Infowars’ Alex Jones, Purveyor Of The Most Untrustworhy Political Website North Of “The News Nerd,” Provides One Of The Most Disingenuous Apologies Imaginable

A few stipulations:

1. Anyone who for a second thought it was anything more than a bad spoof that John Podesta and Hillary Clinton were engaged in a child sex ring operating out of a D.C. pizza joint has gone waaaay beyond “Bias Makes You Stupid” to “Bias Makes People Who Are Stupid Already Too Dangerous For Human Companionship.”

2. Anyone who believes anything that appears on the conspiracy blog “Infowars” is a sitting duck for the next Ponzi scheme.

3. My theory is that Breibart pays Jones to make it look reliable and objective by comparison. And it gets its money’s worth..

The so called Pizzagate conspiracy theory held that top Democratic officials were involved with a satanic child pornography ring centered around Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. There was never any evidence to support it, and more importantly, was ridiculous on its face. It did not originate with Alex Jones, the proprietor of far right Infowars, but since it was uncomplimentary to Democrats, Jones was supporting Donald Trump, and he has also claimed on Infowars that the 9/11 attacks were  carried out by the United States government and that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown  was a hoax concocted by anti-Second Amendment fanatics, the Pizzagate theory fit right in to the rest of the BS. Thanks in great part to Jones,  the hoax circulated on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, flourished in online forums frequented by idiots, and produced more static interfering with a rational approach to a crucial election.

This hoax, unlike, say, the claim that the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump, had measurable consequences. The pizzeria, its owner and his employees received death threats. Their business has suffered. Nearby businesses have also been adversely affected, and the hoax even spread to several other pizzerias around the country for some reason.The restaurant was closed for two days in December after Edgar M. Welch, one of the above referenced idiots,  showed up at Comet Ping Pong to “investigate,” and fired a semiautomatic rifle  inside the pizzeria. Welch pleaded guilty on Friday to assault with a dangerous weapon and interstate transportation of a firearm. Good. One idiot down.

Now Jones has issued an apology. It was obviously crafted by lawyers: Comet Pizza had demanded one in February, and by law Jones had one month to retract his libel (arguably liable) to avoid being sued. The month would have been up this weekend. Here is that apology, with key sections bolded and numbered to make commenting here easier:

Last fall before the Presidential election, a large number of media outlets began reporting on allegations arising from emails released by Wikileaks that appeared to come from John Podesta, who served Presidents Clinton and Obama and was the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Dozens of those stories and articles raised or discussed theories that some of Podesta’s emails contained code words for human trafficking and/or pedophilia. Stories also included allegations connecting members of the Democratic Party with a number of restaurants involved with a child sex ring. These stories were cited and discussed in social media and went viral on the Internet. (1.)

One of the persons mentioned in many of the stories in the media was a Washington, D.C. restaurant owner named James Alefantis, and his pizza restaurant Comet Ping Pong. It is fair to say that Mr. Alefantis is a prominent individual who has been mentioned as a power player in Washington. Mr. Alefantis and his restaurant were mentioned in many stories published by a lot of different outlets. Mr. Alefantis was quoted in many subsequent stories, and he denied any involvement in such child sex rings. These denials were reported in national media and many other media outlets and news websites.

The volume of stories was substantial, generated national headlines and came to be known across the country as “Pizzagate.” We at Infowars became a part of that discussion. (2) We broadcast commentary about the allegations and the theory that the emails contained code words. We raised questions about information in Mr. Podesta’s emails and the Comet Ping Pong restaurant. We believed at that time that further investigation was necessary. (3) In December 2016 we disassociated ourselves from the “Pizzagate” claims and theories, a position we reiterated last month after being contacted by Mr. Alefantis (4).

In late February 2017, we received a letter from Mr. Alefantis asking that we retract certain statements that he says were made in seven of our broadcasts between the last week of November and the first week of December 2016. We have attempted, through our lawyers, to contact Mr. Alefantis to discuss with him what sort of statement he would like to see made.

