Saturday, August 6, 2022

Alex Jones finally spoke the truth at Sandy Hook’s trial, but he’ll still try to avoid the consequences

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The face of Infowars will fight to avoid his $4.1 million settlement, but at least his victims had a chance to tell him what they think of his lies

It was the moment America’s most notorious conspiracy theorist clashed with what he seems allergic to — the truth.

Alex Jones, the founder of fear-mongering media company Infowars, has been sentenced by a jury to pay $4.1million (£3.3million) to the parents of six-year-old Jesse Lewis, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012.

On his radio show, Mr Jones had claimed the incident was “staged” to allow the US government “to go after our guns”.

He described the shooting, which killed 20 children between the ages of six and seven, as “completely untrue” and that their grieving parents were “actors”.

Mr Jones has previously claimed that Hillary Clinton was involved in a child sex ring operated from a Washington pizza restaurant and that the US government had “weather weapons” to control the climate.

He avoided being held accountable for his false statements until Jesse’s parents and others whose children died at Sandy Hook sued him for defamation over his comments about the massacre.

Mr. Jones’ failure to produce documents resulted in a default judgment against him, and so the Austin, Texas jury was instructed to calculate the amount of damages.

The hearing resulted in extraordinary scenes that I believe should be part of the GCSE media literacy curriculum.

A high priest of disinformation was forced to sit there while Jesse’s mother, Scarlett Lewis, spoke directly to him and said, “Jesse was real. I’m a real mom.”

Ms Lewis looked straight at Mr Jones as he shook his head and said losing a son in such circumstances was “excruciating pain”.

She told Mr Jones: “Furthermore having someone keep up a lie that it was a hoax, that it didn’t happen, that it was a false flag and that I was an actress…

“You think I’m an actress?”

In an equally heartbreaking statement, Jesse’s father, Neil Heslin, described the “living hell” they had gone through and how they had become the target of harassment and abuse from Mr Jones’ supporters for a decade.

Through tears he said: “I fear for my life. I fear for my safety and the safety of my family and their lives.”

Mr Jones’ disdain for the hearing was all too evident, and at one point the judge reprimanded him for chewing gum.

As the case progressed, Mr Jones went on the air and suggested on his show that the jury was not intelligent and that Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, who was overseeing the case, was linked to pedophiles.

During scathing cross-examination, Mr Jones attempted to explain himself by saying that “the internet has questions,” a statement that sums up much about the world right now.

Sweating profusely, Mr Jones – who has been banned from Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, Google and Apple and is therefore broadcasting on his own website – admitted Sandy Hook did in fact happen after years of denying it.

He was confronted with texts and emails that his lawyers accidentally sent to Mark Bankston, Jesse’s parents’ attorney.

They showed that Mr Jones, who harbored and promoted Donald Trump well before his presidential campaign through the conspiracy theories that came after, had made $800,000 (£658,000) by selling his products, such as merchandise and vitamin supplements, in a single day .

Ms Lewis had asked Mr Jones why he kept peddling his lies when he knew they were false – that kind of money seems a convincing answer.

Mr Bankston pointed out that the texts also showed Mr Jones had claimed he had searched his phones for texts about the Sandy Hook case and found none – but there were many.

“You know what perjury is, don’t you?” Mr. Bankston said to Mr. Jones, who pointed out that he did.

The judges’ prize of $4.1million is far less than the $150million (£124million) requested by Jesse’s parents.

The jury isn’t done yet, however, as they have to decide punitive damages, which could be much higher.

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