Alex Jones took the stand on Thursday in the second defamation trial against him and Infowars. His testimony helped no one, least of all himself; as the day wore on, he accused the lawyer questioning him of “ambulance chasing,” and said “liberals” like him were responsible for “killing Iraqis,” comments that probably made sense to his audience but not to the jury. He also managed to get in a plug for “challenge coins” he’s selling on the site, and publicly asked whoever has been anonymously sending him large crypto donations to keep doing it.
“Conservatives know all about silver and gold,” he told plaintiffs’ attorney Chris Mattei, cheerfully, during an otherwise argumentative day. Moments later, he spelled out the website where his audience can send crypto donations to him. Mattei asked incredulously if he was doing an ad; Jones responded, "We're fighting the Deep State, we need to make money.” He then said he hoped the “big whales” sending large crypto donations keep doing it. (This is, for those keeping track, the second trial in which he’s managed to shill his products from the stand; he added product placement to his testimony in the last defamation trial against him in Texas, too.)
Jones and Infowars called Sandy Hook a “hoax” for years, beginning hours after the shooting, a position Jones has insisted he no longer holds. This second trial is taking place in Connecticut, where Jones and the company were sued by a group of Sandy Hook families who lost loved ones in the attack, as well as an FBI agent, William Aldenberg, who responded to the scene. Jones and Infowars lost all the Sandy Hook cases brought in both Connecticut and Texas by default, after judges in both states ruled that the company failed to respond meaningfully to discovery and didn’t turn over necessary documents to the other side. As with the first trial, in Texas, where a jury ultimately awarded the plaintiffs $49.3 million, this second trial is solely to determine damages.
Thus far, several plaintiffs have testified: Erica Lafferty and Carlee Soto Parisi, whose mother and sister, respectively, a Sandy Hook principal and teacher, died in the attack, as well as David Wheeler and Jennifer Hensel, both of whom had children who died. The survivor testimony stood in stark contrast to Jones’ performance on the stand; through tears, each person lovingly recounted the person they lost, and the hell they underwent when conspiracy theorists began targeting their families.
After the murder of his son Ben, David Wheeler testified on Wednesday, "I felt like I was underwater. I didn't know which way was up." And in the midst of that, he added, "to have someone publicly telling the world that it didn't happen, that you're a fraud and a phony, is incredibly disorienting."
The case has also been sidetracked by an endless series of arguments about what can and cannot be mentioned in court. During Jones’ testimony, both sides struggled to get around the long list of things they’ve agreed not to mention in front of the jury, including Hillary Clinton, the 2016 presidential elections, the previous lawsuits against Jones, and the previous lawsuits won by the plaintiffs against other parties. Jones also isn’t allowed to claim he didn’t profit from the Sandy Hook coverage or that he didn’t spend that much time on it over the years, both claims he’s made repeatedly outside the courtroom. Jones and Mattei tussled over whether he ever called the Sandy Hook parents suing him actors (he did) or imitated them faking their tears (he definitely did).
Infowars has tried to monetize the trial, even setting up a separate page, titled “Kangaroo Court,” to cover it, which Jones insisted in his testimony he had nothing to do with. On air, Jones has also called Judge Barbara Bellis a “tyrant,” said the court is a “puppet court,” and claimed he’s being “forced” to perjure himself after Judge Bellis instructed his lawyer, Norm Pattis, that Jones can’t use his testimony to grandstand about his First Amendment rights being violated, can’t claim that the default ruling is invalid, and can’t mention other settlements some of these plaintiffs have won. (Specifically, some of these plaintiffs were involved in a landmark ruling against Remington Arms, the gun manufacturer which made the AR-15 that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza used to murder his victims.)
Jones’ testimony thus came in fits and starts, as he frequently claimed he couldn’t recall things he did on air or testified to in previous depositions. (This came, ironically, after he told attorney Mattei, “I have a pretty good memory,” claiming he’d never mentioned one of the plaintiffs, Aldenberg, on air; Mattei then showed a segment that Infowars ran about Aldenberg.)
As the day wore on, Jones, Mattei and Pattis all began increasingly yelling at and interrupting each other, with Jones interjecting bizarre asides about things like mind control and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski that would have, again, made zero sense to anyone not deeply immersed in the Infowars cinematic universe.
Jones eventually declared that he’s “done” apologizing for saying Sandy Hook was staged. “Is this a struggle session?” he demanded. “Are we in China?” He added that he’s “apologized hundreds of times” in the past, adding, "I legitimately thought it might have been staged. I stand by that, and I don't apologize for it."
It was, on the whole, a messy and unilluminating day in court for a messy and unilluminating man; earlier in the day, Jones also managed to imply that the Deep State is secretly behind the lawsuit. When asked about Aldenberg, the FBI agent plaintiff, Jones said “the FBI” was suing him.
“Is it your testimony that the FBI is suing you?” Mattei asked, exasperated.
“I think this is a Deep State situation, yeah,” Jones responded before allowing, a minute later, that the FBI is not “officially” suing him. (They’re not doing it unofficially either.)
Jones’ testimony will, somehow, continue when court resumes on Friday.
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