A civil jury in Connecticut has ruled that Alex Jones and his company Infowars should pay a total of $965 million to the families of several children killed at Sandy Hook, as well as an FBI agent who responded to the scene of the attack, for defaming them on-air. This amount combines the damages awarded for defamation, slander, and emotional distress that the jury ruled Jones and Infowars caused against each of the 15 plaintiffs.
This is the second large judgment that Jones has recently been ordered to pay to Sandy Hook families; in August, a Texas jury ruled that he and Infowars should pay a combined total of $49.3 million in punitive and compensatory damages to Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse also died in the attack.
Jones spent years calling the Sandy Hook killings a “total hoax,” a position he has insisted he no longer holds. But as recently as last week, Jones referred to Sandy Hook on air as “synthetic,” and has repeatedly said that the trial is “rigged.” (His comments about the event being “synthetic” were first unearthed by Knowledge Fight, a podcast that has made a microscopic study of Jones’ whole deal.)
Jones and Infowars lost a series of civil lawsuits by default in both Texas and Connecticut after judges in both states ruled that the company failed to meaningfully respond to discovery. Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis, attempted to make much of the fact that the plaintiffs didn’t have information and documents they were entitled to and that his side simply refused to give them, to little avail.
In the Connecticut trial, the Sandy Hook families spent hours on the stand describing their loved ones, often in tears, and the continued hell that was wrought on them when the conspiracy theories about their deaths began. One family, for example, described their daughter discovering a letter that had been sent in which a hoaxer described desecrating her brother’s grave, and one parent described being told her child had never existed at a conference for mothers who’d lost their children to gun violence.
The families’ attorneys, using internal Infowars data and testimony from employees, convincingly drew a direct line between Jones’ lies and his profit, demonstrating his audience spiked when he talked about Sandy Hook and that these spikes directly correlated to increases in the sales of various products that are Infowars’ real business.
Pattis, Jones’ attorney, argued throughout the trial that the families were exaggerating the extent of their injury for political gain, claiming that several of them had become vocal anti-gun activists. His broader argument that the suit was an attack on free speech, while consonant with Jones’ attempts to brand himself a martyr targeted by shadowy global elites intent on enslaving humanity, evidently did not find much purchase with the jury.
On Infowars, Jones immediately began ranting about the verdict the moment it was read, calling it a “joke” and saying it was meant to “scare people” out of discussing other mass casualty events like the Parkland and Uvalde shootings. He promised to “keep them in court for years” on appeals before cutting to a commercial break.