Michael Rotondo has had a strange week. The unemployed 30-year-old became an odd sort of celebrity when a news story about his parents trying to evict him from their house went viral, and he's become both a cautionary tale and a stand-in for a generation that is staying in the nest longer than previous cohorts of young people. He's been on CNN and Fox News to defend himself, but those appearances just seemed to make him a target for more ridicule. Then, on Friday, he popped up on Alex Jones's Infowars show.
Jones, the Trump-loving far-right conspiracy theorist who was recently sued for defamation by a man Infowars wrongly identified as the Parkland shooter, and also sued by parents of the Sandy Hook shooting victims for calling the tragedy a "giant hoax," might seem like an odd figure for Rotondo to speak with. But over the course of the long interview, the millennial seemed at least somewhat simpatico to Jones's fractured worldview, and Jones also said he gave Rotondo $3,000 (£2,254), which he probably badly needed.
Before the interview, Jones blasted Rotondo, saying (to Ron Paul), "This entitlement is just next-level!" and declaring that he wanted to have the young man on his show "to try to talk some sense into him." During Rotondo's appearance, however, Jones struck a more agreeable tone, preaching about the virtues of hard work and emphasizing that Rotondo needed to take "steps" in order to reach his goal. The host went on for some time about how he had worked his way up from an obscure radio host to a video maker to an ideological media mogul. Rotondo seemed to warm to this, then Jones changed the subject: "There have been millions of sex changes in this country that taxpayers pay for. I don’t have to pay for you to get a nose job, do I?"
"I don't think so," Rotondo replied.
"No, I like my nose the way it is."
Jones then said he likes Rotondo's "noble nose" and that his wife's nose is so big she gets mistaken for a Jew, but he also likes her nose so much he'll divorce her if she gets a nose job.
The interview went on like that, with Jones mostly trying to give Rotondo a pep talk, but also occasionally veering into weird territory. He told Rotondo he "came off as autistic on television" ("OK" was the reply), told him that he should have asked for money for his other TV appearances, said that many people like Rotondo "don't just stay in their parents' house, they get recruited by the globalists," and talked at length about time travel and genetics and how we are all the product of our ancestors.
Then there was a tangent about racism, which Jones said was real but "amplified to divert everyone from everything else that's happening."
A visibly confused Rotondo replied, "In like the media, or...?"
Jones shot back: "5G is going to kill a billion people in the next 20 years from cancer. Now tell me how the goddamn racism is important!"
(This was the biggest point of disagreement in the interview, with Rotondo saying, "Personally I think the racism is more important than the 5G thing.")
Jones also tried to draw out Rotondo on his goals in life, but the interviewee was coy, just saying he wanted to start a business. "You have to say what your ideas are," Jones prodded him. "Go past the fear... What is the business, in a generality?"
"Tech. Information technology."
"In general, what's the tech idea?"
"It's not really an idea, it's an ideology."
"What's the ideology?"
"That the stuff you get from me works."
But on the whole, beyond the bits where Jones said the UN controls the National Parks and industrial-level human cloning is happening, it was a very positive Infowars segment. Jones really did seem to be trying to inspire Rotondo in his way, not unlike a high school shop teacher who has just gotten fired and wants to tell kids what life is really like.
He had some genuinely good advice: "I think you should go back, no matter what your parents have done to you, and say, 'Thank you for life and I appreciate you and I'm going to figure out how to make money and be a part of society," Jones said. "From then, if you can do those basics, the big ideas will come."
Rotondo left the show not only with that thought, he got the $3,000 check, which he said would let him move out of his parents' house at last, and also some of Jones's famous supplements and a book called The Killing of Uncle Sam, which the Infowars host said was "super accurate."
Jones told him to read that book and that in three weeks he'd have him back on, a prospect that Rotondo seemed really excited by. "You and I are going to be dealing with each other and working together for a while," he told Jones.
"Not if you don't start taking steps," the host replied.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.