Alex Jones

A Texas jury ruled Friday (Aug. 6) that well-known American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay the parents of a six-year-old boy killed during the Sandy Hook massacre $45.2 million in punitive damages in addition to the $4.1 million in compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiffs Thursday.

This was the first time Jones has been financially punished in court for repeatedly lying to his audience about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Shortly after the deaths of 26 people in 2012, 20 of whom were young children, Jones had begun claiming that one of the deadliest school shootings in the United States was a hoax.

About Alex Jones

Jones had portrayed the lawsuit against him as an attack on his freedom of speech, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He had previously called the proceedings a “constitution-destroying, absolute, total and complete farce.” The parents who successfully sued him said his remarks were so vicious that they exceeded the scope of speech protected by the Constitution, the Associated Press reported.
Alex Jones, 48, is perhaps America’s biggest and most influential conspiracy theorist and has been spreading falsehoods on his popular website Infowars for more than two decades. He also broadcasts “The Alex Jones Show” to more than 100 radio stations, reaching an audience of millions. He spreads unsubstantiated claims in his unique screaming lecture style, along with growling and yelling, occasionally ripping off his shirt and pounding the table.
Jones had been spreading some bizarre conspiracy theories. One such theory was that the U.S. government was mixing chemicals into the water supply to make people gay, and had even managed to “make the damn frogs gay.” He argued that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were not people, but demons from hell who smelled of sulfur. Jones was also instrumental in spreading the infamous “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that a Washington, DC, the pizzeria was a front for a child sex trafficking ring involving Hillary and Bill Clinton.
According to a 2017 profile published in the German news organization Der Spiegel, two-thirds of Jones’ income comes from the sale of products often mentioned on his shows, such as toothpaste, “brain pills,” bulletproof vests, and potency pills. As a result, his shows and product line have made him a very wealthy man. On Aug. 5, a forensic economist testified in court that he estimated the combined net worth of Jones and his business entities to be about $135 million and $270 million, respectively.

What was the Sandy Hook murder?

A mass shooting killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2016. The shooter took a few minutes, from about 9:35 a.m. to 9:40 a.m., to massacre 20 children ages six to seven and six adult staff members before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life.
The 20-year-old shooter, Adam Lanzer, had begun the killing in his home when he shot his mother four times with a .22 caliber rifle. He then drove her car to the elementary school, where more than 400 children ranging from kindergarteners to fourth graders were in attendance.
Lanzer was armed with four firearms that his mother had legally purchased – a .22 AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, two semiautomatic pistols, a shotgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Investigators found that the shooter used the AR-15 as his primary weapon. The sheer scale of the violence and the fact that the majority of the victims were young children renewed the age-old American debate over gun control, with advocates calling for a ban on certain types of semiautomatic weapons.

What did Alex Jones do?

Disinformation campaigns are deliberate attempts to spread false information, as opposed to misinformation, which simply means that false information is conveyed without the intent to do so. Alex Jones became a leading figure in spreading disinformation, much of which surfaced very soon after the massacre.
Jones spread a conspiracy theory and said the killings never happened. For years, he has argued on his show that the mass shooting at Sandy Hook was a “huge hoax” and a “false flag” perpetrated by the U.S. government to take guns away from the American public. He also claimed that no one died at the event and accused the parents of being “crisis actors” to influence public opinion.
However, during his testimony in the defamation lawsuit Wednesday (Aug. 3), Jones said he now believes the massacre was “100 percent real,” especially after meeting the victims’ parents.

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the separated parents of a six-year-old victim named Jesse Lewis, told jurors they were subjected to years of harassment and death threats from people convinced by Jones’ conspiracy theories aired on Infowars. “I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years, the hell on earth that I and others have endured because of the recklessness and negligence of Alex Jones,” Heslin said in court Tuesday (Aug. 2) ). Earlier that day, Jones had continued his usual diatribe on his radio program, telling his audience that Heslin was “slow” and being manipulated by evil, evil people, the Associated Press reported.

Who brought the case against Alex Jones?

In 2018, Jones was sued for defamation by 10 families of Sandy Hook victims in four separate lawsuits. The New York Times reported Jones was found liable by default in each case for failing to produce his financial records and other documents over the years despite court orders to do so.
The case, which was decided this week in a Texas court, was brought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis to determine the number of damages Jones would have to pay them for his falsehoods, since he had already been found liable last September.
While the combined $49.3 million was less than the $150 million sought by the parents, it was still a significant victory for them and likely offers a glimmer of hope for other families whose similar defamation lawsuits against Jones are set for September.

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