Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz on Wednesday said he will not appear conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s InfoWars show anymore.
As one of Trump’s most dedicated defenders and on-air surrogates in the face of special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation, Gaetz made an appearance on InfoWars with Jones in January to discuss a “cabal” that the Republican lawmaker said was secretly trying to take down the president.
By then, Jones was already well-known for promoting dangerous conspiracy theories, including the claims that a Democratic pedophile ring operated out of a D.C. pizzeria and that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax perpetrated by “crisis actors.”
But now Gaetz has changed his mind about this particularly popular far-right outlet, saying in a Wednesday appearance on Hill TV that he will not grace Alex Jones’ network with his presence anymore.
“Upon further reflection, I think that the things that Alex Jones has said and done are so hurtful to so many people that a member of Congress should not grace that platform and legitimize it, and I would not go back,” Gaetz said.
The congressman’s staff didn’t respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment, nor did he further elaborate to Hill TV about what specifically changed his mind about InfoWars.
On Tuesday, however, Gaetz attended a House Judiciary Committee hearing on social-media filtering practices, in which representatives from Facebook and YouTube were pressed by lawmakers on why they allow Jones and InfoWars to use their platforms despite peddling dangerous and false conspiracy theories.
Gaetz claimed on Wednesday that his InfoWars appearance earlier this year was simply part of an effort to reach Jones’ substantial audience.
“I think that as policymakers that we have an obligation to sort of have a kaleidoscope approach where we engage in multiple platforms, even those that are uncomfortable to us,” Gaetz said. “I go on MSNBC—they don’t hold my views.”
But Gaetz’s appearance on InfoWars was far from combative. Jones praised him as “one of the strongest, most focused, eloquent, on-target voices” in politics, and Gaetz said it was “good” to be on the show. Jones did not respond to a request for comment.
Gaetz recently fell victim to a hoax of his own. He was among the Republican lawmakers and activists who were duped into appearing in a gun-related segment of Sacha Baron Cohen’s new Showtime series.