After several years, I’m back in the Texas Observer, with an update on how Alex Jones is promoting a new anti-LGBTQIA moral panic:
Alex Jones remains a toxic influence on American politics and society despite an apparently shrinking audience and dwindling sales at his Infowars online shop, plus mounting losses in a bevy of lawsuits. After decades of spreading anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry, Jones now wants to stage a comeback by positioning himself at the front of a new wave of hatred—with the help of powerful friends like Republican U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.
“Alex Jones Broke The Groomer Gate Scandal … in 2008?!” read an incredulously phrased headline on a story published by Infowars in April. The post links an audio recording by Jones— in which he claims elementary school teachers are giving explicit sexual instructions to 6 or 7 year olds—to today’s “groomer” panic. “Grooming” refers to a behavior whereby pedophiles ingratiate themselves with a potential underaged victim. But right-wing pundits, including Jones, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and the viral Twitter account @LibsofTikTok, now seemingly want to expand the definition to include openly LGBTQ+ teachers or anyone who speaks with young people about the existence of transgender people and gender diversity.
Jones got his start in the ‘90s on Austin public access television before transitioning to radio and, by 1999, an online presence at Infowars. A 48-year-old originally from the Dallas area, Jones has routinely engaged in homophobia over his long career, sometimes with perversely humorous results, as in 2015 when he condemned “chemicals in the water” for “turning the friggin’ frogs gay.” More seriously, he also helped spread the dangerous, homophobia-laden Pizzagate conspiracy that culminated in a shooting at a pizzeria. So far in 2022, Infowars has accused a wide variety of groups of grooming or sympathizing with groomers, including educators, former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the Disney Corporation, corporate media, and the “left” in general.
Read more in the Texas Observer.