‘Absolutely Bonkers’: Inside Infowars’ Money Machine
The text messages from Alex Jones’ phone show how Infowars sowed hatred, fear and lies, while also selling products to its audience, some at markups as high as 900%.
In addition to these extreme markups, the texts show multimillionaire Jones trying new things at a tenuous time for his business. Mainstream social media companies including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube banned Jones from their platforms in 2018, around the same time he began feeling the fallout from his lies about the Sandy Hook mass shooting. In 2019, when the text messages start, Jones hatches a series of partnerships, LLCs and domain names in addition to his flagship Infowars business.
To mixed results, Jones bankrolls shadow operations around this time, including the junk-news site National File. He also backs a project created by Logan Cook, a Kansas-based Trump fan who uses the online alias “Carpe Donktum,” that goes nowhere. Many times in the texts, Jones leans on influencers in his orbit who still have access to mainstream social media accounts to spread Infowars content for him, like his antisemitic collaborator Paul Joseph Watson. He also appears to deceive his fans about his reach. In one message, Jones’ employee Michael Zimmermann offers to rig the view counts on Jones’ videos, giving the appearance that more people are watching his broadcasts than there actually are.
Caolan Robertson, who shot a documentary for Jones in 2019, near the time when the texts start, told Hatewatch that the Infowars boss portrayed himself as a master manipulator in private, bragging that he could sell “dick pills” and that his fans would “buy anything.” Zac Drucker, a former Infowars employee who spoke to Hatewatch for this investigation, said that in retrospect, he believes Infowars staff looked down on the customers who bought into Jones’ brand.
“We all kind of did. In a nutshell, one way or another. We kind of addressed the audience as this low IQ, ‘grab onto anything,’ gullible tribe of very dangerous people,” Drucker said.
Hatewatch reached out to Jones for this story and throughout the publication of this series. He has not responded to our requests.
‘Our cost is at $4’
Infowars business operations manager Tim Fruge turns up frequently on Alex Jones’ phone, relaying information about Infowars’ profits. The two men exchange over 575 messages in the text cache from Jones’ phone, which became public during the litigation filed by the Sandy Hook parents, mostly about daily sales performance. On at least 270 occasions, Fruge sends Jones daily sales totals for the Infowars store, as well as the sales for the top-selling products.
On Sept. 21, 2019, Fruge texts Jones to inform him about a 900% retail markup assigned to a beet juice extract product called VasoBeet. The Infowars Store listing for VasoBeet calls it “a powerful beet formula that takes advantage of one of nature’s most hardworking nutrients.”
From Tim Fruge to Alex Jones, 10:11.17 a.m.:
Emailed all the plugs to Drew, Dew, and all producers. The retail for VasoBeet will be $39.95 and sale for $19.95.
Our cost is at $4
In addition to its own website, Infowars also sold VasoBeet and other products on Amazon.com in its custom-branded “Infowars Life” store at that time. They also sold what they described as “cognitive enhancement” products with names like “Brain Force” and “The Real Red Pill.”
Hatewatch reached out to Fruge’s number, but he did not respond. Hatewatch also attempted to reach out to Fruge through an automated number linked to the Infowars store.
‘Should be another great day’
Fruge and Jones start pushing packaged food buckets produced by a company called My Patriot Supply under their Ready Hour brand around January 2020, the texts show. Jones sold the buckets, which claim to be designed to last for 25 years of storage, during broadcasts where he hyped an impending war with Iran. He also pushes these buckets at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, weaving his sales pitches between bleak, apocalyptic narratives about a country sliding into ruin. On Jan. 27, 2020, Fruge sends Jones a daily sales report about the food buckets.
From Tim Fruge to Alex Jones 8:04.42 p.m.:
$110k gross sales in food. Equates to almost $70k pure profit.
The next day, Jones asks another Infowars on-camera performer, David Knight, to begin pushing the food products to the audience.
From Alex Jones to David Knight, 7:37.39 a.m.:
Also I am about to send you talking points on Key food plug
On his afternoon broadcast on Jan. 28, Jones stoked fear about impending food shortages caused by the pandemic.
“Storable food is selling out everywhere. Most of the big storable food suppliers are already sold out, because they sold out to big institutional groups. My Patriot, that puts out Infowars Select, that’s their entire line of food, just with an Infowars sticker on it, still has food. They're still able to guarantee delivery within seven to nine days,” Jones tells his audience.
