“ALEX JONES: BECK IS A ‘DEMONIC LITTLE GOBLIN’ ‘RUBBING HIS LITTLE POT BELLY ON THE GROUND’ BEFORE ZUCKERBERG,” reads a strange and vivid headline that appeared on Breitbart this week, the latest volley in a war of words between the two most prominent broadcasters of news and opinion for Americans who own a gun and 50 or more bumper stickers.
Alex Jones, of course, is a syndicated radio host and the proprietor of InfoWars.com, the most visible outpost of the extreme right-wing conspiracy-theorist internet. On any given day, a visit to the InfoWars homepage might turn up posts about mysterious body parts, supposedly sinister military exercises, still-breathing aborted fetuses, the “one world religion” and “one world government,” and increasingly, the apparent greatness of Donald Trump.
Beck is the exiled Fox News host best known for crying on air and in the pages of GQ magazine. After leaving television in 2011, he too founded TheBlaze, which takes a marginally more mainstream view of the news of the day than Infowars. Beck is the Coldplay to Jones’ Radiohead, taking radical ideas Jones espoused years ago and watering them down for a mass audience. Beck’s moment of mainstream fame has mostly passed, but he’s the only one of the pair ever to host a cable TV show, and TheBlaze commands a much bigger audience than InfoWars, even as it hemorrhages money and staffers.
The two men have been taking shots at each other for years, but their enmity seems to have intensified during the 2016 presidential election cycle and the rise of Donald Trump, which have thrown even the right-wing’s wackiest elements into chaos. InfoWars published something like a formal endorsement of the candidate, and Trump appeared on the Alex Jones Show in December. The more traditionally conservative Beck endorsed Cruz. Earlier this year, one of Beck’s reporters penned a story about how his boss thinks Jones and his buddy Matt Drudge are total weirdos. Then, on Tuesday of this week, multiple Infowars headlines addressed Beck’s recent meeting with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in near-apocalyptic terms.
Both men lead cults of personality based on anti-government paranoia, and maybe both fear that the New World Order ain’t big enough for the both of them.
But wait! How did this all begin? Let’s take a look at a few of the highlights from their years-long rivalry.
2009: Glenn Beck’s Job
“It’s Beck’s job to keep us focused on the small stuff while the beast continues its quest to enslave the entire world and turn it into a prison planet based on the very slave plantation Beck criticizes,” reads an InfoWars post from 2009. Two years later, Jones himself spoke about the beef in the 15-minute YouTube rant embedded above. Early on, he lays out the meat of his problem with Beck:
I have refused to sell out. I’ve been offered big TV deals, and even bigger radio syndication deals, and I’ve said no, because I was openly told I’d have to compromise my information. So I didn’t sell out. So the system just takes an actor, a facsimile of what I am, and puts him forward so that he will compromise the information.
So here comes Glenn Beck telling you that world government is run by Van Jones and George Soros, when they’re midlevel players at best. It’s disgusting.
A week after Jones published his video calling Beck out, Rolling Stone got in on the action with a post titled “Glenn Beck’s Shtick? Alex Jones Got There First,” laying out the ways Beck had seemingly appropriated ideas about 9/11 trutherism and the New World Order from Jones.
Jones has a talent for seeing complex and nefarious machinations behind everyday phenomena, and his views on Beck match this worldview. Perhaps to Alex Jones, Glenn Beck is just one more element in the vast conspiracy against Alex Jones.
2011: I Don’t Know Her
As you may recall, it was during an interview with Jones in 2011 that Charlie Sheen’s quickly unspooling mental state was first made visible to the world. A few days after that same Rolling Stone post, Beck made some gay jokes about Jones and Sheen on his radio show. In a masterful “I don’t know her” moment, Beck doesn’t actually mention Jones’ name on-air. He just plays a bunch of clips of him talking to Sheen. But if you listen with your tinfoil hat on, it’s easy to hear this bit as retaliatory.
2014: Judas Goat
But whatever! Jones is “a guy we don’t talk about very often, because he’s so insignificant, and we don’t really care” Beck says, at the beginning of this 2014 clip from his radio show. For not caring about Jones, Beck sure seems to know a lot about the guy, and he spends the next 10 minutes talking about him in great detail.
2016: Race to the Bottom
All this baggage has informed their “coverage” of the 2016 presidential election. Recently, Jones has taken issue with Beck’s meeting with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg over alleged anti-conservative bias at the social network, after which Beck said he “believed Facebook is behaving appropriately and is trying to do the right thing.”
Rather than try to further parse each man’s reasoning for hating the other—beyond Beck’s Cruz endorsement, and Jones’ preference for Trump—let’s tour these InfoWars headlines, all of which were published in the last two months. The below is not an exhaustive list:
TheBlaze, in keeping with Beck’s subtler approach to the feud, has run just one spectacularly petty post devoted to Jones this year. In March, a Blaze reporter “reported” the story of how his boss no longer believes The Drudge Report is a credible source of news, because Matt Drudge has been spending too much time with Jones. From TheBlaze:
According to Beck, who was frustrated by the image, Drudge lost credibility in his mind when he started “hanging out with” conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, a supporter of Trump.
“I don’t know what the hell has happened to Matt Drudge, but it happened a few years ago, when he started hanging out with Alex Jones,” Beck said. “And now he is in this weird conspiratorial Alex Jones kind of place, and now he has taken and started to Photoshop pictures.”
Beck said that in the past, he used Drudge’s reporting for his radio program, but no longer feels he can trust his popular news aggregation site.
Your pick for the winner of the great Beck-Jones war will probably depend on which style of battle you prefer: Jones’ all-out blitzkrieg or Beck’s studiously cultivated above-it-all attitude. All I know is I never want them to stop fighting.