Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones built his reputation, and his fortune by spreading conspiracy theories about everything from the moon landing to the efficacy of his own brand of “brain pills,” to the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, perhaps the most abhorrent theory he’s propagated with his Infowars network will have real legal and financial consequences.
A Connecticut stage judge issued a default judgment against Jones on Monday in a lawsuit brought in 2018 by family members of the victims of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Jones has said for years that the shooting was a “false flag” plot by the government to enact gun control laws that, he and his followers believed, were part of a tyrannical power grab. Essential to that theory is the belief that the deaths of 20 first-graders and six faculty members didn’t happen, and that the grieving family members of the victims were “actors” complicit in the scheme.
On his Monday show, Alex Jones said of the situation: “We need to defend all of our speech rights to say whatever it is we wish. That’s the First Amendment.”
Jones’ followers harassed the family of Sandy Hook victims online and in real life, including at memorial events, forcing many to move multiple times while living in fear. The families of eight of the victims and an FBI agent who responded to the shooting filed a lawsuit claiming that Jones profited from the lies, which he has denied. The judge in the case ordered Jones to provide a bevy of relevant documents including data showing how his claims about the shooting impacted traffic to his Infowars website and financial records that would reveal details about his opaque business.
Jones’s legal team’s efforts in the case included an effort to depose Hillary Clinton, releasing details from a sealed deposition in a public filing, and a motion for the judge in the case to recuse herself.
The Connecticut decision comes just over a month after Jones lost two similar defamation suits in Texas, where his operation is based, filed by two other victims’ families after, similarly, he refused to provide information as ordered by the court.
A lawyer for the Connecticut plaintiffs responded that Jones had “every opportunity” to prove that his conduct was protected by the First Amendment but that instead he “deliberately chose to prevent us from collecting evidence that would prove how his business works and why he engaged in this extended campaign against the families, and the relationship between that and his profitability.”
Though Jones has not commented directly on the Connecticut lawsuit loss, Jones’s lawyers have promised to appeal both decisions.
Both of the judges’ rulings have essentially the same effect as a jury finding for the plaintiffs in each case, and it is now up to juries in each state to determine what damages to award.