After Infowars host Alex Jones was ordered to pay nearly $1 billion in damages to the families of Sandy Hook victims, right-wing media rushed to defend him and his conspiracy theories.
Jones repeatedly called the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting a manufactured event. Even after he was sued, Jones has pushed further conspiracy theories about the families of the victims and continued to claim the tragedy was a “synthetic" event. As the lawsuits ramped up, he said they were part of a globalist plot to assassinate him; during the trial, he broadcast attacks on the victims’ families and the judge.
The victims’ families testified against Jones at trial, recounting the constant harassment they faced as a result of the lies and conspiracy theories spread by Infowars, including an incident where a man accosted the sister of victim Victoria Soto at an event that commemorated the late Sandy Hook teacher. Now Jones has been found liable for this harassment and defamation and will have to pay nearly $1 billion.
Despite all his past actions and the legal ramifications, Jones still has allies in right-wing media who came to his defense. Many took to lamenting the damages decision on Wednesday by dismissing or deflecting from Jones’ actions and declaring that the verdict was emblematic of an assault on free speech.
Downplaying and distracting from Jones’ actions
- Conspiracy theorist and Infowars host Mike Cernovich said Jones had “killed no one” and had “apologized for his erroneous reports, of which there weren’t many,” before adding that “Stalin’s ghost has returned.”
- Cernovich also compared Jones’ actions to media coverage of the deadly August 2021 drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, which “was then revealed to be a huge lie coordinated between the Pentagon and regime media. No one who hates Alex Jones even cared.”
- Neo-Nazi collaborator Jack Posobiec claimed on Twitter that MSNBC host Rachel Maddow faced a similar lawsuit from right-wing outlet One America News in 2019, but it was dismissed because “courts ruled she was obviously an opinion show and she couldn't be held liable for what she said on air, even if exaggerated.” Posobiec suggested that the different verdict for Jones was “not hypocrisy, it's hierarchy.”
- Right-wing commentator Logan Hall similarly claimed that conspiracy theories “from the right” result in monetary damages, but “conspiracies from the left” result in “a cushy gig at MSNBC.”
- Infowars host Owen Shroyer asked his audience, “If Alex Jones has to pay a billion dollars for inaccurate coverage of the Sandy Hook massacre, how much then should Pfizer and Moderna and all the news networks and celebrities that promoted the COVID-19 vaccine pay for their information which was wrong?” Shroyer went on to falsely claim the COVID-19 vaccine has killed “tens of thousands” of people.
- Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk said Jones “owes a billion dollars for saying mean things on his show” before questioning “how much should the propagandists at CNN, MSNBC, WaPo, and The New York Times pay” for promoting COVID-19 vaccination.
- In response to the news of Jones’ defamation verdict, far-right Scottish YouTuber Mark Meechan, known online as Count Dankula, tweeted: “For comparison, Union Carbide only had to pay half of this amount for causing an environmental disaster that killed over 15,000 people.”
- Conservative YouTuber Blaire White claimed on Twitter she would "be a lot more understanding of why Alex Jones needs to pay a billion dollars for false reporting if I didn’t watch the corporate media do the same thing every day with zero consequences.”
Claiming the verdict against Jones is an attack on free speech
- Newsmax host Benny Johnson claimed that the verdict isn’t about Jones or his yearslong misinformation campaign, it’s about “deplatforming” and “silencing political enemies,” adding, “The regime is setting a precedent that if you speak out, they will come after you & try to destroy you.”
- Infowars host Owen Shroyer asked, “If you can silence one man, is free speech still alive at all” in response to his guest, YouTuber Nick Rekieta, claiming “it sometimes feels like freedom of speech is dead.”
- Charlie Kirk tweeted:
- Jack Posobiec called the verdict against Jones an “obvious attack on freedom of speech” in a tweet.
- Conspiracy theorist and former Trump staffer Darren Beattie posted a warning on Twitter to “never ever question the regimes official story or we’ll fine you a billion dollars,” before stoking fears that the government will “kill you” if “you have video proof.”
- Right-wing radio host Jesse Kelly warned on Twitter that media figures celebrating the verdict “are too stupid to understand how this precedent will end up on their doorstep one day.”