By Cecilia Lenzen, The Texas Tribune
“Lawyers for Alex Jones turned over evidence that contradicted his testimony” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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Conspiracy theorist and media personality Alex Jones was confronted with several pieces of evidence Wednesday that contradicted his own testimony during his defamation trial, where the parents of a 6-year-old killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting are suing him after he claimed the massacre was staged.
The revelations — including text messages and emails Jones’ attorneys apparently sent to opposing counsel by accident — came on the final day of testimony in the portion of the trial in which jurors will determine what damages, if any, Jones owes the parents of Jesse Lewis.
Jones testified Tuesday that he never mentioned Sandy Hook in text messages, so he never provided such records as required during the trial’s discovery process. But Mark Bankston, an attorney for Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, told Jones on Wednesday that Jones’ own attorneys recently accidentally sent them the contents of Jones’ phone from the last two years.
Bankston then pointed out several texts and other evidence that contradicted Jones’ previous testimony and said he had several of Jones’ text messages that mentioned Sandy Hook. He had Jones read one to confirm.
At first, Jones tried to say that the existence of the texts demonstrated he properly provided them, even though his lawyers sent them after discovery.
“I’m not a tech guy. I told you in my testimony, I gave my phone to the lawyers,” Jones said.
Heslin and Lewis are suing Jones for $150 million for telling listeners of his Austin-based website and broadcast Infowars that the nation’s second deadliest school shooting — in which 20 children ages 6 and 7 and six adults were killed — was a government hoax meant to take away Americans’ guns. That led his listeners to harass the victims’ families.
An Austin judge previously ordered a default judgment against Jones for defamation. It’s one of many defamation lawsuits filed by families of Sandy Hook shooting victims that Jones has lost.
During his questioning, Jones’ lawyer F. Andino Reynal asked if he understood how “absolutely irresponsible” it was for him to claim that the Sandy Hook shooting never happened and that no one actually died.
“It was,” Jones replied. “Especially since I’ve met the parents. It’s 100% real.”
Earlier in his testimony, Jones said he had personally searched for “Sandy Hook” in his text messages and had found no messages. He also testified that he does not have a personal email and would therefore have no email history of talking about Sandy Hook.
Bankston revealed that the contents of Jones’ phone suggested otherwise. In response, Jones said he sometimes dictates emails to his assistant, which he does not count as personally writing or sending emails. He also put the onus on his IT team to have sent over any emails about Sandy Hook.
“I personally do not get on the internet and sit there and use email,” Jones said. “I never send emails myself because I don’t like it, I can’t stand it. That’s a fact, that I don’t use email.”
Jones testified that he lost millions of dollars after deplatforming. In 2018, Jones and Infowars were banned by YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Apple for violating those platforms’ hate speech policies. Bankston said the contents of Jones’ phone showed that his revenue actually rose. Some days, Infowars garnered more than $800,000 per day. Jones said that high figure was a result of his show’s programming about the Conservative Political Action Conference.
During the rest of his testimony, Jones repeatedly portrayed himself as a victim. He said his identity was “stolen” and he was made into a “monster” by mainstream media after talking about the Sandy Hook shooting on Infowars. He blamed corporate media for misportraying him and his comments and complained that Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign targeted him for portraying the elementary school shooting as a hoax. He also said his notorious interview with Megyn Kelly in 2017 was overedited and misrepresented his views.
Jones said if he could change the past, he would have chosen not to air his coverage of Sandy Hook because of how it ruined his life and career — without citing how it affected the lives of the Sandy Hook parents.
During closing arguments, one of the parents’ attorneys, Kyle Farrar, told jurors that they have a chance to hold Jones accountable for the harm his actions and words caused.
“This is a decade of lies, a decade of deceit that destroyed people’s lives,” Farrar said. “He’s made [Heslin and Lewis] live their lives in fear, in fear of being harmed or murdered by people who believed the lies and wanted to do something about it.”
Jurors began deliberations late Wednesday afternoon and were expected to continue considering testimony and evidence Thursday.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/08/03/alex-jones-trial-defamation-sandy-hook/.
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