WASHINGTON — Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones became a sideshow outside two congressional hearings Wednesday, insulting Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as a "little punk" and heckling a reporter, all while posting the spectacle on Facebook and Twitter.
The "Infowars" host stormed around Capitol Hill for hours, streaming appearances of himself on Twitter and Facebook outside the hearings where social media executives were testifying.
Jones' bread and butter is shouting over-the-top grievances and conspiracy theories in videos that he shares on social media, radio and his own websites.
Jones, who is angry at the tech companies because they both suspended him temporarily last month, said he was there to "face my accusers."
At one point he badgered Rubio as the Republican answered reporters' questions in a hallway. Jones called the onetime presidential hopeful a "frat boy" and "little punk" and sounded incredulous as Rubio wondered who he was.
Rubio grew angry when Jones patted him on the shoulder, and told Jones not to touch him again.
"You're not gonna get arrested," Rubio said. "I'll take care of it myself."
The first hearing, in the Senate, was about the social media companies' efforts to prevent foreign intervention after Russian meddling in the 2016 election. A second House hearing focused on Republican assertions that Twitter is censoring conservatives — a charge Jones has championed and the company has denied.
Before that hearing, Jones spotted a reporter waiting in the hall outside the meeting room, and Jones proceeded to berate the journalist, who has covered Jones' website and his suspensions from social media.
Jones said the "real election meddling" is the silencing of conservatives on social media, "just like Communist China."
There is no reliable evidence to support Jones' charge.
Ortutay reported from New York.