In addition to the $4.1 million in compensatory damages granted to the plaintiffs on Thursday, a Texas jury found that well-known American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a six-year-old child who died during the Sandy Hook massacre.
This was the first time in court that Jones has been monetarily punished for repeatedly misinforming his audience about the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Jones has started to assert that one of the deadliest school shootings in American history was a fabrication not long after 26 people died in 2012, 20 of them young children.
The First Amendment of the US constitution guarantees free expression, which Alex Jones had depicted as being violated by the lawsuit brought against him.
The hearings, in his words, were “a Constitution-destroying, absolute, entire and full charade.” According to the parents who successfully sued him, his words were so vile that they went beyond the boundaries of free speech as guaranteed by the constitution.
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Early Life and Influences
Jones was reared in the Rockwall area after being born in Dallas, Texas, on February 11th, 1974. His mother was a housewife, and his father worked as a dentist. He claims ancestry from the Comanche, Welsh, English, and Irish. Jones’ family relocated to Austin during his second year of high school.
He played football while a student at Anderson High School, where he also earned his diploma in 1993. Jones attended Austin Community College for a short time after graduation before leaving.
In Gary Allen’s book, None Dare Call It Conspiracy, a John Birch Society conspiracy theorist, Allen claimed that foreign bankers, not elected officials, were in charge of American politics. Jones called Allen’s book “the easiest-to-read primer on The New World Order,” and it had a significant impact on him.
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Who is Alex Jones?
The 48-year-old conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been propagating untruths on his well-known website, Infowars, for more than 20 years. He is arguably the biggest and most influential conspiracy theorist in America. Additionally, he airs “The Alex Jones Show” on more than 100 radio stations, reaching millions of listeners.
He sells unsubstantiated claims in his distinctive shouty delivery style, accompanied by growls, rants, and the odd punching of the table and ripping off of his shirt.
Strange conspiracy theories were being promoted by Alex Jones. One such hypothesis contends that the US government has been successful in “turning the frickin frogs gay” and is putting chemicals in the water supply to make people homosexual.
He claimed that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were sulfur-smelling demons from hell rather than actual people. The popular “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, which claims that a pizzeria in Washington, DC, is a front for a child sex trafficking network involving Hillary and Bill Clinton, has also been helped by Jones.
Two-thirds of Jones’s income, according to a 2017 article in the German news outlet Der Spiegel, comes from the sale of goods that are frequently referenced in his programs, such as toothpaste, “brain pills,” bulletproof vests, and potency pills.
As a result, he has become extremely wealthy thanks to his shows and product line. According to testimony given in court on August 5 by a forensic economist, Jones and his company companies have a total net worth of between $135 million and $270 million.
What was the Sandy Hook killing?
On December 14, 2016, a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut resulted in the deaths of 26 people. The attacker killed 20 children between the ages of six and seven as well as six adult staff members between 9:35 and 9:40 before turning the gun on himself and killing himself.
Adam Lanzer, the shooter, started the massacre at his house by firing a.22-caliber rifle four times at his mother. Then he took her automobile to the primary school, where there were more than 400 youngsters ranging in age from kindergarteners to class four.
One 0.22 AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, two semi-automatic handguns, a shotgun, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition made up Lanzer’s arsenal of four legal firearms, all of which were acquired by his mother. The shooter’s primary weapon, according to investigators, was an AR-15.
The sheer scope of the carnage and the fact that most of the fatalities were young children reignited the long-running American debate on gun regulation, with proponents calling for the outlawing of specific types of semi-automatic rifles.
What did Alex Jones do?
Unlike misinformation, which is just incorrect information that is shared without the desire to do so, disinformation campaigns are conscious attempts to propagate misleading information. A lot of false material started to surface very shortly after the tragedy, and Alex Jones emerged as a key player in its dissemination.
Alex Jones propagated a hoax that the murders never even happened. On his program for years, he has maintained that the Sandy Hook school tragedy was a “massive hoax” and “false flag” launched by the US government in order to deny the American people access to firearms. Additionally, he asserted that no one perished at the incident and charged the parents with acting as “crisis actors” in order to influence public opinion.
