‘Don’t touch me again’: Infowars’ Alex Jones, Marco Rubio get into heated confrontation
A routine press scrum nearly turned into political theatre of a different kind after U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was confronted by controversial Inforwars host Alex Jones Wednesday.
What followed was an extremely tense exchange, during which Jones implied Rubio threatened him with physical violence.
Rubio was speaking with reporters outside the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, during which senior representatives from Twitter and Facebook were called to testify about their efforts to combat foreign meddling in U.S. elections.
Jones, who had already made headlines that morning with his appearance at the hearing, interrupted Rubio to, as he put it, “face his accusers.”
“What about the Democrats purging Conservatives? He’s not answering,” Jones shouted. “The Republicans are acting like it’s not happening. Thank God Trump is.”
Reporters attempted to continue their line of questioning, but Jones continued to badger Rubio, calling the Florida Senator a “frat boy” and a “little punk” before demanding to know if he had heard of Infowars.
Things got even more tense when Jones put his hand on Rubio’s shoulder, prompting a blunt reply from the one-time Presidential hopeful.
“Don’t touch me man,” Rubio told Jones.
“I just patted you nicely,” Jones replied, before insinuating Rubio wanted to have him arrested.
“You’re not going to get arrested, man. I’ll handle it myself.”
“Marco Rubio just threatened to beat me up!” Jones shouted to the crowd.
“I didn’t say that,” Rubio said.
The controversial radio host’s appearance at the Senate hearing comes after Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify took down material published by Jones, reflecting more aggressive enforcement of their hate speech policies after rising online backlash and raising pressure on Twitter to do the same.
“Our Community Standards make it clear that we prohibit content that encourages physical harm, or attacks someone based on their religious affiliation or gender identity [hate speech],” Facebook said at the time in a public statement. “We remove content that violates our standards as soon as we’re aware of it.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended his company’s decision not to ban Jones, as many other social media platforms have done, saying he did not break any rules.
During the testimony before the Senate committee that morning, Facebook and Twitter executives say they agree with Congress that strengthening privacy protections for their users is a “national security priority.”
Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg said in prepared remarks that Facebook is addressing the problem but remains slow in spotting it.
Sandberg says Facebook’s overall understanding of Russian activity in 2016 is limited because it doesn’t have access to the U.S. government’s information or investigative tools.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in his prepared remarks that Twitter doesn’t use political ideology to make decisions.
Jones, who has 858,000 followers on Twitter, has built up his profile while promulgating conspiracy theories, including the claim that the 9/11 terror attacks were carried out by the government.
He is perhaps most notorious for claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook mass school shooting, which left 26 children and adults dead, was a hoax and that the surviving relatives are paid actors.
Family members of some of the victims are suing Jones for defamation.
-With files from the Associated Press
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