The Truth Vs. Alex Jones Review | Implausible Denial

by Andrew Parker

A stark portrait of callous opportunism and a tireless fight for accountability, Dan Reed’s The Truth Vs. Alex Jones looks to the trials of a controversial, outspoken “pundit” and uncovers a collective American mental illness and sickness in the process. At nearly a full two hours, The Truth Vs. Alex Jones is a long time to spend in such a dark, depressing, and depraved head space, but it’s also an important look at the spread of misinformation and baseless conspiracy theories, and the personalities that perpetrate them and profit from the discomfort and heartbreak of others. It’s a wrenching, infuriating, but necessary reflection of our times.

Filmed over the course of four years, Reed’s film looks at the pair of defamation lawsuits brought against Infowars host, producer, and creator Alex Jones on behalf of parents and relatives of the children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Almost as soon as it happened, Jones – a noted extreme right wing personality and supplement salesman – was decrying the shooting as a hoax; a “false flag” incident where no one died and everyone involved in conveying the news being hired “tragedy actors.” Such statements were blatantly dishonest and abusive towards those impacted by the deaths of 26 adults and children, but that never stopped Jones from doubling down on his stances and employing like minded “reporters” and “researchers” to help forward his agenda and boost his numbers and sales. Two lawsuits were filed – one on behalf of two families, filed in Jones’ native Texas, the other on behalf of dozens of families back in Connecticut – that sought to expose Jones to the world as a baseless hack. But when almost a quarter of Americans tend to believe Jones’ ill formed, bad faith theories, that could be easier said than done.

The word that best describes The Truth Vs. Alex Jones is brutal. Told from both sides of the trials – although, perhaps unsurprisingly, not from Jones directly, only via his lawyers and cronies – Reed (Finding Neverland, Four Hours at the Capitol) gets directly to the heart of the matter, and viewers will be shocked at what they discover, even if they think they know the full story. For their part, Jones’ supporters and co-workers (save for some former behind-the-scenes Infowars employees) are remorseless, always stopping just shy of saying that even if they are lying and making up facts, calling them out infringes on their First Amendment rights. They show no remorse for mobilizing hundreds of their viewers and followers to harass and belittle grieving families. They can’t move on in their pain and suffering because a mob has risen up to call all of them liars.

The Truth Vs. Alex Jones examines why it’s nearly impossible to argue with a fundamentalist of any kind, be it political, religious, social, or otherwise. Whenever they pose a question that’s easy to answer with verifiable facts, they will often dismiss these truths as fabrications or hoaxes designed to obscure a real truth that probably doesn’t exist and that could never be proven. These people take their beliefs as truths, leaning into them without ever questioning if they can be proven or if their actions are distasteful, in bad faith, and hurtful to others. They care about exposure, numbers, being heard, and selling those supplements that viewers can always buy from the URL always spotted in a prominent place on screen. Sure, they want their voices to be heard, but they also want to profit from them. It’s honestly the American way, so it’s easy to see the appeal. Such behaviour also speaks to a specific sort of person: those who have had it rough, think the whole world is against them, and they are too broken to actually delve into the truth behind what that might mean. It is a collective mental illness that plagues modern society, and people like Jones have found ways of monetizing it. They know all the buzzwords and they keep repeating them until they start hearing the sounds of chiming cash registers. He’s a host that not only exploits the traumas and struggles of others, but also his own audience.

Even the people who are clearly lying in The Truth Vs. Alex Jones are being backhandedly honest, simply because they are talking about the topics they have doubled down on repeatedly in their own minds. It contrasts perfectly with the raw pain, anguish, and anger displayed by the family members willing to talk with Reed about the upcoming legal proceedings, which are only about monetary compensation, as the courts had already found Jones and Infowars liable for damages. Reed takes a deep dive into the psychology and manipulation behind Jones’ productions, catching him in every lie and and illustrating the ways he seeks to protect his unproven, outlandish theories. Jones continues to punch down at those who already find themselves at their lowest points and in their darkest hours, all so he can boost his sales numbers.

Jones’ detractors will recoil at hearing and reliving a lot of the nonsense he spews, but they’ll find plenty of solace in watching the actual trial footage captured by Reed. The Truth Vs. Alex Jones includes footage from Jones’ now legendarily damaging 2019 videotaped deposition, but the real crux of this documentary comes from witnessing what happened in the Texas and Connecticut courtrooms, even on days when the defendant couldn’t be bothered to show up in person because he was too busy hosting his show. Prosecutors, survivors, judges frequently express dismay over Jones’ blatant grandstanding, which is made even worse by the fact that the talk show host continued to talk about his legal troubles in baseless, inflammatory terms throughout the progress of the hearings. It’s a lot like watching someone dig their own grave in real time, only they lie and say that they’re really building a mansion.

Denial is a powerful thing. The Truth Vs. Alex Jones takes a look at people who would rather believe elaborate lies than confront complex truths. While this specifically looks at Sandy Hook and the fallout from Jones’ remarks, the lessons found within Reed’s documentary extend far beyond the case and players at hand. The pandemic, the most recent presidential election in the US, the influence of unions, the Holocaust, the current conflict in Palestine; anything that can be seen as controversial can come with its own spin, and a good deal of it these days often comes without any sort of factual, scientific, or logical basis. It’s a situation that only gets worse over time in a society that reveres outsized personalities and has little empathy left for survivors of tragedies and those continuing to fight for their livelihoods. Sometimes when people read between the lines, they don’t like what they find, and are willing to invent a new text entirely.

The Truth Vs. Alex Jones premieres on Crave in Canada and HBO in the US on Tuesday, March 26, 2024 at 9:00pm.

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