In our commentary about what had become known as Pizzagate, I made comments about Mr. Alefantis that in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him. We were participating in a discussion that was being written about by scores of media outlets, in one of the most hotly contested and disputed political environments our country has ever seen. (5) We relied on third party accounts of alleged activities and conduct at the restaurant. (6) We also relied on accounts of reporters who are no longer with us. (7) This was an ever-evolving story, which had a huge amount of commentary about it across many media outlets. (8)

As I have said before, what became a heightened focus on Mr. Alefantis and Comet Ping Pong by many media outlets was not appropriate. (9) To my knowledge today, neither Mr. Alefantis, nor his restaurant Comet Ping Pong, were involved in any human trafficking as was part of the theories about Pizzagate that were being written about in many media outlets and which we commented upon.

I want our viewers and listeners to know that we regret any negative impact our commentaries may have had on Mr. Alefantis, Comet Ping Pong, or its employees. (10) We apologize to the extent our commentaries could be construed as negative statements about Mr. Alefantis or Comet Ping Pong, (11) and we hope that anyone else involved in commenting on Pizzagate will do the same thing.

Here’s what we have done to clarify to the public. Months ago we took down the majority of broadcasts/videos including ones that only mentioned Pizzagate. This happened months before we were even contacted by Mr. Alefantis. Mr. Alefantis objected to portions of seven particular radio broadcasts. We have taken down those seven broadcasts and we have attempted to take down any broadcasts that mentioned Mr. Alefantis or Comet Ping Pong. We have attempted to do so not just on our website but also social media sites such as our YouTube channel. If Mr. Alefantis has other objections, we invite him to let us know. Two reporters who used to be associated with us are no longer with us. In a recent broadcast, I invited Mr. Alefantis on our program to state what he wanted to, and I again do so here. He has given interviews to many media outlets, and he is welcome to come on our show.

In issuing this statement, we are not admitting that Mr. Alefantis, or his restaurant, have any legal claim. We do not believe they do. But we are issuing this statement because we think it is the right thing to do. (12) It will be no surprise to you that we will fight for children across America. But the Pizzagate narrative, as least as concerning Mr. Alefantis and Comet Ping Pong, we have subsequently determined was based upon what we now believe was an incorrect narrative. Despite the fact that we were far from the genesis of this story, it is never easy to admit when your commentaries are based on inaccurate information( 13), but we feel like we owe it to you the listeners, viewers and supporters to make that statement, and give an apology to you and to Mr. Alefantis, when we do.

We encourage you to hold us accountable. We improve when you do.

Alex Jones,
Infowars

Analysis:

1.  This an astounding “everybody did it” rationalization. Everybody didn’t do it, of course. What Jones is literally saying is that there were completely crazy rumors on the darkest, dumbest corners of the web, spreading though social media, and this was enough for his slimy website to relay as news what was deranged gossip.  The “code words” part is especially ridiculous. Jones is either admitting that he is a moron, that he pays too much attention to morons, or thinks his readers are morons.

2. Love it: “We at Infowars became a part of that discussion.” This is the “mistakes were made” and “these problems have happened” dodge. YOU made Infowars a participant in the rumor-mongering, you creep.

3. Wait: why did you believe that the matter needed investigating? Is every lie worth investigating? It wasn’t worth investigating, because there was no evidence at all that anything happened, not even circumstantial evidence. Nothing. The only reason to investigate such crap is to give the rumors credence.

4. “In December 2016 we disassociated ourselves from the “Pizzagate” claims and theories, a position we reiterated last month after being contacted by Mr. Alefantis.”

Translation: “We stopped writing about it because we knew we could be sued, since we had no defense at all for continuing to libel the restaurant, and we knew it was nonsense from the start.”

5. What difference does it make that this outrageous fake accusation occurred “in one of the most hotly contested and disputed political environments our country has ever seen?”  What’s the theory, that this lowers the standards of ethical journalism, so spreading stupid conspiracy theories is suddenly okay? 

6.  “Third party accounts of alleged activities and conduct” are called rumors and gossip. Yes, Infowars use these this, because that’s what dishonest, irresponsible websites do.  Ethical journalists don’t do this. Heck, even most unethical journalists don’t do this.

7. “We also relied on accounts of reporters who are no longer with us.”  Ha! Infowars is 100% responsible for the acts of the staff it hires, the poor supervision and oversight they receive, and the unethical culture that allows them to flourish. This is like an airline saying, “That drunk pilot who crashed that plane and killed all those passengers doesn’t work hear anymore.”

8. “This was an ever-evolving story, which had a huge amount of commentary about it across many media outlets.” No, it never was a news  story, and no matter how many people were talking about it, it never became a news story. The fact that people were talking about a hoax was the actual story. Infowars never wrote about that.

