The Bilderberg Group, a secretive confab of politicians, economists, academics, and business leaders, met in Watford, England, over the weekend, and the BBC's Sunday Politics show was on it. For the uninitiated, the segment started out with a short primer on Bilderberg and its fascination for conspiracy theorists.
The fireworks started when host Andrew Neil introduced his guests for the panel discussion: Alex Jones, the conspiracy-minded alternative-media mogul, and Times of London journalist David Aaronovitch, who has written a book debunking conspiracy theories. It was about as calm a discussion as you'd expect. (Watch above — the conversation starts at the 3:40 mark.)
As soon as Neil asks Jones about Bilderberg — Jones is leading a protest of the gathering — the American radio host starts off full bore about fluoridated drinking water causing bone cancer. After Neil steers the topic back to Bilderberg, Jones rails against the euro and big banks, then charges that "Bilderberg is heavily involved in the E.U. plan and helped hatched it, and it is a Nazi plan."
Neil tries to foster a discussion by asking Aaronovitch about Bilderberg, and Aaronovitch asks Jones why he's still alive if the New World Order is so powerful and deadly, and he is its main antagonist? Jones says he has been threatened, but "they" don't want to make a martyr of him. The rest of Aaronovitch's banter is buried under Jones' interruptions.
Neil has finally had enough, telling Jones to "shut it." That really sets Jones off, and Neil finally ends the segment telling Jones he is "the worst person I've ever interviewed," telling the viewers: "We have an idiot on the program today." With Jones still screaming in the background, Neil circles his finger around his ear in the universal "he's crazy" sign.
Everyone took to Twitter for their postmortems of the program:
Jones told me afterwards that his appearance on @daily_politics had been a great success. I told him that Brits don't much like yelling.— David Aaronovitch (@DAaronovitch) June 9, 2013
And the moment Alex Jones knew he was no longer on air he stopped. All an act. #bbcsp.— Andrew Neil (@afneil) June 9, 2013
This amazing piece of television is "funny, but it's also sad," says John Aravosis at AmericaBlog. "I don't know if Jones is considered left or right, but he's a good example of the crazy shock jock style that infests much of right-wing talk radio and talk TV in this country. And it is embarrassing to have him go on a show abroad [as] 'the American.'"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- 6 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: November 22, 2014
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- Don't change a thing: 8 inventions that never needed updating
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
Subscribe to the Week