On Jan. 29, the day after that on-air warning, Fruge texts Jones to tell him that Infowars has pulled in $245,000 in food sales in what appears to be just one day.
From Tim Fruge to Alex Jones, 8:49.34 a.m.:
Winter Sun 1196
Immune Gargle 609
$245k in food sales
Fruge then expresses continued optimism about sales, writing to Jones, “Should be another great day.”
CPAC stunts lead to sales
Fruge’s texts reveal that as excited as the Infowars staff may have been for the January numbers, an even higher bump in sales occurred during the last week of February 2020.
Hatewatch’s graph shows a bump in sales that coincided with stunts Jones and his team pushed in and around the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which ran from Feb. 26-29, 2020. After being banned from the main CPAC conference, Jones spoke at an alternative venue along with pro-Hitler livestreamer Nick Fuentes.
From Tim Fruge to Alex Jones, 7:06.03 a.m.:
We ended up about $810k yesterday. Gonna take me a bit to calculate what percentage of that was food but it’s looking like about $650k-$700k in food sales. We are already over $100k today at 6:45 this morning. Crazy...
Jones replies by sending Fruge a praying-hands emoji, a thumbs-up emoji and an emoji of a ghost with its tongue hanging out. Fruge continues sending updates about sales throughout CPAC, including a Feb. 27 warning that they are selling more food than the company Ready Hour could produce.
From Tim Fruge to Alex Jones, 7:17.35 a.m.:
We ended up about $750k total yesterday. Looks like food sales was about $625k-$650k. Matt just informed me that we say 6-8 weeks now for delivery. He doesn’t anticipate it going over 8 weeks no matter what. We are selling more food daily than he can physically produce and he is getting other factories to help package now. Absolutely bonkers...
From Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 8:12.35 a.m.:
Match there terms
From Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 8:12.42 a.m.:
Rather than remove the oversold products from the store, Jones continues to push sales. The product page for each item on the Infowars store leveraged the shipping delays to stoke more fear.
“Please note – we’re under the biggest demand due to the surrounding world events. With each passing minute, orders will get more delayed in delivery. Secure your order today!” a plug on the Infowars store claimed on Jan. 30, 2020, an archive shows.
Jones also pays bonuses at this time to his on-air performers. On March 2, 2020, Millie Weaver, who had warned Jones about collaborating with Fuentes, thanks Jones for her recent bonus and asks if she should continue pushing My Patriot’s Infowars Select food line on her program.
From Millie Weaver to Alex Jones 9:59.10 a.m.:
Ok awesome thanks so much for the bonus. I’ll be able to pay Nathan more and my brother more for kicking ass this week at CPAC. My bro has his CDL so he helps drive the RV and looks after my kids. The guys still going to be getting more content uploaded all day.
From Millie Weaver to Alex Jones, 10:02.11 a.m.:
Okay I will, should I continue to promote the storable foods or are you guys sold out of them?
No reply from Jones to Weaver exists in the Phoneview cache of texts, so it is not clear what Weaver is referring to when she writes, “Okay I will.” Weaver spoke at length to Hatewatch in Part IV of this series.
Intermixed with Fruge’s conversations about business, Jones’ tumultuous personal life, which Hatewatch covered in Part I of this series, comes back into focus. Zac Drucker and Josh Owens, the two former employees of Jones who spoke to Hatewatch for this series, emphasized in conversations the degree to which their former boss’s life outside Infowars bled into the daily business of his company at unexpected moments. On Thursday, Aug. 21, 2019, Fruge reported the store bringing in over $137,000 in one day.
From Tim Fruge to Alex Jones, 9:25.27 a.m.:
Brain Force 324
Jones doesn’t acknowledge those details over text. In his next text to Fruge, written two hours later, he is looking for alcohol.
From Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 11:32.12 a.m.:
Please bring a vodka to the con room
Jones used similar phrasing to request vodka from other people, including his personal trainer, as Hatewatch previously reported. The texts reveal that Fruge knew more about Jones’ personal life than just his drinking habits. For example, he appears to have also known about Jones engaging former Blackwater mercenary Tim Enlow to spy on his wife, Erika Wulff Jones. On Sept. 9, 2019, Jones accidentally sends a request to Fruge, intending it for a different Tim in his contacts, Tim Enlow. Fruge then says he will pass on the message requesting that Enlow track Erika on Jones’ behalf.
From Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 3:55:20 p.m.:
Please look at My wife’s whereabouts
From Tim Fruge to Alex Jones 3:55:55 p.m.:
Wrong Tim. I’ll pass along
The former Infowars employee Drucker told Hatewatch he also knew of the surveillance practices because he overheard Jones talking about it at work.
Superblue, silver and a cease-and-desist letter
As fear around COVID-19 intensified in the United States, the storable food demand far outstripped supply. Jones starts shifting his sales strategy in the texts. Jones asks Fruge on March 7 to order more mouthwash containing colloidal silver, which he markets as preventing COVID-19 infections.
Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 8:32.05 a.m.:
Order more mouth wash
Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 8:32.56 a.m.:
[link to NaturalNews.com product page for colloidal silver mouthwash]
Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 9:58.02 a.m.:
Don’t order any more small ones
On the evening of March 9, police arrested Jones for allegedly driving while intoxicated. They later dropped the charges. Fruge says nothing about the arrest in the texts on March 10, the following morning. He instead congratulates Jones on a recent “iodine push” that boosted sales of his “Survival Shield X2” iodine supplement to over 2,100 units.
From Tim Fruge to Alex Jones, 9:30.43 a.m.:
X3 1oz 584
The iodine push worked.
The New York Attorney General’s office stepped in on March 12, 2020, and sent Jones a cease-and-desist letter. Lisa Landau, then chief of New York state’s health care bureau, demanded in the letter that Jones stop claiming that products from his store, including DNA Life Force supplements, Silversol products and Superblue toothpaste, could cure or defend against the novel coronavirus. The next morning, Jones texts Fruge, directing him to suspend sales of the toothpaste.
Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 6:34.49 a.m.:
That order from the AG is not clear
Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 6:34:56 a.m.:
From the news
Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 6:35:22 a.m.:
We need to go on the site and find what they really said.
Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 6:36:13 a.m.:
But for now we need to stop selling the tooth past and not talk about it.
Fruge responds to Jones by sending the daily sales figures. Many of the products on his list are those specifically mentioned in the cease-and-desist, including colloidal silver mouthwash and fluoride-free Superblue toothpaste.
From Tim Fruge to Alex Jones, 8:53.35 a.m.:
Living defense 510
Despite the text to Fruge, Jones continues to sell the toothpaste and promote it. On March 14, Jones hosts his usual Sunday broadcast of “The Alex Jones Show.” According to Fruge’s sales report, they sold 509 units of Superblue that day.
From Tim Fruge to Alex Jones, 10:40.52 a.m.:
Using Fruge’s own sales figures, Hatewatch determined that Jones and his staff continued to sell Superblue for nearly a month after receiving the cease-and-desist letter from New York state. They sold more than 12,015 tubes of the toothpaste during that time, and each tube sold for between $9.95 and $14.95.
On April 11, Weaver, the Infowars performer who warned Jones about Nick Fuentes, sends photos to Jones of herself “plugging” the Superblue brand of toothpaste mentioned in the cease-and-desist letter, as well as vitamins and nootropics.
From Millie Weaver to Alex Jones, 9:12.36 p.m.:
2 plugs and 1 ad
From Alex Jones to Millie Weaver, 9:12.50 p.m.:
You are the best
Selling masks before condemning them
A few days later, Jones and his business manager shifted tactics again. By April 16, 2020, the deadly COVID-19 pandemic was dominating the news cycle worldwide. That day, Fruge sent Jones a photo of a cloth mask with the Infowars.com logo on it. Jones declared they should sell them to the audience.
Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 7:00.37 p.m.:
Buy 20 thousand
Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 7:00.46 p.m.:
But get lower price
Hatewatch found that Jones sold 3,458 masks in two weeks, rocketing the product to one of the top-selling spots on the Infowars store. Despite this run of mask sales, Jones hosted an anti-mask rally just a little over two months later, on June 28, 2020, at the state Capitol building in Austin, Texas, where Infowars is headquartered. He arrived at the rally in his armored “tank” and led a crowd in chants of “U-S-A” and “1776.”
