It's just past 9 a.m. when Alex Jones pulls his Dodge Charger into a desolate parking lot in Austin. From the outside, the squat, single-story office complex that Jones calls his "command center" resembles a moon base surrounded by fields of dying grass. But inside, blinking banks of high-tech recording gear fill the studio where he broadcasts The Alex Jones Show, a daily talk show that airs on 63 stations nationwide. Jones draws a bigger audience online than Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck combined — and his conspiracy-laced rants make the two hosts sound like tea-sipping NPR hosts on Zoloft.
A stocky 37-year-old with a flop of brown hair and a beer gut, Jones usually bounds into the studio, eager to launch into one of his trademark tirades against the "global Stasi Borg state" — the corporate-surveillance prison planet that he believes is being secretly forged by an evil cabal of bankers, industrialists, politicians and generals. This morning, though, Jones looks deflated. Five days ago, a mentally disturbed 22-year-old named Jared Loughner opened fire on a crowd in Tucson, Arizona, killing six and seriously wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner was reported to be a fan of Loose Change, a film Jones produced that has become the bible for those who believe 9/11 was an inside job.
This article appears in the March 17, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive March 4.