Most of us had only a faint awareness (if any) of Alex Jones and his crass conspiracy-pushing InfoWars before 2015. Jones was a cartoon character, a side-show, a highway accident we may slow down for to engage in a bit of soon-forgotten rubbernecking. He was not to be taken seriously -- and wasn't.
When another cartoon came onto the political scene as a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, the announcement he would be appearing on InfoWars to be "interviewed" by Jones was met with snickers and the popping of popcorn. Reality show fake billionaire kook Donald Trump was a promise of real entertainment.
That was my first real awareness of InfoWars. Alex Jones was a big "birther" proponent, claimed there was no Sandy Hook massacre of 6 year-olds and faculty, as he proceeded to help Trump promote any and every lie that popped into his fluffy, hair sprayed orange head.
Little by little I noticed people I'd previously had no reason to regard as "off" posting pieces by InfoWars on social media. It was clear they had no idea what InfoWars was, or that their own credibility could be called into question for posting from the site. Similarly, equally disruptive, false "articles" and hit pieces from Breitbart were making the rounds, spread like viruses in a pre-school by people who didn't know better, but should have, along with the hired smear merchants who prey on the ignorance of others. Once alerted, some ceased spreading the garbage, while others, afraid to admit they'd been conned, doubled down.
People who get their "news" from the "fwd, fwd, fwd" email chains were particularly vulnerable. Trump, with the help of his long time political advisor Roger Stone, a virtual outcast from Republican and media circles for decades, brought InfoWars, Breitbart and other fake news sites into the mainstream.
What most initially determined was harmless fun, paying attention to a clown like Jones and other proponents of conspiracy garbage and lies, just today came to light as a serious issue, with consequences.
InfoWars DC Bureau Chief, conspiracy theorist and all around nutcase, Jerome Corsi, was today subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Corsi, an avowed birther, is also a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and claims Barack Obama was once married to a man.
Jones and Corsi's close collaboration with Mueller target and top Trump confidante for decades, Roger Stone, appears to be of interest to Mueller. As well, Infowars has lost it's space on YouTube and Facebook as, in their best "better late than never" move, they banned it in the interest of fighting fake news.
Twitter needs to ban Jones, and should also consider the same for some of the other sites purporting to be "news" -- or at least ensure a special designation for them so that no one can ever confuse Breitbart, InfoWars and a few others (The Federalist and Daily Caller come to mind) with actual news organizations.
Clean it up now. It's way overdue.