Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been ordered to pay nearly $1 billion for claiming the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax.
Jones is notorious for claiming the attack was one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, staged by gun control activists using actors – although he later admitted it was true.
But just who is Alex Jones and why is he notorious? Sky News looks at some of the right-wing’s most controversial statements.
Who is Alex Jones?
Alex Jones, 48, is a right-wing conservative figure from Austin, Texas.
After graduating from high school in 1993, he started working on cable television, filling in for absent hosts and becoming known for his conspiracy theories.
When a bomb went off in the Oklahoma City terror attack in 1995, Jones claimed the government was behind it.
“I know there’s a kleptocracy working with a psychopathic government – an evil force that knows the art of control,” he said.
What is information warfare?
In 1999, he co-founded a website called InfoWars, which became a popular online destination for fake news and conspiracy theories, with a reported 10 million monthly visits in 2017.
A quick look at the site – which includes the tagline “Your mind is at war!” – shows crazy talk about COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine.
Earlier this year, InfoWars’ parent Free Speech Systems LLC filed for bankruptcy as Jones faced a lawsuit brought by the Sandy Hook family.
The move – described by lawyers representing the family as “postponing the inevitable” – puts the civil lawsuit on hold as the company restructures its finances.
What happened to Sandy Hook Elementary School?
On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 students and 6 teachers in Newtown, Connecticut.
The tragedy has led to another mass shooting in the U.S. with grief, but despite the loss of life, it is extremely rare for the U.S. Congress to cooperate and pass gun control legislation.
The Sandy Hook massacre was one of the deadliest school shootings in American history.
What did Alex Jones say to Sandy Hook?
Jones admitted to calling Sandy Hook’s parents “crisis actors” on his show and called the shoot “fake, like a three-dollar bill.”
His show portrayed the Sandy Hook shooting as part of the gun control effort.
He also said: “You make the parents laugh – ‘hahaha’ – and then they go to the camera and ‘shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh’ not just one but a bunch of parents doing it and then the pictures of the kids are alive they say dead?
“I mean, they think we’re too stupid.”
Courts in Texas and Connecticut have so far held Jones liable for defamation by describing the Sandy Hook shooting as a hoax.
His most recent appearance was before a jury in a Connecticut trial as they decide how much he should pay.
At one of his trials, the victims’ families gave emotional testimony, describing how they endured death threats, face-to-face harassment and abusive comments on social media. Some move away to avoid abuse.
Earlier this year, a Texas jury ordered Jones to pay $4.1 million (£3.3 million) in damages to the parents of a six-year-old boy killed in Sandy Hook.
What is the legal problem with Alex Jones?
In addition to being sued by the parents of Sandy Hook victims, Jones also has a rather tortuous history when it comes to the legal issues of what he says.
In 2017, he apologized after promoting a false “Pizzagate” story that claimed a Washington pizza restaurant was owned by Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, according to the Washington Post. Home to an operating child sex abuse ring.
In 2018, he was sued for the car attack that killed anti-racism protester Heather Heyer at the infamous Unity Right rally in Charlottesville.
He is accused of claiming the attack was actually carried out by the CIA to undermine President Donald Trump.