scorecardTrump's top alternative media backers defend their controversial actions by saying they play 'characters'
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Trump's top alternative media backers defend their controversial actions by saying they play 'characters'

Trump's top alternative media backers defend their controversial actions by saying they play 'characters'
PoliticsPolitics3 min read

roger stone alex jones

Ben Jackson/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Alex Stone, Roger Stone, and Jonathan Alter pose for a photo at the Republican National Convention.

In the Netflix documentary "Get Me Roger Stone," set to be released on May 12, the infamous Republican political operative and self-described "agent provocateur" at one point slightly chides his documentarians for saying Stone was to be taken seriously at all times.

"Sometimes you confuse me with the Steve Colbert-type character that I sometimes play," Stone says in the film, addressing a question about one of his statements.

Stone, one of President Donald Trump's longtime political confidantes and boosters, is one of several pro-Trump media figures who has increasingly defended his actions by positing that his public persona - that of a bomb-throwing dirty-trickster - is intentionally over-dramatized to make a point and provoke a response.

Many in the pro-Trump, far-right media sphere happily traffic in a politics that is equal parts theatrical, comedic, and narcissistic.

Former Breitbart News writer Milo Yiannopoulos posted a music video of himself drinking champagne while shirtless men built a border wall through the desert. The Gateway Pundit's White House correspondent, Lucian Wintrich, told the New Yorker that he attended official press briefings primarily to troll follow reporters. Pro-Trump media personality Mike Cernovich began writing about himself on his Medium page in the third person.

But as the alternative conservative media universe has garnered greater attention, some high-profile figures have been forced to illuminate the line between themselves and their "characters," particularly when their personas' actions have real-world consequences.

InfoWars founder Alex Jones' child-custody battle has increasingly become the center of national media attention. That's in part because the evidence against Jones includes his wildest stunts, including getting half-naked to sell male vitality supplements and his disappointment he hasn't received a Pulitzer Prize for his belief that the September 11, 2001, terror attacks were orchestrated by the US government.

Last week, Jones' lawyer, Randall Wilhite, compared the bombastic right-wing radio host to actor Jack Nicholson playing the Joker in "Batman," saying Jones' persona shouldn't be considered relevant material in evaluating the InfoWars founder's parenting capacity.

"He's playing a character," Wilhite said of Jones. "He is a performance artist."

But even Stone believed that the description deserved more nuance.

After the "Get Me Roger Stone" premiere in New York on Sunday, the infamous Republican operator told Business Insider why Jones' attorneys failed to adequately explain what he was doing.

"Alex Jones' lawyer misstated the point," Stone told Business Insider.

"It's not that he is an actor who does not believe what he is saying. It's that he is a character who uses dramatization, satire, humor to make his points," he said. "That makes him interesting. When he's interesting, more people watch. When more people watch, you have a greater chance to educate and make the point you're trying to make."

And while Stone openly admits to assuming a character to bring attention to his points, he isn't the only one of Trump's top advisers has been accused of opportunistic shape-shifting.

In an article titled "Stephen K. Bannon, performance artist?" The Washington Post argued that based on a New Yorker profile that chronicled Bannon's past in the entertainment industry, his current nationalist pose could be a "character assumed in pursuit of power." The article described Bannon's move to the right as potentially "calculated" and a cynical attempt to build a coalition of fringe followers.

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