“We refuse to be a slave to the government,” Infowars host Owen Shroyer shouted into a bullhorn at the event. “We refuse to comply with illegal orders. We will not wear masks.”
Begging Paul Joseph Watson for tweets
In summer 2018, Jones lost the ability to promote his videos, drive traffic to his store and process payments for products when Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and PayPal banned his accounts. Hatewatch found that during 2019 and 2020, Jones texted other people to “please push” or “please post” his content 106 times. Twitter became particularly important to him. He wrote “please tweet,” “tweet this” or “Tweet” at least 268 times in the texts.
He wrote to longtime collaborator Paul Joseph Watson on the morning of Aug. 25, 2019, begging for help with retweets and promotion. Watson was approaching 1 million Twitter followers at that time. Today, he has 1.3 million followers.
Alex Jones to Paul Joseph Watson, 9:21.33 a.m.:
Watson I need you to retweet more of Savanah’s work I sent the team over to help you it’s costing a lot of money I always feel like a beggar asking for crunch I need you to promote this Moore’s and some of our videos that’s been our agreement turning out 15 articles a day is not as effective as you as a personality promoting News wars and directing your size watermelons back at us I am giving you my audience that is invaluable you must reciprocate
Alex Jones to Paul Joseph Watson, 9:22.02 a.m.:
Again this was a translated voice memo so words like qualms turn into crunch
Hatewatch could not find texts from Watson directly responding to this request in the available text messages. Watson did not respond to a request for comment from Hatewatch seeking information about these texts and his current relationship with Jones. Watson and Jones exchange words about a Skype meeting. Jones brings the matter up again two minutes later.
Alex Jones to Paul Joseph Watson, 9:26.00 a.m.:
Please give the old dog a bone with our begging every day
Watson, who had been in Hong Kong filming right-wing propaganda for his channel at that time, tells Jones that it was 10:30 p.m. there and that he was “getting back home,” possibly to a hotel or some other temporary housing. Watson is based in London.
Alex Jones to Paul Joseph Watson, 9:27.23 a.m.:
Watson’s I get that you are in a dangerous situation it only builds mystique for you to have done such that’s why I want you on the show for solidarity beyond just interesting videos that you post having you talk about it in context is the stuff that builds movements and victories I have no doubt that you work hard I need you to help me back as I have helped you that is all I’m saying no one is doubting that you are a hard worker you’re doing a great job I am simply asking you to retweet some of what my reporters are doing over there and to show more solidarity end of line
Jones follows up two texts later, without receiving a response.
Alex Jones to Paul Joseph Watson, 9:27.23 a.m.:
It’s just that the conspiracy mothership as they call Infowars is fighting for his life I really don’t want to have to lay people off that’s why I simply need you to push outside core audience to the sites on a more regular basis so that I can convert them to regular listeners of all of us I have the formula for victory victory victory victory victory victory victory victory
Jones asks Watson numerous times in the texts to use his substantial social media following to support Infowars. Like Jones, Watson is a notorious bigot. Hatewatch reported in May 2022 that leaked audio showed a voice that sounded like Watson saying that he wished someone would “press the button to wipe Jews off the face of the Earth,” in a tirade that also included homophobic and racist slurs.
On Sept. 10, 2019, Jones contacts Watson again with an urgent request. “I NEED you to tweet link out that you are live.” On Sept. 12, 2019, Jones writes to Watson asking him to promote the URL from a failed project he attempted in collaboration with Logan Cook, a Kansas-based man who goes by the pseudonym “Carpe Donktum.” The key words in the URL are “real-stable-genius-presents-cuck-lite.” Hatewatch found a video fitting those keywords parodying an aughts-era Bud Light jingle called “Real Men of Genius.” Instead of Bud Light, the beer brand advertised in the video is “Cuck Lite,” which is short for cuckold.
Alex Jones to Paul Watson, 5:49:45 p.m.
This is it
Alex Jones to Paul Watson, 5:49:48 p.m.
Alex Jones to Paul Watson, Sept. 12, 2019 5:49:50 p.m.
Alex Jones to Paul Watson, Sept. 12, 2019 5:49:53 p.m.
