Hatewatch obtained a first look at text messages from a phone belonging to Infowars’ Alex Jones and reviewed them over the course of several months. The messages offer an unvarnished look into the life of one of the most influential radical right figures in modern American history.
Hatewatch has broken the messages down into multiple parts, reporting out what they tell us about the divide between Jones’ performance on Infowars and his private life, the network of pro-Trump influencers and extremists within which he operates, and the way he makes money off his fans. The texts offer insight into Jones and Infowars but also tell a bigger story – one about the profitable but destructive business of selling bigotry and disinformation to Americans.
Attorney Mark Bankston of Farrar & Ball LLP, turned the text messages over to Hatewatch in September on a not-for-publication basis, to aid Hatewatch’s mission of analyzing extremist networks. On Jan. 31, Hatewatch received word that a redacted copy of the messages entered the public record, enabling the publication of this series.
Bankston sent Hatewatch a statement Wednesday after the texts became public record: “A redacted copy of Mr. Jones’ text messages was included as an exhibit in a recent court filing. Over the past week, on three separate occasions, my law firm invited Mr. Jones’ lawyers to obtain a sealing order under Texas Rule 76(a)(5) to protect any confidential information in that exhibit, which we did not oppose. For unknown reasons, Mr. Jones’ lawyers declined our offer and chose not to take any steps to prevent these messages from entering the public record.”
The court record states that the text messages include redactions for “sensitive personally identifying information (such as driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or street addresses of private residences), prescription drug information, communications with health care providers, security codes for gates and safes, sexually explicit or nude images, and all messages involving or discussing Mr. Jones’ children or containing their images.”
In August, Bankston revealed in a Texas courtroom that Jones’ attorneys “messed up” and divulged the text records to him in an email. Jones’ attorneys later asked the court to seal the text messages, but the presiding judge rebuffed that request. Following the trial, Bankston also gave the messages to the U.S. House of Representatives' Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and provided to HuffPost a conversation between Jones and Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The Infowars host must now pay over $1 billion in penalties as a result of verdicts handed out in two trials, with two more cases still pending in Texas.
What Hatewatch reviewed
Jones and his contacts exchanged the text messages, which include over 200 threads containing over 22,000 total messages. Hatewatch did not have access to certain material, including text conversations with Jones’ healthcare providers, his childcare providers or messages with his children. Hatewatch did review some information not included in the public court filing. Hatewatch is not reporting this information, such as individuals’ phone numbers. This information enabled Hatewatch to confirm identities and establish that some of the names in Jones’ contact list are aliases.
The messages span between Aug. 19, 2019, at 10:15 a.m. CDT and May 15, 2020, 9:48 a.m. CDT. During this period, Jones faced challenges as a result of the lawsuits filed by families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims. He also faced difficulties in his personal life, which have been documented in the press. The texts fall in the second half of Donald Trump’s presidency, during the very beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic. The texts Hatewatch received end just before the murder of George Floyd and the wave of racial justice protests that followed in the summer of 2020.
The texts reveal Jones in connection to many figures who participated in sowing disinformation following Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, which Hatewatch will report in the second part of this investigation. The texts precede the violence that took place in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by eight months.
What Hatewatch learned from the texts
Although the files show a creation date of May 28, 2021, Hatewatch determined that someone using a Mac computer and a software package called PhoneView created the cache of messages a year earlier on May 15, 2020, at 4:25 p.m. CDT, extracting text messages from Jones' Apple iOS device and storing each individual thread in separate PDF files. Hatewatch reviewed messages that people sent as written text in these PDF files, as well as images, links and emojis.
PhoneView does not provide access to messages sent as audio files or voice memos. Jones sent more than 400 messages using the voice memo feature. Jones also set up the encrypted messaging app Signal on his phone on Feb. 9, 2020, based upon an automated account confirmation message found in the phone data. Mike Adams, operator of the disinformation and conspiracy site Natural News, recommended to Jones earlier that day by text message that he join Signal so Adams could send “something sensitive,” suggesting the Infowars host may have used that app to exchange some messages of a discreet nature that Hatewatch could not access.
There are also indications from the texts that Jones deleted certain text conversations from his phone. While the texts do not represent every message Jones sent or received in this time period, they nonetheless provide an unparalleled view into Jones’ inner world.
- Part I: Infowars’ Alex Jones Says He Lives ‘in Hell,’ Texts Show
- Part II: Alex Jones’ Texts Highlight Infowars Overlap with Proud Boys
- Part III: Alex Jones Urged Rogan To Host Pro-Rape Extremist
- Part IV: Alex Jones on alleged FBI monitoring of Nick Fuentes: ‘It’s a Trap’
- Part V: ‘Absolutely Bonkers’: Inside Inforwars’ Money Machine
Illustration by Lincoln Agnew