Alex Jones, however, stated that after meeting the parents of the victims, he now believes the massacre was “100% real” during his evidence on Wednesday, August 3, in the defamation action.
The parents of a six-year-old victim named Jesse Lewis, Neil Heslin, and Scarlett Lewis, testified to the jury that they endured years of harassment and threats to their lives from those who believed Jones’ conspiracy theories as presented on Infowars.
Heslin testified in court on Tuesday that “I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years, the living hell that I and others have had to endure, due to the recklessness and negligence of Alex Jones”.
On his broadcast program earlier that day, Jones continued his typical tirade and informed his audience that Heslin was “slow” and was being controlled by evil, evil people, according to the Associated Press.
Who brought the case against Alex Jones?
Ten families of Sandy Hook victims filed four separate lawsuits against Jones in 2018 alleging that he had defamed them. According to the New York Times, Jones was found liable by default in each case because he disregarded court orders to produce his financial records and other documents over the years and did not do so.
Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis brought the case; Jones had previously been held responsible in September of last year; to a Texas court, where it was determined this week. Their goal was to determine the number of damages Jones was required to pay them for his lies.
Although the total $49.3 million fell short of the $150 million the parents requested, it nevertheless represented a big victory for them and probably gives other families who have similar defamation claims against Jones set for September some optimism.
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Alex Jones and his ex-wife Kelly Jones have three kids together. In March 2015, the couple filed for divorce. Due to her ex-actions, her husband Kelly requested sole or shared custody of their children in 2017. She stated, “I’m concerned that he is engaged in felonious behavior, threatening a member of Congress,” and that “he’s not a stable person” (Adam Schiff). In response, his lawyer said that “he’s playing a character” and referred to the defendant as a “performance artist”.
Alex Jones stated in court that while he generally agreed with his attorney’s assertion, he disagreed with the media’s understanding of the phrase “performance artist” and that his show was “the most bona fide, hard-core, real McCoy thing there is, and everybody knows it” on his show.
While he still has visiting privileges, Kelly has been given the authority to pick where their children will reside. Following Jones’ protest at the Capitol, where he was surrounded by fans and referred to COVID-19 as a hoax, in which he was mobbed, a state district court in April 2020 dismissed Kelly’s emergency plea to secure custody of their girls for the following two weeks.
Rex Jones, his son, has performed work for InfoWars. Alex Jones and Erika Wulff Jones had a kid together in 2017.
Alex Jones Net Worth and Salary
With a $40 million fortune, conspiracy theorist and far-right political fanatic Alex Jones is an American. At his defamation trial in August 2022, Jones asserted that his net worth was no more than $5 million. A financial forensic expert at the same trial determined that Jones and his businesses were worth between $135 million and $270 million.
It was established throughout this trial that Jones’ principal business, Infowars, generated $53.2 million in gross income on average between 2015 and 2022.
Earnings and Income
Jones has probably made tens of millions of dollars throughout his tenure running Infowars, possibly even up to $100 million. Infowars is run by a company called Free Speech Systems, LLC. Jones’ holding company paid out $62 million in “member draws” in 2021 and 2022, according to the bankruptcy petition for Free Speech System filed in July 2022.
Alex Jones was allegedly the only member of the LLC, according to the same form. In other words, it’s reasonable to assume that Jones personally received the $62 million in drawings. He would probably need to set aside about half of his net income for taxes, leaving him with about $30 million.
Other court documents state that Alex received $18 million in dividends and other income from Free Speech Systems LLC between 2018 and 2021 alone. According to a different court document, Jones’ conglomerate of businesses earned $76 million in gross revenue in 2019, a large portion of which came from merchandise sales.
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Jones’s entire text history was accidentally released by his lawyers, which is how we found out that Infowars made $800,000 in one DAY at the 2018 CPAC conference.
According to different court documents, Alex has recently incurred legal costs totaling $15 million. Alex has stated during those legal procedures that a $2.5 million verdict would financially ruin him, meaning that he only had a net worth of around $2 million, which is inconsistent with his earnings history.