9.  “What became a heightened focus on Mr. Alefantis and Comet Ping Pong by many media outlets was not appropriate.”   Gee, ya think?  It’s inappropriate to completely manufacture a lie about a business engaging in child sex trafficking? When did Alex Jones figure that out? It was always inappropriate, and anyone with the ethics of a banana slug would know it.

10. “I want our viewers and listeners to know that we regret any negative impact our commentaries may have had on Mr. Alefantis, Comet Ping Pong, or its employees.”   And I want them to know that Jones didn’t give a damn what negative impact his commentaries would have as long as it slimed Podesta, Democrats and Hillary Clinton, until after the election was over and he was facing a lawsuit.

11. Note that Jones doesn’t apologize to anyone who isn’t threatening to sue him, like the actual targets of his fake news: Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, and the DNC. This is because he’s without conscience, integrity, or scruples.

12. Hilarious! In the paragraph most obviously written by lawyers, Jones says that “we think it is the right thing to do” rather than what is really the case, that his lawyers think it’s the prudent thing to do to minimize the chance of being sued. 

13. Wait, why is it “never easy to admit when your commentaries are based on inaccurate information”?  Shouldn’t Jones be used to it by now?

_______________________

Pointer: Fred

 

18 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet, Unethical Websites

18 responses to “Infowars’ Alex Jones, Purveyor Of The Most Untrustworhy Political Website North Of “The News Nerd,” Provides One Of The Most Disingenuous Apologies Imaginable

  1. Rich in CT

    Mistakes were made, and statements of opinion were poorly phrased such that they might be misconstrued as statements of provably false fact, for which we apologize for our poorly phrased opinions which were not intended to be construed as factual.

  2. Warren

    Well done. Now *this* — this venomous fever-dream promoted by whack-jobs like Jones — is fake news. Jack, are you sure I can’t convince you that “Pizzagate” is a standard deviation of lunacy away from examples of bad journalism from outlets like the Washington Post and the New York Times, publishers with actual standards? Pizzagate appears to be the brainchild of an obscure Missourian white supremacist hiding behind a false Twitter avatar, who managed to get the attention of sundry 4chan nutters after his “scoop” was posted on something called yournewswire.com, whose top stories today include a dispatch from a member of the Illuminati. It’s fine with me if the President and Ethics Alarms want to call out mainstream media bias, particularly when the examples cited are blatant and clear. But to contend that the term fake news applies equally to prima facie bullshit like Pizzagate and bad reporting from the New York Times is to render the term fake news so broad and imprecise as to be meaningless.

    • Here is the problem… most sensible persons know that they should find verifiable evidence elsewhere of anything that Alex Jones reports before they give that report any credence. When the New York Times reports about anything, a fairly large portion of the population believe that report to be fact. For this reason, fake news reported by the New York Times is far more dangerous to the future of the Republic.

    • Sure, it’s stupid, and far more stupid than MSM “fake news.” That’s what makes MSM fake news more damaging and irresponsible: more than just conspiracy-mind idiots will accept it as truth. Both you and Charles Green (and others) keep arguing that motive (which is dubious in many cases as it is) makes a material difference. What does make a difference is that both kinds of news stories—careless, biased MSM stories that shade the facts, omit key ones or are published based on bad information, and outright hoaxes or rumors published as fact to mislead or get clicks—are still fake, as in not true, and do great damage. It’s all along a fake news spectrum.

      Was “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” any less fake news than Pizzagate? Why? It was based on the unsubstantiated lie of someone with direct interest in the spin, Mike Brown’s pal, and yet the news media ran with it.

      How about Dan Rather’s fake letter? That involved the credulous acceptance of a forged document to shift votes in the 2004 election. Not fake news just because Dan Rather rather than Alex Jones was involved? Who is more believed? Who had betrayed his duty and misused his integrity more?

      NBC and MSNBC edited the George Zimmerman 911 tapes to support the “racist stalking” narrative that is still part of the BLM rhetoric. Fake news? How could you call it anything but?

  3. Wayne

    Moron alert!!

  4. nobody

    I take issue with just one part of your post.

    “The “code words” part is especially ridiculous. Jones is either admitting that he is a moron, that he pays too much attention to morons, or thinks his readers are morons.”

