WATERBURY, Conn. ― New evidence in the defamation trial of Alex Jones on Thursday revealed how the conspiracy theorist and his website, Infowars, saw a spike in revenue after a particularly nasty lie about a school shooting.
“FBI Says Nobody Killed at Sandy Hook Massacre” read the headline for a bogus 2014 article on the site. The story, written by Infowars employee Adan Salazar, claimed the government agency did not count any murders in Connecticut in 2012, the year that 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown.
Though this is not true, that didn’t stop Jones from going on his Infowars video program to say that an FBI report showed “no one died in 2012 in Sandy Hook. It shows no homicides in that town.”
On Sept. 24, 2014 — the day before Infowars made the claim — the site made $48,000 in revenue, primarily from selling dietary supplements. When Infowars slung the fake Sandy Hook story on Sept. 25, daily revenue increased to $232,000, according to internal Infowars sales data shown at Jones’ trial.
“That’s a 500% increase,” attorney Chris Mattei, who is representing several Sandy Hook families, told the court.
Jones is facing his second defamation trial this year related to the school shooting after being ordered to cough up over $45 million in August to two Sandy Hook parents he defamed. Jones also lost multiple cases last year after failing to provide court-ordered documents. A jury will now decide how much he’ll have to pay to the Connecticut families, as well as to an FBI agent who responded to the shooting and tearfully testified in court Tuesday.
When Infowars released the false FBI story on Sept. 25, 2014, Jones claimed on his program that Sandy Hook schoolchildren were actors. Joining him on the show was Wolfgang Halbig, an extremist who still claims the shooting was staged.
From January 2012 to June 2019 ― a period in which thousands of articles were published on Infowars ― the second most popular was Salazar’s Sandy Hook story. Nearly 3 million people accessed the article directly, Mattei told the court Tuesday, citing internal Infowars data.
Jones, who has been notably absent from the courtroom thus far, is expected to testify at some point in the trial, which is expected to last about a month.