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HBO documentary filmmaker says cable news ‘ramped people up’ for Jan. 6th and influencers like Alex Jones deserve jail time

Andrew with Enrique Tarrio, former leader of the Proud Boys.Andrew with Enrique Tarrio, former leader of the Proud Boys.

Channel 5 News

  • Andrew Callaghan’s new documentary, “This Place Rules,” documents the lead-up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.  
  • He interviewed far-right figures, including Alex Jones, Enrique Tarrio, and supporters of QAnon.
  • Callahan spoke to Insider about the making of the film.

Andrew Callaghan made a career tracking down America’s weirdest subcultures. 

In 2019, the now-26-year-old reporter launched “All Gas No Brakes,” a viral YouTube channel. It’s racked up millions of views interviewing drunk spring breakers, porn stars, Proud Boys, and “flat earthers.”

Dressed in his signature khaki suit, Callaghan lets his subjects do most of the talking. Every so often, he deadpans to the camera, reminding viewers that he, too, can’t believe what he’s hearing.

Callaghan said he spent 2020 crisscrossing the country to attend gatherings that, at the time, seemed like flashpoints in the lead-up to a new civil war. 

Insider spoke with him about the experience, and how he brought it all together for his new documentary, “This Place Rules,” which premieres on HBO on December 30. 

“This Place Rules” follows Callaghan on a year-long RV journey through the US as the country grapples with the pandemic, racial justice, and a monumental election. Delving into a world of political division, white nationalist groups, and conspiracy theorists, the documentary exposes the perfect storm in the months preceding the Capitol attack.

Andrew Callaghan interviewing Alex Jones on the set of Info Wars.Andrew Callaghan interviewing Alex Jones on the set of Info Wars.


You interviewed Alex Jones, Enrique Tarrio, and other fringe figures for “This Place Rules.” How do you convince them to talk to you?

I think just being on the front lines and being kind of like a recurring presence at major political rallies and events. Also, I just kind of nod my way through America without asking any, you know, pre-loaded aggressive questions. And I think I kind of just end up in these crazy situations ’cause I’m able to gain people’s trust pretty quickly.

So in your mind, who’s to blame for what happened at the Capitol?

Well, first of all, I think that January 6th is much more of a riot than it is an insurrection. And I think that the mainstream media is endlessly focusing on it because it’s, it’s very good eye candy. It makes great news. It makes all conservatives look like absolute morons, and it’s good for selling ads. So it was a terrible thing, but there’s reasons they’re dragging it out, and they’ll continue to drag it out until the next major conservative fuck up like that.

I don’t feel, necessarily, that the frontline brainwashed Capitol riot soldier is to blame for what happened. I think it’s the people who push them into action, particularly on the fringe as well. I think mainstream media and social media play a role in ramping up division, but I think it’s people like Alex [Jones] and Enrique [Tarrio] who really are primarily just merchandise salesmen.

We have a serious problem with media echo chambers and informational literacy in this country. We have to take it upon ourselves to be more educated and think on a different level.

Andrew with Enrique Tarrio, former leader of the Proud Boys.Andrew with Enrique Tarrio, former leader of the Proud Boys.

Channel 5 News

So what’s in it for influencers like them?

The “MAGA-sphere” allows for a ridiculous array of hustles and grifts. There’s Forgiato Blow, who built a rap career around the MAGA train. Enrique Tarrio runs the largest right-wing t-shirt shop on the Internet. Alex Jones makes millions of dollars selling brain pills, basically. There’s so many ways to make money in the MAGA world. It’s really appealing for someone trying to get their start as an entrepreneur or a politically active person.

The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack recommended barring President Trump from public office. Do you think that there are others who should be facing legal consequences for their role in that day?

Yeah, absolutely. There should definitely be people who are serving time for January 6th. But I don’t know if it should be the sort of frontline foot soldiers who basically have almost no informational literacy. I think the people who should be in jail for it are brainwashed content creators like Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, Enrique Tarrio, and Alex Jones.

Jake Angeli, the "Q Shaman," talking to Andrew Callaghan from prison.Jake Angeli, the “Q Shaman,” talking to Andrew Callaghan from prison.

Channel 5 News

You interviewed Jake Angeli, the “Q Shaman,” after he was arrested. 

Jake Angeli should absolutely not be in jail. He should be given rehabilitative mental health services, and we should study the guy and figure out how he got there. It appears to me that he has PTSD from Iraq and also has like gone a little bit overboard with psychedelics, experimenting with DMT and psilocybin. I think we have to take people like that and help them.

They put this guy in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. Why the fuck is that necessary? It’s, like, torture. He is going to come out more radicalized than ever. Most people come out of prison, like, with a worse attitude than they went in with, you know.

Andrew Callaghan with the Spencer family at a QAnon rally.Andrew Callaghan with the Spencer family at a QAnon rally.


One of the toughest things to watch in the documentary is the family obsessed with QAnon.

I didn’t really realize up until that point that for some people, the QAnon framework is, like, the fabric of their family and it’s how they connect with each other. It becomes a fun sort of political puzzle and bonding experience for folks. I didn’t realize how all-encompassing it was to the point where it can actually consume a household. It was really sad when they were talking about taking their kids out of school because they didn’t want them to be brainwashed by critical race theory and evolution. And those kids saying they have no friends, that was heartbreaking.

Do you feel that the country has restored some kind of normalcy?

Yeah, in a weird way. I thought that January 6th would be the first event in like a domestic civil dispute, you know, like a civil war.

But in reality, I think a lot of those people just flew a bit too close to the sun, especially when the feds started coming down and handing out like, you know, four- to five-year sentences. And I think they realized like, oh shit, we actually kind of like our calm consumerist lifestyle, you know, of eating in Buffalo Wild Wings and watching “NCIS.” (Laughs).

True revolutions like the Arab Spring — those people’s quality of life was horrible. And that’s why they did a complete political upheaval. Whereas the conservative American protest movement, most of the concerns that they’re upset about are basically manufactured by the news media. You know, it’s not like these people’s quality of life is going down really. They’re basically just being swept up and whipped up into a frenzy by profiteers. 

Channel 5 News interview with "seduction coach" Vince Kelvin.Channel 5 News interview with “seduction coach” Vince Kelvin.

Channel 5 News

So what’s next for you? Back to covering sexual fetish conferences?

I’m on the Channel 5 live tour. So as soon as it’s over, I’m gonna take a break, maybe take a week off until my movie drops. Immediately after that, I’m gonna get back on the road, back to coverage.

I want to start covering migrant issues. There’s a large border crisis happening in El Paso. I want to do more stuff internationally.

I’m tired of talking about 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider