Alex Jones is “done saying I’m sorry” for spreading the hoax that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting never happened, he said during an angry outburst on the stand. It was the first time Jones appeared in person at his latest defamation trial on Thursday.
The Infowars host and far-right conspiracy theorist gave testimony in a Connecticut defamation trial that is being held about 32 kilometres away from Newtown, the site of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre that claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators.
After being sued for defamation, Jones finally acknowledged in 2019 that the Sandy Hook shooting was real and that the distraught parents of children who died that day were not crisis actors. But on Thursday, he angrily refused to keep apologizing for the lies he spread.
In Connecticut, Jones is being sued for damages by the families of eight Sandy Hook victims and an FBI agent who responded to the attack. They testified earlier in the trial that they received death threats, abusive messages on social media and in-person harassment from Jones’ followers who believed the conspiracy theory. Some were even forced to move to escape the abuse.
Plaintiff lawyer Christopher Mattei accused Jones of putting targets on the parents’ backs, pointing to the family members in the courtroom and saying “these are real people.”
“Just like all the Iraqis you liberals killed and love,” Jones responded. “Just, you’re unbelievable. You switch on emotions, on-and-off when you want. You’re just ambulance chasing.”
“Why don’t you show a little respect?” Mattei shot back, as Jones’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, shouted objections and several family members shook their heads in apparent disbelief.
The exchange went on with Mattei pointing out that the families in the courtroom had “lost children, sisters, wives, moms.”
“Is this a struggle session?” Jones said. “Are we in China? I’ve already said I’m sorry hundreds of times and I’m done saying I’m sorry.”
After excusing the jury for the day, Judge Barbara Bellis admonished both sides, saying further outbursts would lead to a contempt hearing.
Jones was found liable last year by default for damages to plaintiffs without a trial, for what the judge called his repeated failures to turn over documents to their lawyers. The six-member jury is now deciding how much Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Jones’ Infowars media platforms, should pay the families for defaming them and intentionally inflicting emotional distress.
Jones has already been found liable by default in two similar lawsuits over the Sandy Hook lies in his hometown of Austin, Texas, where a jury in one of the trials ordered Jones last month to pay nearly US$50 million in damages to the parents of one of the children killed. A third trial in Texas is expected to begin near the end of the year.
During Thursday’s proceedings, Jones was compelled through questioning to acknowledge that he called Judge Bellis a “tyrant” on his show and there is a page on his Infowars site that called the trial a “kangaroo court” that included a graphic of Bellis with lasers shooting out of her eye. He said the page was created by his staff, but called it a “good report.”
Jones was asked about advertisements on that page and other Sandy Hook content, as well as daily profit reports. Jones said he could not answer those questions, but denied he saw the trial as a marketing opportunity.
Later, when asked about his fundraising and items offered in his internet store, he made sure to give out the URL where people could buy cryptocurrency to support his company.
“That will end up as a clip on your show tonight,” Mattei said. “You’re advertising for your cryptocurrency page?”
“I mean people want to keep us in the fight, so I mean I hope whoever the big whales are that would give us money before keep doing it,” Jones said.
During a discussion about Infowars’ financials, Jones noted that his team is “fighting the deep state, we need money.”
Jones, who returned to the stand Friday, made brief comments to reporters while leaving the courthouse.
“The First Amendment will prevail,” he said. “The American people will never be silenced.”
Jones’ lawyer argued in court that any damages he should pay should be limited, saying that the plaintiffs have exaggerated the harm that Jones’ lies caused them.
— With files from The Associated Press
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