Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones appeared on the Piers Morgan show on January 7, 2013 to argue against gun control in the wake of the Newtown, CT shootings that occurred on December 14, 2012. Part 1 of the interview is embedded below with a link to part 2 below the video.
Rhetor: Alex Jones is the Rhetor of focus.
Target Audience: Alex is actually targeting those that are on the fence about gun control by excessively promoting fear of criminals and government throughout.
Exigence: The shootings at an elementary school in Newtown CT, have caused Americans to seriously analyze how firearms are policed and distributed in the county. Immediately after the tragedy, pro-gun and anti-gun advocates furiously jockeyed for position in the mass media. However, gun control advocates, both in the media and in government, became more empowered as public opinion on the issue turned in their favor. This caused pro-gun advocates to increase exposure and fervor on the issue.
Purpose: The general purpose of Alex Jones interview was to come out strongly against gun control and call for an increase in the numbers and exposure of firearms overall as a deterrent to crime and government over-reach. Jones uses an excessive amount of pathos in his overall argument to the interviewer. He not so subtly implies that a decrease in guns will lead to an equal increase in violent crimes and government abuses.
Constraints: The major constraint Alex faces is trying to convince those in the audience that are either undecided or pro gun control is that an increase in guns will make the country safer. This may prove difficult in light of the fact that Newtown involved an elementary school and the the shooting came on the heels of another mass shooting at an Aurora CO movie theater a few months earlier.
Effects and Reaction: According to the press, this particular interview has further painted pro-gun advocates as out-of-touch and tone-deaf in their response to the killings. However, I am sure that most pro-gun advocates will strongly agree with Mr. Jones take on the issue during the interview. From a rhetorical standpoint, the excessive pathos Jones puts on display overshadows his central argument. The loud speech, hand gestures, and facial expressions completely get in the way of his message and make him appear to be un-hinged rather than appealing to the audience. His “delivery” is quite aggressive and, more than likely, will not appeal to those in the audience he is trying to sway assuming that is his goal. In addition, the pathos, and ultimately his entire argument, is not supported with the necessary logos. He uses anecdotal evidence to make his main points throughout the entire process. When these points are challenged by Piers, the interviewer, Alex cannot or will not back them up with concrete evidence and simply reverts to opinion shrouded with emotion. Additionally, the organization of his content is garbled at best. His inclusion of government can confuse the audience and his general points on crime and prevention do not follow an understandable pattern.
Rhetoric is ultimately communication and it has been proven over time that best communicators were the ones that has a firm grasp of fact, appeared level headed, and were able to connect with the audience whether the audience was present or not. While there are no strong reasons to critique the exignece nor the kairos of the interview, it’s the delivery and content that put the purpose and effectiveness of the entire piece into question.