The day of reckoning for Alex Jones and his long-running conspiracy-theory con drew closer this week as the jury in the defamation lawsuit filed by the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary victims began the process of determining just how much Jones owes those parents for smearing them and their late children. Jones, who was earlier convicted by default in the case, stands to lose multiple millions.
Birds of a feather grift together, so naturally Glenn Greenwald has come to Jones’ rescue by spearheading a public-relations campaign to repair Jones’ reputation, such as it is. But all Greenwald has done in the process is to utterly pulverize his own long-tattered journalistic credibility into utter oblivion. Jones’ fate remains up to the jury.
The court in Travis County, Texas—where Jones and his Infowars operations are based, and where a number of Sandy Hook parents filed their lawsuits—finished up the jury selection process Monday and began hearing arguments on Tuesday. Jones’ attorneys have good reason to fear awards that could put him out of business, even though Infowars is a $50 million-a-year operation. As The New York Times explains, however:
The Sandy Hook families have a broader goal beyond damages for Mr. Jones: They want the trials to alert Americans to the mounting damage done to vulnerable people and civic life by viral political lies, whether bogus theories denying mass shootings or false claims of a “stolen” 2020 election that brought violence to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Indeed, Jones played a key role in fomenting that insurrection as a central source for claims that the 2020 election had been stolen, as well as myriad other utterly false conspiracy theories with toxic consequences. Jones has a long history of declaring any mass casualty event—from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing to the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the 2017 Las Vegas massacre to the Jan. 6 insurrection—“false flags” masterminded by nefarious “globalists” with the intention of taking Americans’ freedoms away.
He did so in the Sandy Hook case—the horrific Dec. 14, 2012, massacre by a deranged lone gunman in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 26 people dead, 20 of them young children—with particular zeal, claiming that the event was a “hoax,” the victims were all “crisis actors” who did not really exist, and that the parents were all participants in a plot to take away Americans’ gun rights. This Facebook video compiles a few of the multiple attacks by Jones:
The result was a flood of harassment directed at the grieving parents. One of the key litigants, Leonard Pozner—whose son Noah was among the victims—told reporters he had to go into hiding. “It turned into what seemed like Alex Jones had some sort of vendetta against me, because I was hurting his business. I was crippling his YouTube channel,” he told PBS. Pozner said Jones kept repeating his and Noah’s names, calling on his listeners to “investigate” Pozner.
Infowars fans and other conspiracist barraged the families with threatening phone calls, accosted victims’ parents in public, and defaced and stolen memorials to the children and teachers killed that day. Some demanded on social media that they exhume the victims’ remains to “prove” they were shot. Pozner and his wife, the Times reports, have moved a dozen times after being doxxed by conspiracy theorists.
None of this behavior seems to even tickle Glenn Greenwald’s conscience. He mocked anyone who suggested he might be lobbing softballs at Jones, then began his onstage interview with Jones for the premier of Alex’s War—a pseudo-documentary depicting Jones as the victim of the same “globalist” conspiracy he devotes his days to “exposing” with a ceaseless barrage of disinformation—by describing Jones as “disturbingly handsome in this mainstream, normal way,” and that he “obviously from the beginning had a kind of charisma, a natural charisma”:
So when you combine these attributes that you had when you were young, I think you clearly—had you been somebody who was willing to affirm rather than question establishment pieties, could have ended up as like a meteorologist on Good Morning America or like some Anderson Cooper type.
Jones claimed he “made some mistakes” but that Infowars was “90% accurate and maybe 10% wrong” but “I’m not some person getting people into wars lying to people” and that he “did not lie to people on purpose.” After even further softballs, Greenwald announced to the audience that he really wasn’t going to ask Jones much about Sandy Hook because that subject is just sooooo tedious and tiresome:
I know the expectation is I’m supposed to come here and bash you over the head about Sandy Hook. I do, though, want to ask you about a question that I'm actually interested in myself, which is, you know, you have just said that you have made mistakes. Obviously, one of those is the stuff you said about Sandy Hook. We watched you in the film come very clean about the fact that you made statements that turned out to be untrue. You've obviously spent a lot of kind of reflective time. It's like the soulful Alex Jones we got to see in the last part of the film. What is it that you think caused you to do that? I mean, you referenced some things I, you know, and I just, I identify with it myself that when, you know, people who lie for a living are telling you that you're a liar, when people who are, whose job it is to spread disinformation are accusing you of doing that, you kind of want to dig in a little bit and, and not give an inch to people who, you know, are criticizing you in good faith. But what is it about kind of how social media works, about how groups function? Have you thought about some of the psychological and cultural dynamics that led you to make some of those mistakes in Sandy Hook?
But even then, all Jones could muster was a lame pop-up:
Well, sure, think of this like a 1,000-page book. Sandy Hook in my life is like a quarter-page. And not putting down the kids that died or any of that—it’s just like—I used to take on-air calls. So the callers all called and said, “We don’t believe this, look at this.”
In Greenwald’s depiction, it was just a one-time “mistake” that Jones has adequately compensated by “coming clean” about it. In reality, as the plaintiffs’ attorneys recounted on Tuesday, Jones did much, much more than that. Lead attorney Mark Bankston took jurors down the timeline: How Jones dubbed the shooting a “false flag” the day it happened, that in short order “they are going to come after our guns,” and in the days, weeks, and years afterward he kept regurgitating the claim with new variations, claiming the children were actually “crisis actors,” that the parents were part of a globalist conspiracy, that President Obama had ordered the “hit,” that the school, funerals, and tears were all fake.
While Jones appeared in court Tuesday, it was unclear whether he would attend the trial for its duration. Jones’s attorney, F. Andino Reynal, told court in Aiustin that Jones “has medical issues” that could keep him from showing up during parts of the trial.
This kind of mercurial behavior probably played a role in the decision of his attorney in Connecticut—representing him in another Sandy Hook lawsuit—to withdraw from the case this week. The attorney not only cited a “fundamental disagreement” with Jones, putting him in an “untenable position,” but announced he was leaving the firm representing Jones altogether.
The Sandy Hook parents, in the meantime, look forward to the outcome.
“It’s very hard to fathom or relate to the danger of these online conspiracies and conspiracists, and the trial I think will definitely set a picture in people’s minds of how dangerous it is,” Neil Heslin, one of the fathers targeted by Infowars, told The New York Times. “I very much look forward to justice being served. It’s something that Jones started, and I’m going to finish it.”
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