The chickens have come home to roost in Alex Jones’s purse, and they’re going to pick it clean. Just a few minutes ago, a jury in Connecticut ruled that the Infowars loon will have to pay the families of Sandy Hook victims (and an FBI agent) almost a billion dollars. Here’s the NYT story ripped from the headlines:
Alex Jones and Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, must pay close to $1 billion to the family members of eight victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and an F.B.I. agent who responded to the scene of the 2012 massacre, which killed 20 first graders and six educators.
Mr. Jones had been found liable for defamation after he spent years falsely describing the shooting as a hoax and accusing the victims’ families of being actors complicit in the plot. As a result, the families were threatened in person and online. He used his Infowars platform to spread these lies.
The jury’s decision divided the money among 15 plaintiffs: 14 relatives of eight Sandy Hook victims, and William Aldenberg, an F.B.I. agent targeted by conspiracy theorists. The plaintiffs were awarded varying amounts by the jurors, who considered their testimony and other evidence presented in court to gauge the damage done to their reputations, invasion of their privacy and other factors.
Mr. Jones has a third Sandy Hook damages trial pending stemming from a defamation suit he lost to Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, parents of Noah Pozner. An earlier trial, in the suit brought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, parents of Jesse Lewis, ended with Mr. Jones being ordered to pay $4 million in compensatory damages and $45.2 million in punitive damages to the Mr. Heslin and Ms. Lewis.
This case presented the greatest financial risk to Mr. Jones, because he was found liable of violating Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, by using lies about the shooting to sell products on Infowars. There is no cap on punitive damages under that law.
Alex Jones may be wealthy, but I don’t think he has a billion dollars, and the final damages are yet to come
Here’s the full verdict (eight minutes):
Here’s the full verdict. https://t.co/Vn4KkzRMfS
— The Recount (@therecount) October 12, 2022
Yet the man is unrepentant. Soon he will be selling pencils from a tin cup on a street corner:
Jury sends clear message to Alex Jones that they believe he needs to stop.
Alex Jones: “We’re not going to stop.” https://t.co/6AqA2TmWOa
— Zach Haberman (@ZHaberman) October 12, 2022
36 thoughts on “Alex Jones’s damages to Sandy Hook families he defamed: nearly a billion dollars”
Serves the lying bastard right. Admitting that his claims were baseless now and washing his hands of the actions caused by him setting his band of idiot followers onto the poor bereaved families is too little, too late. I hope he pays up, but I expect he’ll do an Oberlin College and do his best to avoid doing so.
I think you are spot on when you say he is unrepentant. Jones is a textbook sociopath, incapable of guilt or sympathy.
I think he’ll be using a tin foil cup.
I’m curious…has anyone here actually listened to Alex Jones’ program? I realize that the readers of WEIT aren’t exactly his target audience, so I would be surprised if anyone here purposely sought him out. I was forcibly subjected to his late night rantings and infomercial hucksterism while working as an overnight bakery assistant in a chain “restaurant” back around 2012 or thereabouts. What I can remember, while trying my best to block it out, was him claiming that Obama was flying planes loaded with illegal immigrants sick with Ebola up from Mexico, and how they were projectile vomiting and having explosive diarrhea all over the plane and they were coming here to infect Americans!!! Stuff like that was interspersed with his ads for stuff like colloidal silver potions and special magic non-fluoride toothpaste. It was the most spectacular load of idiocy I’ve ever heard. I also recall seeing a snippet of him on the other super genius’ program, Joe Rogan. He actually said out loud “I’m probably a little retarded.”*
After listening to him, I’d say he probably played a lot of full-contact football without a helmet and ate lead paint chips during halftime. And yet, he has followers, hard-core fans, people who buy stuff from him, and take his advice…! What a world.
*(apologies to those who hate the R-word, but that’s the quote; he really said that)
It makes religion a bit less surprising, if no less inexplicable.
The people that listen to Jones and accept his nonsense are the same people that believe the “Big Lie” and other conspiracy theories. In less than a month they may very well elect a Republican House of Representatives that will be crazytown on steroids. In the Atlantic, political analyst Norm Ornstein, a pundit I respect deeply, says this about the pending Republican House:
“If Republicans win control of the House of Representatives, the country will face a series of fundamental challenges much greater than we have had in any modern period of divided government, including a direct and palpable threat of default and government shutdown. The Republican majority will be more radical, reckless, and willing to employ nuclear options to achieve its goals than any of its predecessors have been, and its leadership, starting with McCarthy, will be either compliant or too weak to head off catastrophe.”
“We have moved into a new and frightening era in American politics and governance, one when radicals intent on a revolution and craving major disruption will be not just a vocal minority but potentially dominating a governing body. We cannot risk the full consequences of that brutal reality.”
In other words, the damage that Jones and his ilk do is far greater than defaming and lying about the relatives of those murdered at Sandy Hook. He may be complicit in the destruction of American democracy and the establishment of a fascist theocracy. When about half the electorate will vote for fascists or fascist enablers, how can the future be anything but bleak?
