Far right radio show host and Youtube comment section come to life Alex Jones has been entangled in a custody battle with his ex-wife over their three children. He is known for interviewing the current president during the campaign trail and even having presidential support for his show. With the Alex Jones Show and Infowars.com, he is infamous for spewing ridiculous conspiracy theories and false information with an outrageous temper.
One of the notorious fake news stories that he promoted was “Pizzagate,” which was the theory that there is a human trafficking ring running in the basement of Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant Comet Ping Pong. Despite this being completely false, believers took action. A particular man brought a gun to the restaurant and fired it three times, only to realize that the restaurant does not even have a basement. No human trafficking evidence was ever found, and the man was arrested. Fortunately, no one was injured from the horrific incident. Jones apologized, but went on to spread other ludicrous information to his audience.
In his custody battle, his wife used video clips of him doing his talk show to prove that he is mentally incapable of caring for their children. However, according to Jones’s lawyer, Jones merely plays a character. As a presenter, apparently, those clips do not show his true character. This begs the question: what happens when media and entertainment are blurred together?
Mixing media and entertainment does have its benefits. For example, in the case of late night, shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee just to name a few, manage to inform their audience about the latest current events in a comedic way. Most people find it boring to watch, listen, or read from a typical news medium, so this would be a compromise. With a hint of humor, people can be entertained and informed at the same time.
However, there are far more dangers to blurring media and entertainment than benefits. Referring to late night television again, they are not real news sources, so these hosts are allowed to have their own biases when reporting their information. Because there are open biases, the viewers are not equipped with objective information. These hosts are also not held accountable to telling the truth. When criticized, they can just claim what they say is merely entertainment. The blur allows these people to tap dance back and forth between news and entertainment as they wish.
Jones’s career exemplify most of the dangers of blurring news and entertainment. To some people, especially our current president, Jones seems like a reliable news source even though most of what he says should only be for entertainment. Should media and entertainment be mixed together? No, because the cons clearly outweigh the pros, but it will continue to happen. The next question is: when they do mix, what should be done about it?
Entertainment and media share many areas. The two cannot be completely separated. This makes a system to regulate the two impossible. However, as part of the audience we can still do something on our part. We can be observant, watchful, and vigilant. If we are getting information from a news medium, we need to do our own research by cross checking the information from multiple sources to ensure accuracy.
If we get information from an entertainment source, we need to take that information with a grain of salt. It is tempting to be lazy and not do the extra work, especially as a college student with numerous essays and midterms to work on, but it is still crucial to be an individual equipped with the correct information. After all, it is kind of important to know whether you are supporting a local pizza shop that is running a human trafficking ring in their basement.