‘Gruesome video’ website
The texts show Jones appearing to bankroll “Carpe Donktum’s MemeWorld,” a project by Cook that would eventually meet with failure. Cook launched the site on Aug. 20, 2019, as a place for people to find pro-Trump and far-right content designed to go viral as “memes” on social media.
The New York Times reported in October 2019 that MemeWorld produced a “gruesome video that showed a fake President Trump killing journalists and political opponents.” The video drew interest in the media after the pro-Trump group American Priority screened it at their conference. Twitter temporarily suspended Cook’s account following the incident and permanently banned him in 2020. Twitter restored Cook’s Twitter account on Dec. 29, 2022, under the leadership of reactionary CEO Elon Musk.
Texts from Aug. 22 and 23, 2019, show that American Priority Conference and Jones financed Cook’s MemeWorld website, even though their names did not appear on it.
From Logan Cook to Alex Jones, 6:39.34 p.m.:
Launching our first sponsored contest through the site in a few days
From Logan Cook to Alex Jones, 12:11.42 a.m.:
American Priority Conference is putting up the prizes
Jones sends Cook a thumbs-up emoji in response. Alex Phillips, organizer of the American Priority conference, tried to put distance between his group and Cook’s video. He issued a statement on Instagram calling the video “unauthorized” and “not approved, seen, or sanctioned by the #AMPFest19 organizers.” He does not reference Cook’s claim that American Priority put up the prizes for the contest that spawned the video. Logan Cook spoke to Hatewatch for this story and said that American Priority put up money for the prizes but did not invest further in MemeWorld. Hatewatch attempted to reach Phillips through a person who did PR for American Priority but did not receive a response.
‘MemeWorld is not where it needs to be as far as traffic’
On Aug. 28, 2019, Cook asked Jones if he felt “happy with the launch so far.” Jones replied, “yes i think it's going well.” But Jones’s relationship with Cook over his MemeWorld site seems to unravel, based on Hatewatch’s interpretation of the texts. The texts initially indicate that Jones may have offered $6,400 per month to Cook, which would add up to a little under $77,000 per year. Within three months, he stops responding to Cook. On Sept. 21, 2019, Cook texts Jones claiming that the Infowars host owed him money.
From Logan Cook to Alex Jones, 9:02.37 a.m.:
Haven't been paid for September. August was 6000 instead of 6400. September needs to be 6800
Jones forwarded the message to business manager Fruge.
From Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 9:02.59 a.m.:
Haven’t been paid for September. August was 6000 instead of 6400. September needs to be 6800
From Alex Jones to Tim Fruge, 9:03.03 a.m.:
From Tim Fruge to Alex Jones, 9:03.11 a.m.:
Do you mind sending me his number? Thanks
Cook messages Jones on Dec. 14, 2019, asking about the future of the project.
From Logan Cook to Alex Jones, 9:29.50 p.m.:
Hey man, can we set up a time to talk soon. Really need to go over some stuff and plan the next phase of MemeWorld
Jones replies that he will set something up. On Dec. 31, 2019, Cook messages again. His words suggest that Jones ended the project. “Zimmerman” refers to Michael Zimmermann, a radical-right figure whose background Hatewatch reported out in 2021.
From Logan Cook to Alex Jones, 4:39.43 p.m.:
First, I got the email from Zimmerman, I agree MemeWorld is not where it needs to be as far as traffic. I want you to know I am not mad about the decision. This was never about getting rich. I want to talk to you about how MemeWorld looks going forward. I know you have been busy, but I have been trying to make meaningful contact with you since October.
Jones does not respond to Cook. Hatewatch looked into MemeWorld and discovered the website no longer functions. The former Infowars employee Drucker said that Jones’ interest in Cook did not last long.
Cook spoke to Hatewatch and described MemeWorld.
“People were being canceled online, and [it was] just a place to put people who were being canceled,” Cook said. “We don’t even have the website anymore. It didn’t work. It took people away from Twitter. It took people away from where they already were.”
Hatewatch asked Cook what he has been doing since MemeWorld collapsed.
“I put out content on the internet,” he said.
Hatewatch also asked Cook if his content made money and he said it did not. Hatewatch asked Cook if he worked a day job to support making content.
“I’m a stay-at-home Dad,” Cook explained.
Hatewatch asked Cook if he would support Trump again for his 2024 presidential campaign, and he said he would.
