How Alex Jones turned conspiracy theories into a lucrative business.



Alex Jones likes to portray his digital channel, Infowars, as a media outlet, and he is quick to wrap himself in the First Amendment. But in business terms, it is more accurate to describe Infowars as an online store that uses Mr. Jones’s commentary to move merchandise. Its revenue comes primarily from the sale of a grab-bag of health-enhancement and survivalist products that Mr. Jones hawks constantly.

A close look at his career shows that he has been as much a canny if unconventional entrepreneur as an ideological agitator. He has adapted to — and profited from — changes in both the political climate and the media business even as he has tested, and regularly crossed, the boundaries of acceptable public discourse.

For more than two decades, Mr. Jones, who is 44, has built a substantial following appealing to an angry, largely white, majority male audience that can choose simply to be entertained or to internalize his rendering of their worst fears: that the government and other big institutions are out to get them, that some form of apocalypse is frighteningly close and that they must become more virile, and better-armed, to survive.

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