How Supplements Supercharged Alex Jones’s Hateful Conspiracies

As of this writing, Jones has yet to pay the
parents a penny of the more than $1 billion in damages awarded in the two
suits. He has instead declared personal and corporate bankruptcy and offered to
settle both cases for $85 million disbursed over the next 10 years, plus a
percentage of his supplements business in perpetuity. Not surprisingly, the
parents have no interest in partnering with Jones in his drop-shipping empire. They
are instead pushing to hook Jones for the full amount, which would result in
what one parent calls “the total destruction of Alex Jones.” Only the full
penalty, says Bankston, the parents’ Texas attorney, can “guarantee his exit
from public life.”

Maybe. But neither the parents nor their
lawyers suffer any under illusions about what the suits can accomplish in the
bigger scheme of things. Reed grants his subjects the necessary time to express
the obvious point that, even if Jones is somehow forced back into a graveyard slot
on Austin Community TV, it will not reverse the deep social, technological, and
psychological forces that have allowed one in five Americans to doubt that
Sandy Hook happened. Though Jones possesses a unique charisma—even one of the
most active parents in the case, Robbie Parker, confesses to Reed, “You can’t
take your eyes off him, you can’t help but follow him around, and I hate to
admit that”—the world that he’s helped midwife does not depend on his national presence.
Monte Frank, the town of Newtown’s attorney, was bewildered by the first
hoaxers he encountered, but by 2021 he recognized their madness as “close to
mainstream America now.” “We can solve the Alex Jones problem,” says the
parents’ Texas attorney, “but we cannot solve the greater problem that allowed
Alex Jones to flourish.”

If that pessimistic assessment was inarguable
when Reed finished production on the film, it became more so weeks before its
premiere. In February, Open A.I. released the first samples generated by its new
text-to-video A.I. program, Sora. The cinema-realistic videos immediately made
Jones’s weaponization of “glitches” in CNN interviews with Sandy Hook parents look
like the information-war equivalent of a muzzle-loading musket. What will
happen when endlessly modified realities can be rendered with hyperrealistic precision
and distributed in seconds by Jones’s protégés, those already on the scene and
yet to arrive, armed with new conspiracies and new products to sell?