“You’re catching a side of the sad state of what the right wing really was at that time. When they thought there was money in random dudes in their basement making memes. I used to hate [Cook]. He absolutely was insufferable. It got so insufferable that Alex gave up on him, I think,” Drucker recalled to Hatewatch.
‘Juiced’ view counts on Infowars
Zimmermann, who served as Infowars IT director during the times the texts were sent and received, collaborates closely with white nationalist Nick Fuentes. In 2019, Zimmermann registered domains related to the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist’s writing, and he worked on Fuentes’ website development team, as Hatewatch previously reported. As IT director for Infowars, Zimmerman proposed a plan to Jones on Sept. 12, 2019, that would artificially inflate the numbers of viewers on one of the videos posted to the website.
From Michael Zimmermann to Alex Jones, 5:08.48 p.m.:
Added text to the description. We could also just reset the viewcount if you prefer to something like 35k and it'll go up from there
Jones replies with an audio message Hatewatch could not access.
“There’s a four times multiplier on Banned dot video right now,” Drucker told Hatewatch, alleging that Zimmermann “juiced” view counts for Jones. “The views are a quarter of a size on the back end as they are on the front end.”
Hatewatch reached out to Zimmermann for this story, but he did not respond.
Shell companies and obscure domains
In addition to Christchurch terror-themed domains, Zimmermann also purchased nearly 200 others to host Infowars-linked content, including a domain that Jones used during a COVID-related stunt. He also purchased “WeCantBreathe.news,” which Jones used to promote the June 28 anti-mask rally in Austin.
The texts show how Zimmermann experimented with workarounds for Infowars’ tenuous relationship with Apple Inc. Apple had removed all of the Infowars podcasts in 2018, but elected to allow the Infowars app to remain available on its app store for download by mobile phone users. On Jan. 1, 2020, Zimmerman texts Jones about such plans.
From Michael Zimmermann to Alex Jones, 1:03.27 p.m.:
The app has bugs that we can’t fix because of the inability to push an update to the iOS version. If we change anything server side the app will no longer work.
From Michael Zimmermann to Alex Jones, 1:03.27 p.m.:
I do know that majority of people were reading articles on the browser but using the app to watch the live shows and that part still works without issue. The app ban threw a wrench into a lot of the things we had wanted to do, but an app for Free Creek is a good idea [thumbs up emoji]
Infowars employees created Free Creek Media as one of a few shell companies they registered in 2019. Hatewatch reviewed data leaked from the domain name registration company Epik indicating that Zimmermann purchased the domains freecreekmedia.com and freecreek.media from Epik on Dec. 20 and Dec. 23, 2019, respectively.
Zimmermann also listed himself principal at Vallum Holdings LLC and purchased vallumholdings.com from Epik on November 14, 2019. (Vallum Holdings is listed as a managing member of Free Creek Media LLC up until August 2021.) Another managing member of Free Creek Media LLC was an LLC called JEDKH, short for “Jeffrey Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself.” The principal of JEDKH LLC is listed as another Infowars employee, Robert Dew.
“A lot of times they would open up an LLC in order to open up a website, in order to make T-shirt sales and have that company dedicated to that,” Drucker, the former Infowars employee told Hatewatch. “It was another way of hiding where [things came from].”
Getting around the ‘idiots’ at Facebook
Jones’ text messages suggest Jones and his collaborators sought to launder his Infowars content to social media sites that had banned it, while disguising its true origin. For example, the texts reveal that Jones created the junk-news website National File. In Part IV of this series, Hatewatch noted an event adjacent to the 2020 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., where Jones and the white nationalist Fuentes appeared alongside one another. National File sponsored the event, meaning that Jones collaborated with Fuentes but apparently without disclosing that National File was his project.
Tom Pappert, who was the former administrator of a “God Emperor Trump”-branded Facebook page for fans of the 45th president, created the National File website. In an April 7, 2020, exchange, Pappert and Jones discuss how to use Jones’ new banned.video domain to get around the “idiots” in Facebook’s content moderation division.
