‘Are You Free Tonight?’ Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson’s Cozy Texts Leak

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Leaked text messages between Fox News host Tucker Carlson and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones have shed light on the relationship between two of the far right’s most notorious figureheads. The messages, obtained by HuffPost, provide a partial snapshot of the pair’s interactions in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and the extent to which Jones felt comfortable petitioning Carlson for his personal PR needs.

The messages span a time period between September 2019 and May 2020. They are part of a massive trove of communications from the conspiracy theorist that was accidentally forwarded by his lawyers to the prosecution during one of Jones’ 2021 defamation trials. Several of the text messages appear to have been deleted. 

In the messages, the pair discussed gun legislation, Carlson’s efforts to convince former President Donald Trump to take the pandemic seriously, and at least one phone call they had regarding Jones’ fear of criminal prosecution. In one instance, Carlson privately hinted at a talking point that has since become a mainstay of his programming — that Jones’ removal from popular social media platforms was a harbinger of widespread censorship. “If Democrats win in November, they’re going to crush Fox News just as they’ve crushed the NRA. And we’re going to deeply regret letting it happen,” Carlson told Jones. “Everyone who thought it was fine that they deplatformed Alex Jones will look like a fucking moron.”

At one point, Jones personally appealed to Carlson for advice regarding his fear of arrest. Days after incurring public horror following his statement on his show that he was prepared to kill and eat his neighbors in the event of societal collapse, Jones texted Carlson. “I have some very grave news concerning the Democrats working to get me arrested,” he wrote, “hope we can talk today.” “Arrested? My gosh. That’s out of control,” Carlson replied, “are you free this afternoon?” As Carlson and Jones attempted to find time for a phone call, Jones walked back his comments during the InfoWars broadcast. Carlson would later text Jones to indicate his pleasure over having spoken to him. 

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The messages at face value seem fairly innocuous, but the communications give a glimpse into a long-standing relationship that would escalate into Carlson acting as a personal consigliere for Jones. The InfoWars host told HuffPost that the pair have been friends for at least a decade and that Carlson “doesn’t give a flying fuck,” what people think about their relationship, one that has carried over into Fox News’ programming. 

Through the escalation of the pandemic, the violence of the January 6 Capitol insurrection, and a myriad of lawsuits filed against Jones by the surviving families of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, Carlson appointed himself as a principal advocate for Jones. 

Carlson repeatedly made on-air statements praising Jones’ coverage of Covid-19, at one point stating that he has a better grasp of science than members of the White House Covid response team. In December 2021, Carlson told viewers that while Jones is “often mocked for his flamboyance,” he is actually “a far better guide to reality in recent years” than most journalists.

In April, Carlson gave one of his most revealing statements on Jones — telling viewers of his subscription-based Fox Nation show that he never understood why Jones received so much “hate.” He “seems really talented,” Carlson said. “He’s smart. He’s funny as hell. Truly funny. He’s a lot more talented than I am in a lot of ways. That’s my takeaway from Alex Jones.”  Indirectly addressing the lawsuits filed against Jones for claiming that Sandy Hook was a false flag shooting orchestrated by paid actors and inciting harassment against the victim’s families, Carlson said that Jones was being unfairly destroyed for “giving his opinion.” 

The relationship between the two runs so deep that Jones went so far as to lend his ranch to Fox News’ production team in order to film programming for Carlson. The host’s The End Of Menspecial, an hour-long, vaguely homoerotic montage of poorly sourced “bro-science” that blames testosterone levels and men not being manly enough for the collapse of western civilization, was filmed largely at Jones’ Texas ranch

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After Jones was ordered to fork over more than a billion dollars in restitution to the families of Sandy Hook victims, his flagship company InfoWars filed for bankruptcy. However, Jones has no plans to slink away into the darkness and continues to air his standard programming — including a Hitler-praising, holocaust-denying interview with artist Ye. 

The relationship between Carlson and Jones is amongst the clearest indicators of the state of the union between the fringe, conspiratorial right, and mainstream right-wing news operations. One where personal relationships help launder extremism to the general public and where those who face accountability for inciting violence will be cast as martyrs by the leaders of conservative thought. Jones may be headed to bankruptcy court, but with Carlson’s investment, the market for his style of commentary is at an all-time high. 

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