Sandy Hook families win Infowars ruling
The families of victims in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School must receive access to internal documents at Infowars, the internet and radio show whose host, Alex Jones, has spread the false claim that the shooting was an elaborate hoax, a judge ruled Friday.
The ruling was a legal victory for the families, who in 2018 filed a defamation lawsuit against Jones, who traffics in conspiracy theories, and Infowars. The suit argued that peddling bogus stories was essential to the business model of Infowars, which sells products including survivalist gear, gun paraphernalia and dietary supplements.
A gunman killed 20 children and six adults in the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, just over six years ago, and Jones helped to spread the idea that grieving relatives of those victims were paid “crisis actors.”
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are relatives of five children and three adults who were killed, and one FBI agent who responded to the shooting. Their complaint said the families have faced “physical confrontation and harassment, death threats, and a sustained barrage of harassment and verbal assault on social media.”
“They have confronted strange individuals videotaping them and their children,” the suit said. “Some have moved to undisclosed locations to avoid this harassment.”
The complaint said Infowars profits by stoking paranoia to amass more followers, to whom it can sell more products.
“From the beginning, we have alleged that Alex Jones and his financial network trafficked in lies and hate in order to profit from the grief of Sandy Hook families,” Chris Mattei, a lawyer representing the families, said in a statement Friday. “That is what we intend to prove, and today’s ruling advances our effort.”
Judge Barbara Bellis of the Connecticut Superior Court ruled that Jones would have to surrender documents – including letters, memos, emails and text messages – that concern the business plan or marketing strategies of Infowars, the shooting at Sandy Hook, crisis actors or mass shootings in general, the statement said.
The parents of two other Sandy Hook victims are also suing Jones and Infowars in Texas, his home state.