Alex Jones was back on the airwaves almost immediately Friday after being ordered to pay nearly $50 million to the grieving parents of Sandy Hook — continuing to insist the cards were stacked against him as he blamed George Soros and “the workers” for his legal problems.
This defiance was in stark contrast to the red-faced, slack-jawed shock that registered on Jones’ face during the trial when it emerged that his lawyers had mistakenly sent incriminating evidence to opposing counsel.
This week, media mogul Infowars, estimated to be worth about $270 million by an economist witness, lost the first of many lawsuits against him for spreading conspiracy theories and disinformation. He has repeatedly insisted that the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut – when a gunman killed 20 six- and seven-year-olds at an elementary school – was staged as a hoax.
Mr Jones eventually admitted under oath that the shooting was “100% real” and even shook hands with relatives of the victims.
After paying out millions, however, the conspiracy theorist resumed his brash and defiant persona.
On a Friday show, he said billionaire philanthropist George Soros and an unnamed group had “coordinated and run” a campaign against him. Mr Jones also aimed to have economist Bernard Pettingill Jr and judge Maya Guerra Gamble testify.
“This is beyond any set-up kangaroo court,” he said on Friday.
Despite admitting in court that the mass killing took place in 2012 – contrary to years of claims otherwise and his deer-in-the-headlights expression when caught in a lie – Mr Jones’ commercial bullish demeanor was almost a character throughout the trial.
On a break on the first day he held one impromptu press conference just meters from the court doors and again used the term “kangaroo court” as well as “show trial”, claiming that the fight for free speech under the First Amendment was railroaded. On the first day he arrived at the courthouse with “Save the 1st” written in silver tape over his mouth.
When he came to the courthouse, he was always with a security detail of three or four guards. Jones, who was not in court for the verdict, often skipped testimony to appear on his daily Infowars program, where the attacks on the judge and jury continued. During a broadcast, Jones said the jury was out on a group of people who “don’t know what planet they live on.”
Some legal experts told The Associated Press they were surprised by Jones’ behavior and wondered if it was a calculated risk to boost his appeal with fans.
“It’s the most outlandish behavior I’ve ever seen in a trial,” said First Amendment lawyer Barry Covert of Buffalo, New York. AP. “In my opinion, Jones is a money-making juggernaut – mad as a fox. The bigger the spectacle, the better.”
Kevin Goldberg, a First Amendment expert at the Maryland-based Freedom Forum, said it was hard for him to imagine what Jones might have been thinking and what benefit he might have derived from his behavior.
“I don’t know what it’s designed to accomplish beyond being on brand for Alex Jones,” Mr. Goldberg told the AP. “This appears to be a man who has built his brand … on disrespecting the institutions of government … and this court.”
Despite Mr. Jones’s stance, the plaintiffs and the victims’ relatives felt somewhat vindicated by the trial’s decision.
“Alex Jones found responsible” he tweeted plaintiff Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse, 6, was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre; “Today the jury proved that most of America is ready to choose love over fear and I will be forever grateful. Ironically, Alex Jones ended up giving me a bigger platform to share Jesse’s story and message.