Alex Jones, the controversial host of the Infowars podcast, is now facing a 45.2 million dollar verdict on his ongoing trial for defamation. He may end up paying considerably less, but this is only the first of three trials that are yet to take place.

Infowars is a long-running far-right conspiracy theory news site known for spreading misinformation and fake news. It’s been going since 1999 and Jones has managed to create an “empire” of misinformation among his audience, popularizing his notorious explosive personality.

Jones was sued by the parents of the children that were killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting that took place in  2012, in Newtown Connecticut, United States. The Sandy Hook school shooting is currently the deadliest in U.S. history, with 26 deaths in total; 20 children and 6 staff members. The children were all between six and seven years old.

The shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, committed suicide on location.

Ever since the incident, pretty much on the same day it happened, Jones took to his Infowars platform to claim that the shooting was a hoax. According to him, it was an elaborately staged incident, and the parents were paid actors made to perform for the media, with the intention of spreading fear over gun ownership so that ultimately, the government could justify taking away people’s guns.

Source: Texas Tribute
Source: Texas Tribute

This is particularly inflammatory because Alex Jones is from Austin, Texas, a state that has particular notoriety for a gun culture where until recently, Texans were free to carry firearms in public places with no issue and showed pride in owning weapons.

This has caused a lot of hostility towards the child’s parents from Jones’s target audience, leading to over a decade of harassment over multiple means. They have been harassed by strangers on the street, received threatening phone calls that forced them to activate the police, and have even heard gunshots fired outside their homes.

Jones’ only platform for “free speech” is his own website, as he was removed from other platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter over spreading misinformation and hate speech.

Jones has been sued by 10 families from the Sandy Hook shooting over four separate trials and was found liable in all of them because he refused to disclaim documents and financial reports. This trial happening right now was the first of four to determine how much Jones would pay to the families, with the first verdict being the aforementioned 45.2 million dollars.

After the order, Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy, which the layers in favor of the families say is merely a tactic to delay the next trials.

Jones and his lawyers are claiming that paying such a sum would end his company. According to Texas laws, there’s a cap over how much an individual can be charged for defamation and they claim that limit isn’t being respected. The judge has confirmed that Texan laws will be respected, but at the time of writing hasn’t yet reduced the sum Jones was ordered to pay.

The families’ lawyers claim the bankruptcy is a tactic because Jones and his lawyers have been extremely dodgy when it comes to disclaiming the host’s actual fortune. Jones has contradicted himself several times over the matter as well and has taken steps to obscure the information (which is why even if you Google his net worth, you will not find an easy answer as is usually the case).

Alex Jones during the moment he discovered his lawyers had accidentally leaked text messages to the families suing him. Source: KnowYourMeme
Alex Jones during the moment he discovered his lawyers had accidentally leaked text messages to the families suing him. Source: KnowYourMeme

A forensic economist testified to claim that Alex Jones and his company Free Speech Systems have a net worth of anywhere between $135 million to $275 million. There’s evidence that at one point Jones was paying himself $6 million a year, which directly contradicts his claim that an order to pay more than $2 million would bankrupt Infowars.

Most concerning however is that Free Speech Systems had a debt of $79.8 million dollars to a company called PQPR Holdings – apparently a shell company with no employees except for Jones himself as the manager. The forensics expert suspects that Jones was funneling thousands of dollars a day into this company ever since the trials began as a way to pay himself back.

Finally, to add even more suspect to Jones's claims, his lawyers accidentally leaked over two years of text messages to the families that were suing them, which revealed a number of contradictions in his statements during the trial.

Among them, that he searched his phone for years for text messages concerning the incident or the families and found nothing, which the leak quickly disproved – as well as revealing financial reports Jones’ had been unwilling to share before.

The moment Jones discovered the leak in court and turned around with a shocked expression became a running gag (image above.)