Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones exchanged heated words with one another outside the Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearing with Facebook and Twitter leaders on Wednesday. The tense interaction seemed like it might turn into a physical altercation after Jones put his hand on Rubio’s shoulder.
The bizarre moment raises questions about how someone as unhinged as Jones could get close a U.S. Senator in a government building, but the moment would be tense and probably a little frightening if it weren’t so ridiculous.
As seen in the video above, Jones — whose content has been banned from Facebook, Apple, and YouTube for violating terms of service that don’t allow calls to violence and hate speech — continued to heckle Rubio while he was trying to speak with reporters.
“Who is this guy?” Rubio asked at one point. “Is that a heckler at a press gaggle?”
As Jones continued to heckle him, Rubio finally asked him directly, “Who is this guy? I swear to God, I don’t know who you are, man.” Jones — who is known for spreading conspiracy theories about mass shootings like the idea that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a “false flag” incident and that Marjory Stoneman Douglas student activists are “crisis actors” — briefly explains he’s from Info Wars, as Rubio rolls his eyes. And that’s when things got interesting.
“Look at this joke over here,” Jones says in the video, then he reaches out and pats Rubio on the shoulder. A man standing behind Rubio tells Jones to “put his arm down,” to which Jones, replies, “Sure.” Rubio, who was clearly deeply annoyed, turns to Jones and says, “Hey, don’t touch me again, man. I’m asking you not to touch me again.”
Jones asks if he’s going to be arrested, to which Rubio replies, “You’re not gonna get arrested, man. You’re not gonna get arrested. I’ll take care of it myself.” Jones then accuses Rubio of threatening to beat him up. Rubio rolls his eyes again and says that’s not what he said, but Jones runs with it.
“You are literally like a little gangster thug,” Jones tells the senator. The exchange continues while Rubio keeps trying to answer reporter questions, with Jones throwing in choice comments like, “The Democrats are raping the Republicans.”
Watching the world almost-fight kept opponents of both — each is on right side of the political spectrum, Rubio is the establishment and Jones is the on the extreme wing — entertained:
Finally, Rubio leaves, and says “you guys can talk to this clown,” which sets Jones off again. He calls Rubio a “frat boy” and a “punk” as Rubio walks away, before insinuating he’s gay by shouting, “Go back to your bathhouse” as Rubio walked away.
Reactions largely fell on Rubio’s side. The more prominently shared comments on Twitter conveyed that the whole thing was pretty odd, and some were just resigned to the idea that maybe this is just what 2018 is now: a bizarre and inescapable hell scape where conspiracy theorists and our elected representatives almost fight in the hallway of the Senate.