Ties Between Alex Jones and Radio Network Show Economics of Misinformation – The New York Times

by | Jul 24, 2022 | Financial

Ted Anderson, a precious metals seller, was hoping to rustle up some business for his gold and silver dealership when he started a radio network out of a Minneapolis suburb a couple of decades ago. Soon after, he signed a brash young radio host named Alex Jones.Together, they ended up shaping today’s misinformation economy.The two built a lucrative operation out of a tangled system of niche advertisers, fund-raising drives and promotion of media subscriptions, dietary supplements and survivalist merchandise. Mr. Jones became a conspiracy theory heavyweight, while Mr. Anderson’s company, the Genesis Communications Network, thrived. Their moneymaking blueprint was reproduced by numerous other misinformation peddlers.Mr. Jones eventually drifted from his dependence on Genesis, as he expanded beyond radio and attracted a large following online. Yet they were closely tied together again in lawsuits accusing them of fueling a bogus narrative about the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.Mr. Jones was found liable by default in those cases. Last month, the plaintiffs’ lawyers dropped Genesis as a defendant. Christopher Mattei, one of the lawyers, said in a statement that having Genesis involved at trial would have distracted from the main target: Mr. Jones and his media organization.The move freed Genesis, which says on its website that it “has established itself as the largest independently owned and operated talk radio network in the country,” from the steep penalties that most likely await Mr. Jones. But the cases, soon headed before juries to determine damages, continue to shed light on the economics that help to drive misleading and false claims across the media land …

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