By Josue Monroy
In the wake of the assault on the Capitol almost two weeks ago, Alex Jones, one of the internet’s preeminent alt-right conspiracy theorists, broke ranks with the loose alliance of extremists by admonishing QAnon during one of his segments on InfoWars last week.
In a widely-circulated video that racked up more than 2.3 million views on Twitter, Jones berated an alleged QAnon-affiliated individual who had called into his show after seemingly having heard enough of their musings and accused them of lying and being “ full of shit.”
“[E]very god damn thing out of you people’s mouths doesn’t come true. And it’s always ‘oh, there’s energy,’ ‘oh, now we’re done with Trump.’ You said he was the messiah! You said he was invincible! You said that it was all over. That they were going to Gitmo and now that he’s part of a larger thing of Q,” screamed Jones at the camera while wildly flailing his arms. “I knew what you were day one, I know what you are now, and I’m sick of it.”
Donald Trump | Alex Jones | QAnon Supporter (Getty Images/Salon)
QAnon, the conspiracy theory that claims the Democratic establishment and Hollywood elite run an underground pedophile ring that Donald Trump is working to bring down, has become a movement parallel to Jones’ own brand of conspiracy-peddling. QAnon supporters were among the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan 6., with many waving flags emblazoned with the signature “ Q” representative of the movement.
Jones, who is based in Austin, Texas, has shown ambivalence towards the movement, although he has repeated their claims of a pedophilic elite cabal conspiracy in the past, and he has apparently had enough of it.
The alt-right shock jock was also present at the “Save America” rally in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 in support of President Trump’s claims of a fraudulent election. He called for calm and order from the crowd in marked contrast to what QAnon supporters would engage in later in the day.
A long-time fringe media personality, Jones, 46, is more widely-known for his claims that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut was fabricated by the mainstream media and gun-control proponents, a claim that embroiled him in a lawsuit which resulted in him paying damages of $100,000 to some of the victims’ parents.
Jones has been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump since his campaign for the Republican nomination and eventually the presidency began in 2015. Jones has had Trump on his show InfoWars multiple times in the past, and even boasted that the then recently-elected Trump had allegedly called Jones to personally thank him in 2016. Jones frequently proclaimed that Trump was going to bring down the elite in the country and save it from so-called “Globalist” powers.
Their fervent support for Trump was what brought Jones’ audience and followers of “ Q” together in what became an unbridled expansion of the conspiracy theory universe online. However, the apparent rift between the two factions might not be easily mended by common faith in a soon-to-be former president.
Tim Gionet, better known as “ Baked Alaska,” was among the crowd that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6., and live streamed the event on Dlive, a blockchain live streaming service. He filmed himself and other Trump supporters milling around the premises, and at one point the video shows him picking up a telephone to make a fake call making claims of a stolen election.
Gionet, 33, came to prominence online in 2016 through multiple videos espousing far-right, white nationalist and anti-Semitic viewpoints. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Gionet initially gained notoriety in 2014 on the defunct short-form video platform Vine, earning him a wide following. Since 2016, he has risen to become one of the most recognizable alt-right figures on the internet throughout various social media and live streaming sites. Since then, he has been banned on multiple sites including Youtube, Twitter and Facebook.
Gionet’s 27-minute livestream has inadvertently helped authorities in their investigation into the incident, and charges have been brought against him.
“The defendant is a known social media personality and is thus recognizable,” read a statement by FBI agent Nicole Miller that accompanied the charges.
The video also gave the FBI faces of people who were at the scene; all of which became persons of interest and were featured in an FBI poster seeking help identifying them.
Charges against Gionet include “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority” and “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.” He was arrested in Houston on Saturday, according to the Associated Press.
The federal crackdown on Baked Alaska and other participants in the deadly riot in Washington D.C. has other alt-right personalities treading lightly in the days since, aiming to avoid a similar fate.
Another prominent far-right figure connected to the Capitol insurrection is Illinois native Nick Fuentes. He was spotted at the Capitol steps during the lead-up to the siege of the building, although he was not filmed or photographed inside, and has been an organizer of various “Stop the Steal” rallies held in support of Trump’s claims of election fraud. Fuentes is a rising star in the alt-right and has caught the attention of traditional conservatives and fringe conspiracists alike, despite his apparent disdain for establishment politics.
Fuentes, 22, began his career while still a teenager through a radio and television channel run by his high school. He has hosted the podcast America First with Nicholas J. Fuentes since 2017, and soon after its inception made controversial statements encouraging viewers to “kill Globalists” and to deport individuals who “run CNN.” Fuentes also attended the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, causing the broadcaster of his podcast, Right Side Broadcasting Network to part ways with him.
Shapiro for not being pro-Trump enough. However, he has also gained the support of conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, who has called herself the “mommy” of the Groyper movement.
In the fallout of the Capitol attack, Fuentes has called out Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Twitter for a video Giuliani posted to Youtube on Jan. 8 citing Fuentes as a source corroborating that Groypers and antifa had colluded in inciting violence at the Capitol. Fuentes vehemently denies this, taking to Twitter on Jan. 19:
“Rudy Giuliani calls for ‘Trial by Combat’ an hour before the Capitol Siege and now he is going to FALSELY and recklessly accuse young Trump supporters of organizing with antifa? It’s a blatant LIE and it’s despicable. Throwing your own supporters under the bus!”
Fuentes has also accused the media of lying about his involvement in the riot, claiming that they are falsely identifying him in Baked Alaska’s livestream footage. Additionally, in a broadcast on Jan. 15, he stated then retracted that his supporters should destroy their mobile devices if they were inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“They probably have it all, but as a precaution, yeah, probably destroy your phone, your SIM card, all that information,” he stated, responding to a viewers comment on the matter.
Fuentes immediately backpedaled, however, adding, “I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know. Is that legal to say? Maybe don’t do that? I’m gonna say don’t do that, for my legal sake!”
He also lamented not being able to speak more freely due to the unwanted scrutiny, saying that “the feds were watching him” and that he “couldn’t say anything cool anymore.”
The aggressive federal investigation into the Capitol breach has many alt-right organizations on their heels, with members of the Oath Keepers being the latest to be charged in connection to the riot. As more details come to light, there might be even more division on the horizon for the movement.
Josué Monroy is a 4th year International Relations major at UC Davis. Hailing from Santa Cruz, CA, his interests include Latin American literature and politics, as well as playing music in his spare time.