Alex Jones should get a real job, like being a journalist
If he squints his eyes just a bit, tilts his head back slightly and sticks his jaw out just a little, Alex Jones can look defiant.
Faced with a lawsuit, Jones folds up like a toy, tries to buy off the people suing him and doesn’t show up for his court appearances. If everyone showed up for every court appearance, most courthouses couldn’t handle the crowd.
Still, even if your talk show is best described as “cruel fantasy,” you’d expect a man who can look so defiant in a picture to at least show up and defy in person. And this is not wise. Judges have very little sympathy for the defiant.
Jones, of course, is not only a talk show host; he is a denier of the child massacre at Sandy Hook. The parents of the slaughtered children somewhat predictably fail to get the punchline of Jones’ career, which is that he lies all the time. Tucker Carlson is slicker. He doesn’t lie; he just “shades” the truth so much that it dies from lack of sunlight.
When he’s not spinning degraded fantasies of wrongdoing and revenge, Jones sometimes sells mysterious “brain pills” as well as toothpaste and a variety of other 19th-century medicine show products.
PRO TIP FOR NEWS AND COMMENTARY CONSUMERS: Think twice about a “news person” who tries to sell you a tube of toothpaste.
The thing to remember about a great number of these media stars is that most of them have never done a reporter’s job or, if they did, they didn’t do it for long.
I did. I did that job for decades.
Decades of writing addresses, names, numbers and facts in a $1.25 reporter’s notebook de-Alex Jones-ified me thoroughly.
Sitting on a molded plastic chair at the sparsely attended school board meeting in some happy little suburb, I might spend an hour listening to the good and true members of that board talk about putting speed bumps in the high school parking lot because those darn kids just drive too darn fast.
And the speed bumps would cost $7,986, and they brought in someone from the town’s finance committee to explain that the money couldn’t be taken from the Capital Improvement Fund, but it could be taken from the General Maintenance Fund. What you do to get through those meetings is to remind yourself that the $7,986 is a year’s worth of someone’s property taxes.
And I didn’t know much, but I knew you didn’t write “Capital Improvement Fund” when you should write “General Maintenance Fund,” and for God’s sake, don’t get the dollar amount wrong because, if you do, your office phone will ring the next day, and you’ll be writing a correction.
Same with house fires. Sure, it’s a better story if someone dies, but if no one died, you have to write that no one died. You can’t even juice the story a little by saying that Grandma went up like a torch when, in fact, Grandma wasn’t even home at the time. You also can’t write that it was an arson fire even though the fire chief says it was not an arson fire, and you most certainly cannot say that the fire chief is lying because he’s either gay or a liberal or both.
And that’s why I’m not Alex Jones. I stayed with news, and I never touched a newspaper column until I was 10 years into the business. Skipping over the hard years of a career in news doesn’t mean that your talent was so great that you couldn’t be held back. What it often means is that you skipped the hard stuff, the small stuff, the getting the address right and the spelling the name right, the stuff that teaches you how to do the job and, more importantly, to respect the job.
Justice is seldom as satisfying and colorful as we want it to be, but, if a judge decides to punish Jones for not showing up, I think he oughta sentence him to five years covering the school board for a small newspaper in Oklahoma. After five years of that, he might start getting things right.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion, and read features by Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion’s latest book, a collection of his best columns, is called “Devil’s Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America.” It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, Kindle, and iBooks.