UPDATE: Just a day after the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims sued Alex Jones for defamation, the wild-eyed conspiracy theorist claimed that he was the one being defamed.
“You’re allowed to question things in America,” he sermonized during his internet broadcast on Wednesday. “That’s not defamation. But what is defamation is to file lawsuits that say I said things I didn’t say, and then put me and my whole family through the ringer and lie about us and hold us up against dead children and say basically we hate their families, we hate the children.”
Jones also insisted that his original conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook shooting being a hoax were simply him "playing devil's advocate," and that he never actually believed the shooting was fake.
In response to the comments, the parents' lawyer, Wesley Todd Ball, told Bloomberg, "Alex Jones’ latest comments show he has zero respect for the torment he’s putting these victims through. His comments are nothing more than a lie on top of a lie. They are void of an apology."
At the time of the 2012 shooting, Jones had used his InfoWars show to suggest the idea that the victims' parents were paid actors, and that the federal government was possibly involved in a media plot to take away Americans' guns.
While it's unclear what Jones hopes to accomplish by turning the "defamation" table back on the victims' parents, he may be just planting seeds of doubt about the legitimacy of the lawsuits against him. It seems unlikely to work, except in the minds of his followers, who likely have already drank too much of his Kool-Aid to see the issue clearly.
Ultimately, Jones' move to deflect the accusation of defamation back at the parents reveals how deeply unethical his brand of "info war" really is.
Infamous conspiracy theorist and “Infowars” host Alex Jones is facing a defamation lawsuit from families of four children and two educators who died in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting as well as an FBI agent who responded to the massacre.
In the years since the national tragedy, Jones has been pushing the narrative that the shooting was a hoax cooked up by liberals to get more Americans on board with gun control.
Additionally, Jones has accused the parents of the deceased children of being “crisis actors” who are lying about losing their kids in the massacre, HuffPost reports.
A few of these parents have had enough and are taking legal action against Jones’ attacks.
In two lawsuits filed Monday, parents of two of the children killed in the shooting claim that Jones’ accusations against them have led to death threats. The suits were filed by Neil Heslin, who lost his 6-year-old boy, and Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, who also lost their son.
The lawsuits — which were both filed in Austin, Texas, where Jones’ show is based — each seeks more than $1 million in damages from Jones, “Infowars,” and a related company called Free Speech Systems LLC. One of the suits also names “Infowars” reporter Owen Shroyer.
Heslin’s suit specifically addresses a “heartless and vile” comment made by Shroyer who insisted that the grieving father lied about holding his son’s dead body.
“I lost my son. I buried my son. I held my son with a bullet hole through his head,” Heslin told Megyn Kelly in a June 2017 NBC News segment.
After the segment with Kelly aired, Shroyer told the “Infowars” audience that Heslin was lying about holding his son because the shooting victims were reportedly identified through photographs.
“That’s not something you would just misspeak on,” Shroyer said during the June 26, 2017, broadcast, which was also referenced by Jones a month later.
Heslin’s lawsuit argues that Shroyer’s claim is “manifestly false” as the victims’ bodies were released to their parents eventually for their funerals.
Parents of the youngest shooting victim, Pozner and De La Rosa, are also going after Jones for calling them liars.
On an episode of “Infowars” in April 2017, Jones talked about an interview De La Rosa had given to Anderson Cooper of CNN soon after the shooting occurred, claiming that the entire interview was staged.
“So here are these holier than thou people, when we question CNN, who is supposedly at the site of Sandy Hook, and they got in one shot leaves blowing, and the flowers that are around it, and you see the leaves blowing, and they go [gestures]. They glitch,” Jones said, according to a transcript quoted in the lawsuit. “They’re recycling a green-screen behind them.”
However, this wasn’t the first time Jones had tried to pass off this same lie.
“Folks, we’ve got video of Anderson Cooper with clear blue-screen out there,” Jones said in 2014. “He’s not there in the town square. We got people clearly coming up and laughing and then doing the fake crying. We’ve clearly got people where it’s actors playing different parts for different people, the building bulldozed, covering up everything.”
The parents’ cases are being handled by attorney Mark Bankston, who is also involved in another defamation suit against Jones in which a man was incorrectly identified by “Infowars” as the Parkland, Florida, shooter.
“I think as a father, it’s a very surreal experience,” Bankston said of his Sandy Hook cases. “Anyone, parents or not, who spends 15 minutes talking to one of these parents will understand immediately how vile this lie was, and how genuine their pain is.”
I am so sorry for these parents that it ever had to come to this, but God willing this will be a forum for truth and some degree of respite from this cruel absurdity. https://t.co/apUos2RfLo— Mitch Horowitz (@MitchHorowitz) April 17, 2018
I don't think most people understand how merciless and withering the attacks on Sandy Hook families have been. This isn't about a gun discussion. This is about decency for families who lost their little kids: https://t.co/wx0kq5h78N— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) April 17, 2018
“Even after these folks had to experience this trauma, for the next 5 years they were tormented by AlexJones with vicious lies about them&these lies were meant to convince his audience that the Sandy Hook parents are frauds& have perpetrated a sinister lie on the American people”— Erik Stover (@ErikStoverNYC) April 17, 2018
At one point, Jones suggested that he would stop broadcasting his conspiracies about the shooting. Back in November 2016, he said that if “children were lost at Sandy Hook, my heart goes out to each and every one of those parents.”
However, he added, “The only problem is, I’ve watched a lot of soap operas, and I’ve seen actors before. And I know when I’m watching a movie and when I’m watching something real.”
Despite the fact he still insinuated that the shooting was a hoax, that segment was titled “Alex Jones Final Statement on Sandy Hook.” But that wasn’t his final statement at all. As the lawsuits note, he spoke of the tragedy several times afterward.
It is yet to be seen what becomes of these lawsuits, but it is gratifying to witness Jones finally being held accountable for the vitriol he spews on a regular basis.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Lucas Jackson