Every election has become a do or die for the Republic. If the R’s take either house there will be complete paralysis, likely leading to government shutdowns when they refuse to pass a budget. If they take both houses, then only Biden’s veto will stand in the way of even worse chaos.
And if Trump wins in 2024, then the Republic is doomed.
Let’s not forget that four years into Jones’s insane Sandy Hook conspiracy ranting, during the 2016 Republican primaries, Donald Trump appeared on Jones’s Infowars show, to tell his audience what a great job Jones was doing, and that, after his 2016 election win, one of the first calls Trump made was to Jones to thank him for his support. See here.
Yes, yes I have listened to him. Many years ago and a few times over the years. Your experience was very similar to mine. I could not believe anyone would believe a thing he said, it is so clearly ridiculous. A totally vile man.
He has always been too crazy for me, and none of my friends or relatives do either, as far as I know.
My brother in law lives in the same neighborhood as he does, and has encountered him in shops. Apparently, he did not have his persona turned on then, so did not say or do anything out of the ordinary.
“I also recall seeing a snippet of him on the other super genius’ program, Joe Rogan.”
Comparing Rogan to Jones is extremely unfair. Rogan has all kinds of guests on his program…yes he had Jones on, but he did not feed him softball questions the entire interview. If anything, he made Jones come across as the lunatic that he is.
But more importantly, Rogan has also interviewed many eminent thinkers and scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Steven Pinker, Sean Carroll, and a certain Richard Dawkins. By doing this, he’s exposed his audience to ideas that they would not normally encounter.
Overall, Rogan has done over 2,000 episodes…he’s bound to have a few nuts like Jones in the bunch!
And calling the comparison “extremely unfair” is extremely charitable.
Unfortunately, Mr. Jones is now “broke” and can’t afford to pay. Good luck collecting anything from him.
Couldn’t happen to a nastier man
Not long ago I read Elizabeth Williamson’s excellent book Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth, which focuses primarily on the explosive growth of conspiracy theories. There are conspiracy theories before Sandy Hook — which remained mostly on the fringe — and after Sandy Hook. The growth of social media and mainstreaming of shows hosted by people like Alex Jones moved those fringe beliefs into more and more average homes.
The thing that gets me is the same now as it was back in the 80’s dealing with Satanic Panic and alien abduction scares: how do otherwise normal people come to believe such extraordinary things? As I recall Williamson cites studies which found a common thread between left and right conspiracy mongers: they really, really don’t trust the government.
I have always suspected that people susceptible to such beliefs are just as likely to fall for whichever conspiracy they happen to encounter at the right point of their lives. I really don’t think right/left is really a factor, but that regional differences might affect which group they are more likely to be exposed to.
The person who joins a militia or open carry organization would have joined Antifa if they were in Portland instead of Houston.
In college, I was a TA in a class on conspiracy theories regarding human migration, and encountered a lot of believers. 9/11 truthers or Sandy Hook people are probably not much different from Atlantis folk.
It does require a suspension of ordinary skepticism, and people who believe in one of them are much more likely to fall for others.
I really doubt that any of the regulars here are likely to fall for such things. A little scientific method and logic education are great vaccinations against them.
One of the many things I learned from all the skeptic-related books, magazines, and conventions I imbibed was that a red flag for a tendency to fall for conspiracies or other Weird Things was assuming that a respect for the scientific method and logic made you immune. Sometimes, it can even make us more susceptible.
I’ve tried coming up with a witty phrase to express this, of the form, “It’s good to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.” So far I haven’t come up with anything I like.
“It’s good to be skeptical, but not so skeptical . . . ????”
I don’t think there’s any symmetry at all between Right and Left in this regard, Max. Where is there anyone on the Left like Alex Jones, whose Infowars podcast attracts over 20 million distinct viewers and who sells upwards of $800k per day in snake oil to those viewers?
Where is there anything comparable on the Left to QAnon or Pizzagate or Birtherism or a belief in Jewish space lasers or in Italian satellites altering US votes or in Donald Trump’s baseless claim that he won a landslide victory in the 2020 election stolen from him by massive voting fraud? Over 60% of Republicans continue to believe this Big Lie, and over 60% of Republicans would like to see the US become a Christian Nationalist country. (As Trump-appointed Republican FBI Director Christopher Wray has observed, Antifa is not an organization; it is an ideology.)
I don’t doubt for a second that you have family and friends who, though archconservatives, eschew such crazy conspiracy theories. But by generalizing from them to the US rightwing more broadly, you run head on into the problem of induction.
“…they really, really don’t trust the government.”
I live in blue state Washington and there are a lot of GOP adds running about “an army of IRS workers are coming to knock on your door, take your money, etc.” They actually use the imagery of a hand knocking on a door, coming for you. As if that’s how the IRS operates. As a matter of fact, they only send letters, letters, letters, until, if you do nothing, there will be a knock, but it’s going to be law enforcement, not the IRS. So if there’s a knock, you’ve broken the law. And I thought the GOP was all about law and order? If you’re following the law, why worry about the IRS? Again, it’s the “I don’t trust the government” trope they’re exploiting. Yet they trust the “big” government to make the best decisions for pregnant women by forcing a government-mandated birth. It’s hard to tell what kind of government these anti-government types are actually railing against.
