Radio show host Alex Jones has made a career out of peddling conspiracy theories. On Infowars, the right-wing digital media outlet Jones founded, he’s claimed that Muslims cheered the Sept. 11 attacks; that the government has “weather weapons” responsible for floods and tornadoes; and that thousands of illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election. Among the most hurtful of his conspiracy theories, however, was his assertion that the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six teachers were murdered, never happened.
On Monday, a Texas judge fined Jones and Infowars just over $100,000 for seven years of promoting the idea that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax. The lawsuit was brought by Neil Heslin, whose six-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, was killed in the shooting.
As The New York Times reported earlier this month, “Mr. Jones cast doubt on Mr. Heslin’s account of holding his son after his death, playing a video in which an Infowars contributor, Owen Shroyer, says of Mr. Heslin, “He’s claiming that he held his son and saw the bullet hole in his head. That is not possible.”
Now, a judge is forcing Jones to pay for his lies. Per The Daily Beast:
On Dec. 20, Travis County Judge Scott Jenkins granted a motion for sanctions and legal expenses against Jones and InfoWars, ordering them to pay $65,825 for ignoring a court order about providing documents and witnesses. In another ruling issued that same day in Heslin’s case, Jenkins denied an InfoWars motion to dismiss the case and ordered Jones and InfoWars to pay an additional $34,323.80, for a combined total of $100,148.80 levied against Jones and InfoWars in a single day.
Added to an earlier October order against InfoWars, Jones and his outlet have been ordered to pay $126,023.80 over the case, even before it reaches trial.
Mark Bankston, one of Heslin’s attorneys, said in an email to The Daily Beast: “It’s hardly a surprise that someone like Alex Jones would soon find himself in contempt of court, but now he is learning there are severe consequences to his utter disrespect for this process.”
Infowars remains unrepentant about its actions. “I think our reporting stopped what was going to be a lot of anti-gun legislation that was coming down,” Infowars News Director Rob Dew said in a deposition obtained by BuzzFeed News in December. He added, “I am proud of that.”
According to BuzzFeed, “Dew claimed he did not remember how he and Jones obtained evidence used to support narratives in videos like ‘Sandy Hook was a DHS Illusion’ and ‘Sandy Hook Vampires Exposed,’ and said he was proud of Infowars’ coverage and never meant to “hurt families.”
Jones and Infowars did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment. Jones is still facing pending lawsuits from other Sandy Hook families, including a case in Connecticut where Jones is accused of interfering in the discovery process.Print