WASHINGTON – Alex Jones, the right-wing conspiracy theorist, tried to make himself the sideshow – even the center – of a Senate hearing Wednesday on social media and elections.
But it was a later hearing, in the House, that was to address his pet cause of a perceived social media bias against conservatives.
Jones made a surprise appearance outside the Senate intelligence committee’s hearing with Facebook and Twitter executives, and he told reporters that he was there to “face my accusers.” He livestreamed a news conference on his Twitter account, which has been restored after a weeklong suspension last month.
The “Infowars” host’s bread and butter is shouting over-the-top grievances and conspiracy theories in videos that he shares on social media, radio and his own websites. He was temporarily suspended from Facebook, and several of his pages were banned for what Facebook said was hate speech and bullying.
Jones says the “real election meddling” is the silencing of conservatives on social media, “just like Communist China.” The companies deny that’s happening and there is no reliable evidence to support Jones’ charge.
After the Senate hearing, Jones clashed with Sen. Marco Rubio as the Florida Republican answered reporters’ questions in a hallway. Jones started talking about “Infowars” and heckled Rubio, called the onetime presidential hopeful a “frat boy” and “little punk,” and sounded incredulous that Rubio didn’t know who he was.
Rubio asked Jones not to touch him. “I just patted you nicely,” Jones said.
Jones also appeared to try to confront Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s No. 2 executive, Sheryl Sandberg, after their Senate testimony. Jones followed at least one of them outside the Senate office building, but the SUV he approaching was pulling away already.
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