    If you have gone through some of the content of the emails, I think it’s more than justifiable to believe that many of them are written in code. I don’t see how this is an incredulous claim, especially when you consider how often these “codes” appear throughout the emails, how they seem to relate to absolutely nothing in politics and how most politicians act under the assumption that they are being watched/spied on.

    Given also how rigorous and consistent this coding was and yet how openly illegal the Clinton/Podesta emails were in other areas, why is it so surprising that people might consider them news worthy?

    • Because people don’t write in codes unless they are spies. I studied cryptology. You can find codes in anything, if you are determined and paranoid. One doesn’t suddenly see codes in Podesta’s e-mails unless one begins with a desire to find something incriminating there. If Podesta was so afraid of his intent being discovered that he felt he had to code everything, why was he so ridiculously careless and inept in protecting his e-mail from hackers?

  5. Arthur in Maine

    What’s interesting is that back in the Bush the Younger era, Alex Jones was frequently cited by the loons over on Democratic Underground, who desperately wanted to believe in chemtrails and that 9/11 was an inside job – both of which are hypotheses that Jones has heavily promoted.

    Once Obama was elected, DU embraced his rants a lot less as loons from the right started flocking to his birther/globabalist/survivalist schtick.

    You gotta give the guy credit for one thing: he’s come up with a business model that allows him to prosper regardless of which fringe currently feels most aggrieved.

  6. The apology is completely unacceptable.

    Comet Ping Pong should sue the pants off of Infowars! I’m sure there will be lots of dollars to support this suit, Comet Ping Pong should seriously think about Crowd Funding to pay for legal bills.

  7. Here is the smoking gun to clear Alex Jones of all wrongdoing: “[a] Washington, D.C. restaurant owner named James Alefantis, and his pizza restaurant Comet Ping Pong.” As we all know, ‘Alefantis” means, “Of the children” in cyberspeak. It is clearly code for “We sell children. Cheap. On Tuesdays, we have a two-for-Tuesday special.” Yes. Now, to be clear, there is some argument to be made that “Alefantis” means “of or pertaining to elephants”, which we also know children love. And, what do comets and ping pong have to do with pizza? Nothing. QED.

    Alex Jones is a raving lunatic. Anything he says should be viewed in the most delusional light possible. Therein lies the rub: In a defamation/libel action, the truth of the statement is going to be taken in context of the speaker’s mind. If Alex Jones is merely considered a whack-job conspiracy theory buff, most people would not take anything he says seriously. Most people hear Alex Jones, snicker, and move on to more interesting things such as whether the refrigerator light actually turns off when you close the door (it does; I proved it scientifically). Damages would be hard to prove, as well.

    As for the apology, it is masterful gobbledygook. Jones apologizes to Comet Ping Pong Pizza for getting a ‘story’ wrong, all the while declaring that they will always stand up for children. Think about that: It says, “Hey, we might have been overzealous in our reporting on this story, but we felt it was important to chase down the truth because the safety of children is a stake.”

    jvb

    • dragin_dragon

      Didn’t Bill Clinton close almost every speech he made with “We must do it for the children”?

      • I do believe he did. “For the Children” is a beautiful rallying cry. How much good has been done in the name of children is immeasurable. Our society is better for it, and by golly, it just feels right. “What kind of world are we leaving to our children?” “What will our children think of this?”

        jvb

  8. dragin_dragon

    “Believe only half of what you see, and none of what you hear”. Attributed to a variety of people, including Edgar Allen Poe, but most likely from Benjamin Franklin, who said it first.

  9. Alex

    I read the emails when the thing first came out because I wanted to see the level of creative misinterpretation required (spoiler: it was off the charts, pushing the Pizzagate thing was and still is stupid), but…
    1.) Mr. Podesta can’t write for his life. His email responses make very little sense (part of the reason they were creatively misinterpreted) with horrible grammar even for a throwaway one-liner response. No surprise that the Democrats won if their campaign manager sucks at such a basic skill.
    2.) For someone who spends so much time communicating via email, he fell for the equivalent of a shell game at the carnival. After looking at the background of how he was hacked, he pretty much gave his password freely to a random website. My parents are older than him and depend on the computer much less, and their opsec awareness is better than his.
    In summary, Pizzagate is stupid, but no one comes looking good from it.

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