Families of Sandy Hook Victims Score Legal Victory Against Performance Artist Alex Jones and Infowars

Families of the Sandy Hook victims are suing Jones, saying he promoted lies about the school shooting to profit from their pain.

By Claudia Koerner, BuzzFeed Jan 12, 2019

Alex Jones will have to turn over his tax returns, business plans, and marketing data in a lawsuit with families of Sandy Hook victims, who say he pushed conspiracy theories about the school shooting to get rich.

Six families of children and teachers killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School sued Jones and associates of his site Infowars last year, accusing him of defamation, invasion of privacy, and infliction of emotional distress. The families argue that Jones never believed the mass shooting was a hoax, but he promoted conspiracies online and on his radio show in order to make a profit.

Infowars and Jones’ conspiracies are motivated by a desire to convince people to buy supplements, survival gear, and male-enhancement products, not inform or even entertain people, their lawsuit’s complaint said.

“Rather, Jones and his associates deliberately stoke social anxiety and political discord in their listeners, because distrust in government and cultural tribalism motivate those listeners to buy their products.”

With a judge’s order this week, Jones will have to recount how he made his money as well as provide all documents, emails, and other communication about topics including Sandy Hook, mass shootings, and Infowars as a whole. Through the lawsuit’s discovery process, he’ll have to provide his tax returns, business and marketing plans, contracts, and business relationships, as well as data and analytics related to the revenue on online platforms.

The victims’ families say that information will prove that Jones didn’t believe in his own hoaxes, and intentionally exploited the families and their tragedy to make millions of dollars.

“The Jones defendants and their co-conspirators’ conduct is based on a simple motive: greed. The defendants’ business model is based on their fabrication, propagation, and amplification of conspiracy-minded falsehoods like those about Sandy Hook,” their complaint said. “It is a very lucrative business model.”

Attorneys for Jones have dismissed the families’ requests for information as a “fishing expedition,” but this week, a judge agreed it was relevant to the lawsuit. The victims’ families defended their right to Jones’ business materials.

“[His attorneys] know just how damaging it will be to reveal that their revenue stream is from product sales, their business plan is to sell products, and their web marketing data confirms that is what they do every day,” a court filing said.

In the past, Jones’ attorneys have defended his work as “performance art” and said he was playing a character. As such, his statements and online stories should be protected by free speech, they’ve said.

The Sandy Hook families, in their court filing, pointed to what Jones said in an Infowars video in April 2017.

“They’ve got articles out today that say I’m fake, all of this other crap. Total bull,” Jones said. “The media is deceiving everywhere. I 110% believe what I stand for.”

InfoWars’ Alex Jones is a ‘performance artist playing a character’, says his lawyer

Jones’ ex-wife says he is ‘not a stable person.’

Notorious US broadcaster Alex Jones is a “performance artist” and his on air persona is an act, according to his lawyer.

Mr Jones runs the controversial Infowars website, which is known for propagating conspiracy theories and its support of Donald Trump.

But Mr Jones is now embroiled in a custody battle with his estranged wife, Kelly Jones, with whom he has three children. She said some of Mr Jones’s on-air rants – for which he is renowned – are evidence of him being “not a stable” father. Fake news conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton led a man to open fire in a pizza parlour

However, Randall Wilhite, Mr Jones’s attorney, said the behaviour was merely an act.

“He’s playing a character. He is a performance artist.” Mr Wilhite said, according to the Austin-American Statesman.

Mr Wilhite said that using Mr Jones’ on-air persona to judge him as a father would be like judging Jack Nicholson in a custody dispute based on his performance as the Joker in Batman.

The claim is likely to cause some confusion among Mr Jones’s fans, who have closely followed his musings. These included unfounded assertions that the Sandy Hook massacre and Boston bombings were hoaxes, Hillary Clinton should be jailed and that Barack Obama founded Isis.

But Mr Jones is not just any shock jock – his listeners are believed to include President Trump, who appeared on his show in December 2015, several months after he announced his candidacy. With millions of listeners a month, Infowars is credited with galvanising a large amount of support for Mr Trump during last year’s election. 

Yet Mr Jones’s former wife claimed he was unhinged. 

According to the Statesman, Ms Jones told a pre-trial hearing: “He’s not a stable person. He says he wants to break Alec Baldwin’s neck. He wants J-Lo to get raped.”

She also referred to comments Mr Jones made about California Democrat Adam Schiff, a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee who defended LGBT rights. 

Mr Jones called Mr Schiff a “fairy” and said he would “beat [his] goddamn ass”.

“I’m concerned that he is engaged in felonious behaviour, threatening a member of Congress. He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching him broadcast,” Ms Jones said. 

London

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