No. If the IRS contacts you it will be by a robocall which gives the number to call back. I’ve avoided imminent penalties and arrest numerous times. Apparently they like to be paid in Walmart gift cards.
Dear Mr. Jones,
Indeed, free speech is a human right. Having a functioning hand is as well. If either one picks my pocket or breaks my leg*, neither the speech nor the hand is to blame – it’s just that you are attached to both, so what are we supposed to do?
*Apologies to Jefferson, T., 1743-1826
He supposedly withdrew 96 million cash recently, and probably deposited it in an offshore account. If all his appeals fail he’ll probably flee the country.
Off-topic, but might be worth discussing: https://www.commonsense.news/p/scheduled-to-die-the-rise-of-canadas/
With wackos like Jones — and Trump — I often have a very difficult time even trying to understand how much of the nonsense that they spew they might actually believe and how much they spew out of ulterior motives. Really don’t know.
With some of them, especially Trump, I tend (sometimes) to think that their personalities (or personality disorders) dictate that essentially they believe whatever they have said.
Conspiracy theorists treat their worldview as obviously correct. From that vantage point, it is irrelevant whether specific claims are true, since they do not change the bigger picture.
It seems blindingly apparent to me that a deep-seated, near-pathological narcissism is the primary driver behind almost everything Trump does or says. In virtually every word and deed, he displays a clearly insurmountable impulse to try to shape his world to a single end: protecting his perilously fragile ego.
So in a sense, I think Trump really does “believe” the the nonsense he vomits on a regular basis. In his reality, he *cannot* be a “loser,” so his deranged brain never, ever lets in any shred of evidence that he is, up to and including “making s**t up” to calm his panic.
I gather that the final Jan 6 hearing before the mid-terms is supposed to start today @ 1pm Eastern.
To give you an illustration, this is Alex Jones being interviewed on the BBC. Watch to the very end when he goes absolutely bonkers and is described by the interiewer as the worst person he’d ever interviewed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch9gQ9JOe3Y&t=29s
Incidentally, the interviewer is Andrew Neil who was initially behind the newish right wing extremist TV channel called GB News but nicknamed KGB News after revelations of Russian funding. He’s no woke person putting Jones down. Apparently as soon as the cameras stopped rolling Alex Jones became absolutely calm. It is an act done just to make money.
Jones is a grotesque pig of a man who indeed knows what he’s saying is untrue, but realizes there is money to be made from those lies.
It’s almost as if he looked at the IQ distribution of the US, realized that there are tens of millions of people with scores around 80-89 (“low average”), and asked himself “gee, I wonder how I monetize that…”
I think you’re right on the money there! Where he hasn’t been smart is to attack private individuals who can sue about his lies. If he had just created conspiracy theories about government and covid etc. he would have been more likely to get away with it. If he’s at all smart he will have hidden money somewhere abroad where it is difficult to trace, as was suggested further up these comments and leave the USA.
I’ve only seen a few snippets of Jones (I had a hospice patient who insisted on having him on sometimes … ugh). But his demeanor and behavior during those few minutes appeared absolutely unhinged to me. He wept, pounding his fists like an infant, face red, in a seeming effort to convey his deep “sincerity.”
I could not imagine why anyone would want to see such a histrionic performance. To me, his schtick was self-evidently loony and the words tumbling from his facial cloaca not to be trusted, ever.
Disturbingly, there are plenty others like Alex Jones.
There are Twitter-verified “journalists”, such as Max Blumenthal, Jimmy Dore, Ben Norton, et al, who are all on record as stating Assad’s chemical weapon attacks were “staged.” These same goons also spread war crime denying conspiracy theories involving Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine.
Twitter has not banned any of them yet…
What do you think Twitter’s verification process is about?
It’s only purpose is to ascertain if Twitter account @PubliclyProminentPerson is controlled by that Publicly Prominent Person (or their manager, PR agent, lawyer or some other approved person). If, to pick an aged Internet Kook at somewhat random, Archimedes Plutonium, were to start a Twitter campaign promoting the “plasma universe” (I think that was one of his bits of kookery) which garnered enough attention to merit his Twitter account being “verified”, that would not suggest that Twitter Inc actually thought that the universe was a giant Pu atom, merely that the account purporting to be Archimedes, is actually controlled by that person.
The system was introduced in response to “spoof” and “parody” accounts of PPPs, not to impose any sort of external reality onto the account holders. You might want Twitter verification to mean something other than that, but that’s your desire, not reality.
That was the original intent, but it has been politicized. People who are “far right” (Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler, …) or otherwise “bad people” (like Julian Assange) or who have engaged in “hate speech” have their verification revoked or denied.
Or at least sometimes they do. Like much that happens on social media, the decisions of the censors are not consistent.