s a private family matter.

That said, Jones has become a notable figure in conservative media, and if his own attorney describes his client as “a performance artist” – effectively characterizing Jones’ bizarre persona as a fictional “character” – that’s an important acknowledgement for the public to be aware of.

Indeed, not only have Jones’ outlandish conspiracy theories been taken seriously by Republican members of Congress, there’s also Donald Trump’s praise for Jones to consider.

Let’s not forget, for example, that during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, Trump appeared on Jones’ show as if the conspiracy theorist were a legitimate broadcaster. Trump specifically told Jones at the time, “Your reputation’s amazing.”

Now that Jones’ own lawyer has described the host as “a performance artist,” does the president stand by this praise?