As police continue to investigate the mass shooting that left 14 people dead and 21 injured at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on Wednesday, unfortunately, some people are coming out with their own version of the story. One conspiracy theorist in particular, Alex Jones, has touted an absurd explanation for the tragedy: Jones suggests that the San Bernardino shooting was staged to "elicit widespread public outrage." As we've seen in the wake of previous mass shootings, his new theory is once again steeped in Second Amendment, pro-gun rhetoric. But perhaps what's even more disturbing than the theory itself is that presidential candidate Donald Trump is a major fan of Alex Jones and went on his radio show to praise the paleoconservative.
Just an hour before the San Bernardino shooting started, Trump appeared on Jones' radio show The Alex Jones Show for an interview that amounted to the two gushing over each other like fanboys. Jones told Trump, "My audience, 90 percent of them, they support you," and even went so far as to say that the way Trump has been campaigning is "George Washington level." He also noted that Trump worked his way up from nothing (which is not true) and called him a "true maverick."
On Trump's end, he was just as complimentary, telling the controversial conspiracy theorist:
Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.
Just what reputation is Trump referring to? Jones is perhaps the most incendiary, obnoxious, and — unfortunately — prominent conspiracy theorist of our time. He uses his radio show, The Alex Jones Show, and his website InfoWars.com to spew his aggressively right-wing theories, most of which blame the government on major tragedies like 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the slew of mass shootings we've seen in recent years. He has said that horrific tragedies like the Aurora shooting and the Sandy Hook shooting were both staged in order to create anti-gun sentiment that would make way for more gun control laws. So it's no surprise that hours after the San Bernardino shooting unfolded, Jones once again pushed a similar conspiracy theory.
In a December 2 article titled "San Bernardino Shooting Highly Suspicious," Jones writes:
The shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California does not fit the pattern of a typical mass shooting and appears to be geared to elicit widespread public outrage.
Jones brought up Sandy Hook again to emphasize his point:
- A shooting at a facility for people with developmental disabilities will undoubtedly result in widespread outrage, as did the alleged shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, 2012.
- Like Sandy Hook, the shooting in California will feed into a demand for so-called gun control measures.
It should go without saying that suggesting the Sandy Hook shooting, which claimed the lives of 20 children, was staged is utterly asinine and grotesque, but what warrants some attention here is that one of our presidential candidates actually supports the person spewing this nonsense.
No stranger to incendiary comments himself, Trump has practically become a one-man controversy machine, having insulted a laundry list of groups, from Mexicans to women to, most recently, Muslim Americans. However, even his brand of bigotry is no match for the kind of psychobabble that Jones is known for. But with a long campaign trail ahead, no one should underestimate just how crazy — and terrifying — Trump will continue to become.