It appears quite inconceivable that Infowars, the conspiracy theory website that claims things like 9/11 was an inside job, is getting its information from the wrong sources.
Alex Jones, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, has been in the news lately for his apparent meltdown while interviewing protesters at the Trump inauguration. He reportedly went to interview Trump protesters and got into a tiff with them after having claimed that one of his female colleagues was harassed at the inauguration.
And now his website Infowars finds itself in the news again for all the wrong reasons. One of the favorite methods employed by Infowars to mobilize its readers is by targeting people indiscriminately after getting even a whiff of an opportunity, and its latest witch hunt is a stark example of how often websites like Infowars get it completely wrong.
If you haven’t already heard, SNL writer Katey Rich was suspended indefinitely after her tweet about Donald Trump and Melania Trump’s 10-year-old son, Barron, which said that he “will be this country’s first homeschool shooter,” rightly elicited a very strong backlash on social media, as reported by the Washington Post. People on either side of the political spectrum agreed that a kid should not be dragged into a partisan debate, with 79,000 people soon signing a Change.org petition asking her to be fired.
Katey Rich subsequently apologized, saying her actions were “inexcusable.”
Barron Trump deserves the chance every child does-to be a kid. Standing up for every kid also means opposing @POTUS policies that hurt kids.
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) January 22, 2017
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) January 23, 2017
But for Alex Jones and Infowars, the controversy surrounding Barron Trump was a good opportunity to do some mudslinging and attack people who did not agree with their political understanding. And while that would have been fine considering it is what most of the alternate media on both sides indulge in these days, the fact that Infowars did not bother to check the details of the case before making a demand makes one realize that sites such as these are only interested in garnering more and more attention. The problem with such practices, as it will become amply clear, leads people towards misinformation and, more often than not, into making ill-formed choices.
As Business Insider reports, an inaccurate report on Infowars led more than 100,000 people to sign an online petition calling for Comedy Central to fire Stephen Spinola, who, like Katey Rich, had made a tasteless comment about Barron Trump on Twitter.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 23, 2017
And while you might think Spinola’s case is not very different from Rich’s case, the fact is that Spinola does not work for Comedy Central. Jenni Runyan, a spokesperson for the channel, confirmed to Business Insider that Spinola “has never been employed by Comedy Central.”
It would be nice if Infowars and other news sites such as this would bother about accountability, but it is certainly wishful thinking on my part.
Spinola himself, who was contacted by Insider, confessed that his Barron Trump tweet, which said that he “looks like a very handsome date-rapist-to-be,” was dumb and inappropriate, but he said that the amount of vitriol that has been spewed in his direction following a tasteless joke is mind-boggling. The comedian started receiving cryptic death threats, and someone even insinuated that they would hurt his elderly grandmother.
“It was funny at first, but then someone sent me an old address of mine and my grandmother’s name asking how she was, insinuating they would hurt her,” he said.
What is ironic in the whole episode is the fact that the same people who were attacking Spinola because he attacked a 10-year-old did not mind dragging an old lady and Spinola’s girlfriend into the line of fire. And for that, the Alex Jones’ and Infowars’ of this world will always be responsible.
[Featured Image by Ben Jackson/Getty Images]