Alex Jones briefly appeared on the stand on Thursday in Connecticut, where he gave flailing, messy, largely unhelpful testimony in the defamation case against him brought by a group of Sandy Hook families. In one exchange, plaintiffs’ attorney Chris Mattei asked about Jones encouraging his audience to donate cryptocurrency to him; Jones leaned forward and enunciated the crypto donation website into the microphone.
“Is that a little advertisement there?” Mattei said, incredulously.
“We’re fighting the Deep State, we need money,” Jones responded.
“That’ll end up as a clip for you on your show tonight, won’t it?” Mattei replied.
That is, of course, exactly what happened: that testimony has appeared repeatedly on Infowars in the past 24 hours, with the crypto website address as a graphic overlaid atop it. (In the portion of his testimony where Jones encouraged the “big whales” to keep giving him large donations, Infowars also added in some whale sounds.)
Videos of Jones’ testimony—especially the parts that registered as the most bizarre, shocking, or meltdown-y in context—are playing on a loop on Infowars, endlessly repurposed into their broadcast. At one point Thursday night, Infowars host and Jones imitator Owen Shroyer just played Jones’ testimony, cutting in occasionally with what were meant to be clever asides from the world’s most fawning hype man.
Jones has seized on the chance to make video content out of the trial, but really, it’s more elemental than a matter of taking advantage of publicity to hawk his wares or draw attention to himself: He’s seemingly using his participation in court solely to generate material depicting an alternate reality where he’s the victim of outrageous persecution. On Thursday, he came to life during his testimony when he saw an opening and otherwise slumped over: bored, minimally responsive, and unable to remember much of anything. On Friday morning, his attorney, Norm Pattis, announced that Jones would not retake the stand to be questioned by Pattis but would instead be flying back to Texas. (Pattis expressed the probably-doomed hope that the move would “lower the temperature” in court.)
Jones left the courthouse and immediately held a press conference outside, where, animated once again, beaming in a tight ring of TV cameras, he yelled that he was the victim of a “show trial,” that it was “already rigged,” and baselessly claimed that Mattei’s family were a mafia-like entity controlling Connecticut. He also—and this is where reality and irreality connect—suggested the jurors should research the case for themselves, something that’s completely against the rules and could quite possibly trigger a mistrial.
This generated a flurry of activity inside the courtroom, none of which Jones was present for; after a discussion with both sets of attorneys, Judge Barbara Bellis had to remind the jury not to do their own research into the case and sent them home for the day. Meanwhile, against a backdrop of bushes seemingly somewhere near the courthouse, Jones jubilantly announced he’d be returning to Austin for an “emergency broadcast” this weekend. (He then repaired to a luxuriant-looking field somewhere to fulminate, at length, about the “ethnic cleansing of Russians” in Russia’s war against Ukraine.)
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An endless number of articles and video clips about the trial now populate Infowars: “Sandy Hook Lawyer Attempts To Force Alex Jones To Undergo Communist Struggle Session,” one reads, with the dek, “Weaponized judicial system being used to eviscerate First Amendment and shut down Infowars, but Alex Jones won't go down without a fight!” Everything links to the Infowars store, to the crypto donation page, or to some entity that will ultimately make Alex Jones money; more fundamentally than that, it presents a reality different from the one everyone else can observe.
Jones is a creature of the internet, and he understands, perhaps better than the attorneys do, how his clips will be viewed in their natural environment. It hardly matters how sweaty, red, peevish and ill-prepared he seems in court, as long as a minute-long segment can be fashioned into something flattering and commercially viable. At the worst (for him), the performance will sow some minor doubts among some viewers about the basic integrity of the proceedings; at best those who already think him a martyr will become more passionate in their beliefs, and some of those who don’t will be swayed.
The basic issue before the court is less the amount of damages he’ll owe than whether it’s even possible to hold him accountable, or if he’ll just continue the work he’s been at all along—of making our world more like his. In the meantime, the court proceedings, for him, are just B-roll, and everyone—the attorneys, the Sandy Hook plaintiffs who have already gone through so much, the obliging press asking him questions while he yells into the wind—is playing their helpful part.