Here's one more thing that'll keep progressives who are wary about the state of their nation up at night. According to a report from the New York Times, President Donald Trump is still talking to Alex Jones, one of the foremost far-right conspiracy theorists in America today. At least, that's what Jones himself claimed to the Times, telling Jim Rutenberg that he's had contact with the president and has urged him to pursue different lines of attack that sync tightly with the litany of conspiracy theories pushed by his website.
For example, Jones told Rutenberg that he suggested Trump bring up the fallacious claim that three million illegal votes were cast for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. A groundless conspiracy theory, Trump has publicly pushed this claim, in a way that suggests some insecurity over Clinton having besting him by, you guessed it, nearly three million votes.
According to Jones, however, the president didn't need his conspiracy-laden advice. "He said, ‘I already know, I’m making a speech in two days,'" Jones claimed. Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment or confirmation of Jones' claims, and as of yet has received no reply.
Obviously, it's impossible to know with ironclad certainty whether Jones is telling the truth. Someone in his position would certainly be incentivized to be seen as a confidant or informal adviser to the president, not least of all because it's a notion that would've been laughably unthinkable with any other president besides Trump. It is worth noting that Trump is clearly cozy with Jones, however ― he's been interviewed on Jones' show, and once told him "your reputation is amazing."
There are good reasons to regard these claims as terrible news if true, and that's not because Jones' views are outside the political mainstream ― plenty of ideological and independent media at least trades in facts. Rather, far beyond being outside the mainstream, Jones is an advocate for some deeply bizarre and dangerous ideas.
He's believes that 9/11 was an inside job, that airplanes spout poisonous "chemtrails," that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is secretly building concentration camps, that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax, that Pizzagate is real, that the government is secretly controlling the weather, and that vaccines are unsafe (Trump's with him on that one, at least). He's also occasionally invited British conspiracy theorist David Icke on his show to spout theories about how lizard people are manipulating world events. Yup, it's that bad.
14 minutes apart: Fox says "ungrateful traitor," Trump says "ungrateful traitor," Fox says "weak leader," Trump says "weak leader." pic.twitter.com/f7urTOUG1L— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 26, 2017
When you additionally consider the extent to which Trump's public proclamations seem highly influenced by the media he's consuming, it's even more worrisome. His fallacious remark about something bad having happened in Sweden the night of Friday, Feb. 17, for example, he later explained came from a Fox News show he'd watched. Many observers have similarly suggested that Trump sometimes live-tweets Fox News without revealing it, on the basis of shared words and topics between his tweets and the shows that are airing are certain times of the day.
Given a leader who seems quite susceptible to believing and vehemently asserting falsehoods, all while occasionally castigating credible outlets for traditional and factual reporting, the prospect that Jones is whispering in his ear from time to time is worrisome in the extreme. There's no rule as to who the president can or can't field a phone call from, however, which means absent outcry and protest sparking some sort of change, this may be yet another grim fixture of American life for the next four to eight years.