compassion, collaboration & cooperation iN transistion
THE TVS AT THE EQUINOX were showing a Donald Trump rally. Hillary Clinton might have been holding her own rally somewhere but, if so, it wasn’t on any of these screens. In fact, a few weeks ago MSNBC, Fox News and CNN had ignored a Hillary Clinton speech entirely, choosing instead to broadcast a live feed of the empty podium from which Donald Trump would soon speak. His empty podium: that’s how insatiable our appetite was to hear Donald Trump say staggering things in the spring of 2016, back when it was new and strange. I plugged in my headphones and heard someone in the crowd shout out to Trump: “Are you going back on the Alex Jones show?” “Alex Jones?” Trump said. “He was a nice guy! You like him?” “It was a GREAT interview!” the man called back. “Oh good,” Donald Trump said. “Alex Jones. Nice guy.” I was so jolted by this exchange I almost fell off my elliptical. Donald Trump knows Alex Jones?
I AM BASICALLY ALEX JONES’S Simon Cowell. I star-spotted him in the late-1990s. He’d been a locally renowned radio talk show host in Austin, Texas, back then, but I gave him the idea that catapulted him to fame. My idea was for the two of us to sneak into a secretive summer camp in the forests of Northern California called Bohemian Grove, where powerful men like George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger were rumored to undertake an annual ritual in which a human effigy was thrown into the fiery belly of a giant stone owl. “That can’t be true,” I thought when I first heard of the ritual. “I wonder if I can get in and film it?” I didn’t want to infiltrate the camp alone, because if I failed there would be no story. It would just be me failing to enter a summer camp. If I failed alongside the charismatic fledgling conspiracy talk show host Alex Jones, however, I could at least write about him failing.
Jon Ronson BBC Filmaker
Jon Ronson is an award-winning writer and documentary maker. He is the author of many bestselling books, including Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie, Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, The Psychopath Test, The Men Who Stare at Goats and Them: Adventures with Extremists. His first fictional screenplay, Frank, co-written with Peter Straughan, starred Michael Fassbender. He lives in London and New York City.
How trafficking in conspiracy theories went from the fringes of U.S. politics into the White House. FRONTLINE examines the alliance of conspiracy entrepreneur Alex Jones, Trump advisor Roger Stone, and the president, and their role in the battle over truth and lies.
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