Should freedom of speech and freedom of the press be waived, in the event of misinformation? Should journalist be held accountable for the actions of their readers?
Alex Jones, a libertarian, investigative reporter, conspiracy theorist, and founder of Infowars.com and Free Speech Systems LLC has been found guilty of defamation.
A controversial figure in mainstream media throughout his career, Alex Jones has exposed hundreds of stories on air, with many of his alleged “conspiracy theories” having been proven correct. However, on December 14, 2012, Jones would make a life changing mistake, which would greatly shape his future public image.
Many non-listeners, and people who have never even listened to Alex Jones, know him through a series of left-wing hit pieces, and online clips highlighting his worst moments. Some editors and fans add music and loop segments of these clips into strange videos, which are reposted by Infowars during their commercial breaks.
In what would become a notorious attribute to his negative connotation, on December 14th, 2012, Alex Jones stated the Sandy Hook School shooting, which killed 26 victims, may have been a government fabrication as part of a tactic to impose gun laws. The families argue that Jones was able to profit from the deaths of the victims by spreading misinformation.
Almost a decade later, after many trials, on November 15th, 2021, a Connecticut judge ruled in favor of Sandy Hook Elementary School parents in Newton, Connecticut, finding Alex Jones guilty of defamation in all four cases against him. Jones will have to pay in restorative damages to the families of the victims.
Alex Jones was found guilty by default for “refusing” to turn over documents showing his profit made off of the misinformation surrounding the death of the victims at Sandy Hook.
A Court Document from 2018 highlights the importance of the first amendment, stating “At the heart of the first amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on the matters of public interest and concern. The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual truth and liberty —and thus a good unto itself—but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the variety of society as a whole… The First Amendment recognizes no such thing as a ‘false’ idea.”
Infowars Internal Response
According to TexasMonthly.com, in 2015, Paul Joseph Watson, journalist at Infowars, and Summit.News emailed Alex Jones stating “This Sandy Hook stuff is killing us.” On December 17, 2015, according to court documents filed this week. “It’s promoted by the most bat shit crazy people like [Jeff] Rense and [James] Fetzer who all hate us anyway. Plus it makes us look really bad to align with people who harass the parents of dead kids. It’s going to hurt us with Drudge and bringing bigger names into the show. Plus the event happened three years ago. Why even risk our reputation for it?”
“If I said the moon was made out of cheese, as an opinion, whether I’m on a radio show or on a street corner, I’m allowed to,” Alex Jones argued during a 2019 deposition.
Alex Jones stated he believed the shooting was staged “because so many things are staged,” Jones, also discussed Jeffery Epstein and his secret involvement with prominent figures, stating “America thinks that Epstein did not kill himself. Are you going to sue all them?” “People don’t believe that he killed himself”. “The government says that he did kill himself. [the establishment] want to be able to sue you to make you believe the official story and not question it.”
Despite Alex Jones being wrong about the Sandy Hook shooting, he has been right about most of his investigative reports. He seeks to informs his listeners, and expose tyrannical corruption. At the end of the day, Alex Jones, a libertarian, reports stories for the people. “I’m proud of the compendium of my work, not small clips taken out of context,” Alex Jones stated. “And I’m a good person. And I pioneered exposing Epstein 13 years ago, said they’d fly around on aircraft with the Clintons and kidnap children and it’s been proven right. Everybody comes up and shakes my hand, apologizes in Austin now, the liberals do. They go, ‘Oh, we’re sorry and we were wrong about you,’ and a bunch of other stuff.”
Alex Jones and Infowars haven’t been the only prominent entity to suggest the Sandy Hook shooting may have been forged. In October, Gun manufacturer Remington requested school records of the victims involved.
Should Alex Jones be punished for posting and publicly redacting misinformation of a situation that happened nearly a decade ago? Jones, stating in multiple interviews that he had a “form of psychosis” thinking everything may have been a conspiracy theory, after reporting on false intelligence from 8chan. Alex Jones has since profusely apologized publicly on multiple platforms, including Joe Rogan.
As reported by CNN, Alex Jones apologized publicly stating “[a]nd I, myself, have almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’ve now learned a lot of times things aren’t staged,” Jones said. “So I think as a pundit, someone giving an opinion, that, you know, my opinions have been wrong, but they were never wrong consciously to hurt people.”
Referencing his psychological influence of the “trauma” of the mainstream media, Alex stated “So long before these lawsuits I said that in the past I thought everything was a conspiracy and I would kind of get into that mass group think of the communities that were out saying that,” Alex Jones said. “And so now I see that it’s more in the middle… so that’s where I stand.”
Alex has since repetitively told viewers and listeners to stop posting his redacted information, and to leave the families alone.
Alex Jones Responds
Alex Jones responded in a video statement on his website, Infowars.com.
Alex Jones, also responded to the Project Veritas raids, stating it was “the move against America” and “foreign corporations taking the country over, and they have listed the people that are just good Americans, as the enemy”
Since Alex Jones first released the false story, some crazed viewers and listeners began harassing the families of the victims in an effort to “uncover the [fake] truth”. Should it be the responsibility of journalists to control the actions of their readers? Should freedom of speech and freedom of the press be applied to misinformation? Is true free speech as written in our Constitution, applicable to all perspectives, right or wrong?