Herman: Alex Jones, often offensive, plays defense at custody trial

The strategy was simple, transparent and exactly what you would do if you were battling Alex Jones in a child custody case: try to make the Alex Jones on the witness stand look like the Alex Jones on Infowars.

Success, by any means necessary under the rules of courtroom engagement, could mean jurors in the Jones family soap opera would see him as a guy you wouldn’t ask for directions, much less continue to have custody of his three kids.

During several hours of friendly questioning from his lawyer, we saw photos of the kids and heard that Jones’ current wife is due with their first child next month. Bobby Newman of Houston, the aggressive lawyer representing Jones’ ex-wife Kelly Jones, then rose Thursday morning to do his darnedest to make Alex Jones look like a bad dad who delegates many of his parental responsibilities.

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Things started friendly enough.

“Good morning, Mr. Jones,” Newman said.

“Hey, how you doing?” Jones replied.

Turns out what Newman was doing was going from courteous to contentious in no time flat.

“You haven’t had any chili this morning?” he asked Jones in an intended-to-inflame reference to a deposition in which Jones had said his memory had been compromised by a “big ol’ bowl of chili.”

For what it’s worth, Jones testified he had no pretrial chili on Thursday, but had enjoyed two breakfast tacos. And Newman went on to question and prod Jones about his drinking habits (not much anymore, Jones said), marijuana use (once a year for research purposes, Jones testified) and whether he had sex with another woman while he engaged to his current wife (“I’d have to see a calendar,” Jones said, later denying the alleged indiscretion).

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The first Jones video jurors saw on the big screen was him in Washington at the time of the Donald Trump inauguration. “The age of fake bull**** is over,” Jones said boisterously on the video.

In response to a Newman question, Jones said he was not drunk — by Jones’ definition — on the video.

Jones became a high-profile Trump backer during the campaign, and Trump said good things about Jones during an appearance with him on Jones’ show Infowars. The only Thursday courtroom reference to Trump came when Jones said that one of his children, referring to something Alex Jones said the child heard from Kelly Jones, said to him: “Is it true you bought off the courthouse and Donald Trump is doing all this?”

In a pre-emptive strike, Alex Jones’ lawyer Randall Wilhite asked him about his “certain sort of delivery style.”

Anyone who’s seen the delivery style certainly understands the question.

Jones said the on-air style sometimes includes “playing a character,” “having fun or being silly” and that “none of the adult-type content” comes home with him.

“No,” Jones said, “none of the bombasity, none of when I rage.”

Jones’ style on the stand was far more reserved than the “certain sort of delivery style” his lawyer had mentioned. But he was reminded to slow down several times. And he remained expressive, unable to go more than about 5 seconds at a time without making a face that invited interpretation. He also managed to interrupt Judge Orlinda Naranjo while she was reminding him not to interrupt.

Newman, in his effort to show Alex Jones as an unfit parent, showed three videos of him, including one that was stopped when his lawyer objected. Naranjo then told jurors to disregard it. It showed Jones on a show in which he and other men talked raucously and approvingly of Trump’s comments about grabbing women’s genitals, comments they said had been misinterpreted by some.

RELATED: The children in Alex Jones’ life — his, Sandy Hook’s

The other videos showed Alex Jones in Washington for the Trump inauguration and one in which he said he could drink “a jug of Jack Daniels” without showing any impact.

Newman riled Jones by delving into an advertisement, apparently from six years ago, in which Newman said Jones’ current wife sought hotel clients as a “massage therapist” who could be a “sensual, sophisticated and intelligent companion.”

“This is an identity theft issue,” Jones said. He would tell Newman moments later, “I just don’t trust you, man.”

And things got even testier when Jones claimed Newman had twisted the truth about whether Jones’ ex-wife wanted to see her son. She did not, Alex Jones said.

“You have won the award, man,” Jones, in his most emotional outburst of the day, told Newman. “No decency. Zero.”

That exchange led to a courtroom break, which, at one point, left Newman and Jones face to face after Newman was talking about a busy schedule that would require him to drive to Houston on Thursday night for a Friday hearing.

“See,” Jones told Newman with a smile, “it’s OK to delegate.”

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