From Tom Pappert to Alex Jones, 9:11.27 p.m.:
That’s amazing. I see banned.video everywhere now, I don’t even think some of the people who share it on Facebook know it’s you
From Tom Pappert to Alex Jones, 9:11:40 p.m.:
Censors don’t seem to either, idiots
From Alex Jones to Tom Pappert, 9:12:08 p.m.:
Text messages from Dec. 14, 2019, appear to show that Jones started National File to promote Infowars content and to establish a business vehicle for his son, Rex Jones. Hatewatch reported on Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes’ efforts to buoy Rex Jones’ visibility on the far right in Part II of this series.
From Alex Jones to Tom Pappert, 9:07.56 p.m.:
It was great to see you
From Alex Jones to Tom Pappert, 9:08.44 p.m.:
I will run a plan past a corporate lawyer about what is best to set up for everyone
From Alex Jones to Tom Pappert, 9:09.16 p.m.:
Today was just a brain storming session
From Tom Pappert to Alex Jones, 9:12.08 p.m.:
You too Alex, that makes a lot of sense to make sure all the I’s and T’s are done right. I’m happy to make it work any way we can.
From Tom Pappert to Alex Jones, 9:38.46 p.m.:
I’m very excited to escalate and take things to the next level for the rest of 19 and going into 20. It’s going to be a game changer. Thanks again
Three days later, Pappert and Jones discuss the arrangement again.
From Tom Pappert to Alex Jones, 12:07.26 p.m.:
Signed NDA sent
From Alex Jones to Tom Pappert, 12:32.34 p.m.:
From Alex Jones to Tom Pappert, 12:32.53 p.m.:
Checking will lawyers to make sure it’s all properly done
From Tom Pappert to Alex Jones, 1:23.17 p.m.:
Definitely good to make sure you and Rex are protected. We’re excited to kick into the next gear.
Pappert then follows up with signed contracts on Dec. 31.
From Tom Pappert to Alex Jones, 2:41.01 p.m.:
Signed contracts sent to the AJ inbox
From Tom Pappert to Alex Jones, 5:06.30 p.m.:
Hey we got the contract, signed and sent it back. We’re super excited. Thanks so much. Thanks for having me on too, there’s a massive bump in traffic on this one.
A week later, on Jan. 6, 2020, Jones negotiates with his father, David Jones, about financing National File.
From Alex Jones to David Jones, 7:23.01 p.m.:
Rex needs to pay Pappert
From Alex Jones to David Jones, 7:23.10 p.m.:
You should fund it
From Alex Jones to David Jones, 7:23.18 p.m.:
It’s not my company
From Alex Jones to David Jones, 7:23.32 p.m.:
Mar should do it
From Alex Jones to David Jones, 7:23.38 p.m.:
He needs to be payed
From David Jones to Alex Jones, 8:07.15 p.m.:
It is handled
From David Jones to Alex Jones, 8:07.34 p.m.:
From David Jones to Alex Jones, 8:09.04 p.m.:
Out of MRJR
“Mar” refers to Jones’ sister, Marleigh Jones Rivera, who controls a Nevada-based LLC called MRJR LLC, which David Jones appears to confirm handled the payments to National File. While the Jones family appears to be bankrolling National File as a clearinghouse for Infowars content, a text message from Jan. 31 suggests Rex Jones benefited financially as well.
From Tom Pappert to Alex Jones, 6:47.30 p.m.:
Hey Alex, I meant to get with you earlier but the week got away from me, should I get with your dad to get the info on where to send the royalties for Rex?
Hatewatch reached out to Pappert for this story but did not receive a response. On Feb. 13, 2020, Jones sends a text to Roger Stone saying that the National File website is secretly his own. “By the way off record this is my site,” he writes.
“I know Pappert had a whole network. I think he had three or four reporters under him. And I think Alex just threw a ton of money at it,” Drucker, the former Infowars employee, told Hatewatch. “I know it was meant to be a cross promotion platform. It was meant to push all these products nonstop. There was a huge problem when Pappert didn’t do that.”
‘Everyone was using Alex Jones’
Alex Jones filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 2, 2022, following an order to pay the victims of the Sandy Hook mass murder. His filing showed between $1 million and $10 million in assets and between $1 billion and $10 billion in debt. Pundits have speculated that Infowars’ profits are drying up.
“We’re talking about such outsized numbers that even if he’s able to bob and weave some, I just don’t see how he winds up anything but basically broke now for the rest of his life,” former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman said in October , following the verdict from the Sandy Hook lawsuit.
