US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages to the family of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, but has his day in court come too late in America’s battle for truth?
Interviewer: “Do you actually believe everything you say?”ABC News
Alex Jones: “I believe all of it, absolutely. I’m telling the truth.”
Interviewer: “None of it is, you know, a schtick? A show at all?”
Alex Jones: “No, it’s all true.”
When it comes to conspiracy theories Alex Jones has few equals.
For over 20 years, he has made a name – and a fortune – peddling misinformation and lies on his website InfoWars. Often claiming to have insider knowledge or access to secret government documents.
Interviewer: “9/11 was an inside job?”ABC News
Alex Jones: “Yes, 9/11 was an inside job. It was a staged event to launch the Iraq war to set up a domestic police state here in the United States”
“I think they’re gonna go ahead and make their move to kill the president. I think – I think in the next thirty days. I think they’re gonna make an assassination attempt.”
“I have all these other government documents where the government proposes and government think tanks propose poisoning the water to dumb down the population and make it more easily manageable”
And despite being permanently banned from YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, PayPal, Apple’s App Store, Linkedin, Mailchimp, Pinterest and more, Alex Jones’ live streams are still viewed by millions of people each month. Until recently, he was reported to make up to 800,000 dollars a day selling vitamin supplements and merchandise through his website.
Abusing America’s commitment to free speech is big money and for a long time Alex Jones got away with it.
Until a group of families decided enough was enough.
“It took me about a year with Sandy Hook to come to grips with the fact that the whole thing was fake.”Alex Jones, Infowars
That was Alex Jones in 2014.
He’s referring to the shooting that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School two years earlier. 20 children and six members of staff were killed.
He went on his show and claimed that the entire thing was a hoax and that the parents were really just crisis actors hired to make it look real.
Lawyer: “You’ve done mocking imitations of Sandy Hook parents crying, correct?”Alex Jones court case
Alex Jones: “No.”
Infowars clip: “And then you’ve got parents laughing, going ‘hahaha’ and then they walk over to the camera and go [imitates crying]. I mean, not just one, but a bunch of parents doing this.”
In April 2018, Neil Heslin – the father of one of the victims – was the first to file a defamation lawsuit against Alex Jones, InfoWars and its umbrella company Free Speech LLC.
He was then hit with three more defamation lawsuits from the family members of other victims and an FBI agent who had responded to the shooting.
As you can imagine, a court of law is like kryptonite for a conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones, so will these lawsuits put an end to his lies?
Alex Jones has now said that he believes the Sandy Hook shooting “100% happened”.
But the damage had already been done to the families of the victims, so in July the first defamation trial began.
“The media still ran with lies that I was saying it wasn’t real on air yesterday. It’s incredible they won’t let me take it back they just want to keep me in the position of being the Sandy Hook man.”Alex Jones, court case
And it didn’t go well for him.
“Your attorneys messed up and sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cell phone with every text message you’ve sent for the past two years…that is how I know you lied to me when you said you didn’t have text messages about Sandy Hook.”Lawyer, Alex Jones court case
But he still found time to go on his radio show in the middle of the trial to disparage Neil Heslin, the father who’d brought the lawsuit.
“It’s not an act. He is being manipulated by some very bad people. I mean, I’ll just say it ‘cause I’ve got to be honest. He’s slow, okay?”Alex Jones
On the 29th of July, Free Speech Systems LLC filed for bankruptcy.
And in early August, the jury ordered Alex Jones to pay a total of 49.3 million dollars in damages.
InfoWars made Alex Jones a very wealthy man… but with more defamation trials coming his way and a number of his companies filing for bankruptcy, this could well spell the beginning of the end for one of America’s most prominent conspiracy theorists.
But he’s not the only one…
“The Democrats are the party of paedophiles. The Democrats are the party of princess predators from Disney.”Marjorie Taylor Greene
Marjorie Taylor Greene, who supports the online conspiracy theory QAnon, now sits in Congress.
And a raft of supporters of former president Donald Trump, who say the last election was stolen, have a real chance of being elected in the next few months.
America may soon have far bigger problems than Alex Jones.
This episode was written by Tomini Babs and mixed by Ella Hill.