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Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones found liable for defamation in Sandy Hook case


Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones lost a long-running defamation case yesterday. He was named in a suit brought by families of some of the 26 victims killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut. The families sued Jones over his repeated and false claims the shooting was a hoax. Diane Orson of Connecticut Public Radio reports.

DIANE ORSON, BYLINE: The claims were outrageous. On his Infowars website, Alex Jones insisted that families who lost loved ones were actors who had faked the death of their relatives. Jones repeated these lies until 2020. Victims' relatives sued Jones in two states for defamation. Jones and his legal team responded by dragging their feet. They failed to provide information demanded by the court. They repeatedly blew past courtroom deadlines.


BARBARA BELLIS: ...Their failure to produce critical documents, their disregard for the discovery process and procedure and for court orders.

ORSON: Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis issued a default judgment against Jones. She believes the persistent failure by Jones and his attorney to comply with her demands is an obstruction of justice.

CHRIS MATTEI: She was left with no choice but to default him.

ORSON: Attorney Chris Mattei represents the plaintiffs, which include families of eight victims of the Newtown shooting.

MATTEI: When you have somebody like Alex Jones, who is so used to spreading mistruths and, frankly, lying from the security of his own studio in Austin, Texas, and that person then has to come into a court of law where they're required to defend their conduct, defend it under oath, it becomes very, very difficult for him to do that.


ALEX JONES: Tyranny is now truly here in America.

ORSON: That's Alex Jones in a video posted Monday on the Infowars website. He blasted the ruling as a violation of his constitutional rights. His defense attorney, Norm Pattis, added in a written statement, quote, "We remain confident that in the end, the Sandy Hook families cannot prove either liability or damages."

The Connecticut ruling comes six weeks after a Texas judge issued default judgments against Jones in three similar defamation lawsuits. The case moves now to a jury to decide how much Jones will pay in damages to the families.

For NPR News, I'm Diane Orson in New Haven.


Diane Orson is WNPR's local host for Morning Edition. She's also a reporter for WNPR, as well as a contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories are heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane began at WBUR in Boston and came to Connecticut in 1988 as a co-producer for Open Air New England. She shared a Peabody Award with Faith Middleton for their piece of radio nostalgia about New Haven's Shubert Theater. Her reporting has been recognized by the Connecticut Society for Professional Journalists and the Associated Press, including the Ellen Abrams Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism and the Walt Dibble Award for Overall Excellence.