Alex Jones isn’t all bad. He’s created more citizen journalists than Andrew Breitbart and James O’Keefe combined, if of an unusual sort. I happen to think it really is a service to the republic to have mobs of camera-armed paranoiacs identifying attendees of Bilderberg meetings. Occasionally they even break news, though it’s usually larded with so much conspiratorial nonsense that it can be hard to pick through.

But that sort of bumbling, confrontational approach is at its worst in the wake of a tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombing. An Infowars “correspondent” showed up in Boston last week to “ask questions”—of course, already convinced that the bombing was a “false flag” operation—and was, well, not very well received.

Further down the rabbit hole are those who believe Jones is actually some sort of COINTELPRO plant for the FBI or Illuminati to discredit those who would “ask questions.”

Whatever else he is, Jones is a remarkable businessman. Infowars is by far the most popular conspiracy theory website, and he’s branched out into selling survivalist gear, conspiracy books, and even a dating site. He’s also a Christian, but the deracinated born-again kind who’s skeptical of “organized religion.” Betsy Woodruff analyzes the theology of Infowars:

There are two forces in Jones’s world. The battle for souls is between the corrosive forces of the New World Order (who have infiltrated everything from the Obama and Bush White Houses to MTV) and the indefatigable human will. Jones is a latter-day gnostic. He wants his audience to wake up from their sleep, emerge from their Platonic cave, and see the world as it truly is. That’s the conversion moment. The next step is walking with Alex Jones in the new life of the spirit. That means getting a filter to remove fluoride from your water (don’t even get him started on fluoride), stocking up on seeds for your emergency garden, and pushing the government to mandate that genetically modified foods have labels. … Alex Jones has the optimism you can have only if you think everything has already gone to Hell. It’s easy to write him off as a kook and a lunatic, but that’s what they did to Jeremiah. The difference between Jones and Jeremiah, of course, is that Jones appears to be a paranoiac.

If you’re looking for a predecessor to Jones’s combination of eschatological Christianity and conspiracy theories, the work of Fritz Springmeier is a good place to start. His 13 Bloodlines of the Illuminati makes the case that the New World Order is satanic rather than just authoritarian or autocratic. For instance, the DuPonts are “a dynasty of Satanic royalty.” He’s not the first to do so but the genealogy is actually pretty solid and he cites a wide range of sources, some credible, some not at all. In 2011 Springmeier was released from prison after being convicted of robbing a bank, and since then Jones has had him on his show multiple times.

Liberals like to point out that Matt Drudge has been instrumental in Alex Jones’s success because the Drudge Report frequently links to Infowars. That’s certainly true, but on a deeper level there’s a symbiotic relationship between what the mainstream media deems worthy of attention and the things conspiracy theorists decide to obsess over. Ron Unz’s article yesterday gets at this point:

Credibility is a capital asset, which may take years to accumulate but can be squandered in an instant; and the events of the last dozen years should have bankrupted any faith we have in our government or media. Once we acknowledge this, we should begin to accept the possible reality of important, well-documented events even if they are not announced on the front pages of our major newspapers. When several huge scandals have erupted into the headlines after years or decades of total media silence, we must wonder what other massive stories may currently be ignored by our media elites.

It’s sad that we even have to ask the question “what else aren’t we being told?” and clearly it can take some people to pretty dark places. But the problem is this: It sounds crazy to say that a death cult lies at the heart of the politico-media elite. Yet Unz claims the evidence is strong that Vioxx killed tens of thousands of Americans after being approved by the FDA. Then the media more or less ignored it being pulled from the market, after taking in millions in advertising money. The same media hyped spurious claims that led America into a Middle Eastern land war, and even today nonchalantly characterizes the American people’s reluctance to start more wars as isolationism.

All I’m saying is at a certain point, the “death cult” idea starts to seem plausible, now more than ever. Perhaps Alex Jones and company have just connected a few too many dots.