‘Massive damages award may ‘doom’ conspiracy theorist’s Infowars media empire
A jury has ordered right-wing broadcaster Alex Jones to pay $965m (£869m) in damages to Sandy Hook victims’ families for falsely claiming that the school shooting was a hoax.
Parents and siblings of eight victims, and an FBI agent who responded to the 2012 attack, said they had faced years of harassment and death threats as a result of the conspiracy theorist’s continued misinformation.
The families “wept” as Connecticut Superior Court in Waterbury – about 20 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School – heard how they were abused by people who believed the lies told on The Alex Jones Show, The New York Times reported.
CNN said the “punishing award” could “shrink or even doom Jones’s Infowars media empire”, which has “been at the centre of major conspiracy theories” and was “embraced” by Donald Trump.
The damages award is the second against Jones over the Sandy Hook massacre, in which 20 children and six adults were killed by 20-year-old Adam Lanza.
In August, a Texas jury ordered Jones to pay $4.1m (£3.4m) in damages to the parents of a six-year-old boy who died in the attack.
Jones repeatedly claimed that the incident was staged, but recently admitted that he now believes the shooting was “100% real”. But he told the Connecticut court that “I’ve already said ‘I’m sorry’ hundreds of times and I’m done saying I’m sorry”.
His claims about Sandy Hook have formed “part of a larger body of misinformation and theories for which he has had to apologise”, said The Guardian. They include the “so-called Pizzagate conspiracy that alleged a Washington D.C. pizzeria was home to a child sex-abuse ring”.