Drucker, the former Infowars employee, told Hatewatch that Jones’ staff are “dropping off like flies” now, abandoning the extremist, due in part to the toxic perception of the brand.
A 2022 film called Alex’s War showcased Infowars from a different angle than is seen in his private texts, relying heavily on Jones’ own telling of events to craft its narrative. At the film premiere, Fox News talking head Glenn Greenwald hosted a conversation with director Alex Moyer and the Infowars host. Greenwald said the film showcased “the soulful Alex Jones.” The texts suggest that despite being presented as an unbiased look at Jones’ life, Alex’s War may have actually been a fan-created experience.
A 917 area code number texted Jones at nearly 1 a.m. on April 27, 2020. The number appears to belong to J.J. Eisenman, one of three producers of that film. Eisenman inserted what he describes as a photo of himself in the thread. The image differentiates him from the other two producers. Hatewatch reached out for comment to Eisenman and left him a voice mail, but he did not respond.
From Alex’s War producer to Alex Jones, 12:59.15 a.m.:
Dear Alex Jones
Im a good friend of Cernovich and Ali Alexander and a Huge fan of yours for 15 years, heres an amazing film I produced... the best documentary at 2020 SXSW on Amazon.
Alex Lee Moyer
Ali Alexander and Mike Cernovich are radical-right figures who helped push the “Stop the Steal” disinformation campaign in the runup to a pro-Trump mob storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The producer messages Jones nearly 12 hours later to show him 1990s-era rock star Billy Corgan endorsing one of his previous films. He also includes the names of such indie musicians as Ariel Pink and John Maus in the texts. The producer then mentions an “Alex,” Alex Moyer, a woman who eventually directed Alex’s War.
From Alex’s War producer to Alex Jones, 11:33.48 a.m.:
Alex is also a huge fan
From Alex’s War producer to Alex Jones, 11:34.24 a.m.:
Shes also very interested in potentially doing a documentary on the great AJ
From Alex’s War producer to Alex Jones, 11:34.41 a.m.:
Shes very good at dealing with the LIBS — her dad is a liberal that runs sheldon adelson’s news papers in Vegas... hence her savviness
From Alex’s War producer to Alex Jones, 11:34.56 a.m.:
Anyway sorry to blow up your phone
New York magazine covered the premiere of the film in June 2022 and noted that Jones appeared “mortified” after the screening, describing himself as looking like “Jabba the Hutt on PCP.”
Drucker, the former Infowars employee, told Hatewatch that he “always thought everyone was using Alex Jones,” referring to collaborators seeking to access Jones’ infamy. Drucker did not make this remark in the context of Alex’s War but as a general assessment of people who sought to collaborate with Jones, and why Jones’ mistrust of their motives drove his enduring sense of isolation.
‘Why are we giving this dude a platform?’
Both Drucker and former Infowars staffer Joshua Owens told Hatewatch that they saw Jones become more extreme over time, which contributed to their souring on the Infowars brand. Owens recalled seeing a change in Jones around 2015, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained more prominence in the culture. He said it got worse after Jones latched onto Trump.
“I think in most ways [Jones became more extreme],” Owens said. “His rhetoric became more pointed. When the Ferguson protests first started, after Michael Brown was shot and killed, we went [there] to discuss police brutality. … Then Jones stopped focusing on the police brutality part of it and more on the protesters, calling them thugs and using words like that. That’s a small example of how there was a tiny shift that was beginning to start. And then when Trump came on the scene and Jones started supporting him, because he did not support him initially … then Jones would openly talk about border issues and immigration from a much more pointedly [racist point of view].”
Hatewatch previously reported that the Infowars CEO said on leaked 2019 audio that he wished he “never met Trump.” Jones’ comment about Trump preceded by a matter of months the start of the text messages covered in this series.
“Regret is the sole source of why anyone quit Infowars,” Drucker, the former Infowars staffer, said. “Anyone who ever left that job became unable to deal with being morally bankrupt. There’d be so many times where we’d be pushing crazy narratives, and people would get on the phone and call and have the most ass backwards take on it. And Jones would still play devil’s advocate with them. And it’s that type of mentality that would lead to some of the producers behind the scenes being like, ‘Why are we giving this dude a platform?’”
You can read the entirety of this series here.
Illustration by Lincoln Agnew