Testifying at his child custody trial, Alex Jones said Wednesday that he means what he says on Infowars, though he also indulges in satire and comedy on the show.
On its multiple platforms, Jones’ show reaches at least 70 million people a week, he said.
“I believe in the overall political program I am promoting of Americana and freedom,” said Jones, discounting any suggestion that, in his on-air persona, he is “playing a trick on the public.”
Jones, who testified in a Travis County courtroom for a little more than an hour at the end of the day and will return to the stand Thursday, described a life in which he successfully melds his on-air role and leadership of a successful media “combine” with about 75 employees, with what he described as his most important role as a parent to three children, ages 9, 12 and 14.
Jones said he has been the primary parent for the last 30 months since early in the divorce proceedings, and that all three children are now “doing the best they’ve done in their life.”
Jones’ ex-wife, Kelly Jones, who has very limited visitation with the children now, is seeking joint or sole custody of the children. Two psychologists and a licensed professional counselor involved in the divorce case testified Tuesday and Wednesday. Kelly Jones was described as suffering from emotional dysregulation, which was defined as an episodic tendency to respond in a manner and with an intensity out of proportion to the circumstances, and transient psychosis.
Those symptoms, they said, made it impossible for Kelly Jones to progress from limited, supervised access to her children to the 50-50 split over time envisioned in the 2015 divorce settlement.
Alex Jones said the children want to be with him and that “95 percent of the problems” for the family are when the children are going to, coming from or on a visit with their mother who, like him, lives in Austin.
Wednesday’s questioning came from Randall Wilhite, one of Jones’ attorneys, and was mostly intended to let him talk about the strengths of his children and their relationship. It included a slide show of father-children scenes.
Jones can expect hostile questioning when the baton is passed to Bobby Newman, one of Kelly Jones’ attorneys, on Thursday.
The Jones case, which remains under seal even though the trial is in open court, blew up nationally because of his attorneys’ strategy to portray Jones — known for his shadowy conspiracy theories and bellowing delivery — as playing a character in his public persona, like Jack Nicholson playing the Joker in “Batman.” That led to much mockery and criticism, suggesting that Jones was peddling sometimes dangerous and false ideas that he didn’t really believe in.
The stakes for Jones were raised when he forged a relationship and gained some apparent influence with Donald Trump, first as a candidate for president and then after Trump moved into the Oval Office, Jones frequently says.
On videos posted on Infowars’ website and on Facebook in the last couple of days, Jones has denied that there is anything fake about his views — though when he plays characters like the Joker and lizard man, he said in court Wednesday, it’s clearly not meant to be taken seriously.
Jones has also sometimes defended himself as a performance artist and can expect to be asked Thursday about other outrageous on-air performances that are less clearly the stuff of comedy or satire.
Kelly Jones’ attorneys also want to demonstrate that there is no clear line between work and home for Jones, and plan to show the jury a tape of his son, now 14, reporting on Infowars when he was 12.
Jones said that his son had been making appearances on the show since he was about 10 and aspires to go into broadcasting like his father. He said his son has reported on topics including private vs. government space travel and littering on the Barton Creek greenbelt, and that he tries to steer him away from the heavier geopolitical topics, though he is very interested in them.
Asked about death threats received in connection to his show, Jones said he — and, to a far lesser extent, the family — get them mostly online and are all reported to the authorities.
“I have the same security guards as Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush,” he said.
Kelly Jones’ lawyers will present their case after her ex-husband’s team finishes putting on theirs. But, in their cross-examinations, they are building an argument that the psychologists in the case bent to Alex Jones’ will and made a lot of money while working on the case, and that her emotional outbursts are a consequence of his and the psychologists’ actions.
Her lawyers were also able to place before the jury that Alex Jones had been diagnosed as a narcissist, though it wasn’t clear from the testimony whether he suffered from narcissistic personality disorder or merely exhibited some narcissist traits.
Also, halfway through the proceedings Wednesday, state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo ordered reporters to shut off all electronic devices and said that they will have to take notes with a pen and pad. The court distributed yellow pads and pens to all the reporters in need. Naranjo said she was doing it in the interests of protecting the children. She had earlier asked that reporters not to identify the children by name.