Alex Jones's Billion Dollar Lies
Plus: A surprising endorsement in Wisconsin
Karma is a harsh and bitter mistress, especially for someone who spent years lying about the murder of dead children. For Alex Jones, condign punishment would be showing up at the gates of Hell dead broke.
So what happened yesterday was a good start. But it’s not over.
A Connecticut jury on Wednesday ordered broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay nearly $1 billion in damages to the families of eight Sandy Hook shooting victims and a law enforcement first responder to compensate them for a decade of abuse from people who believe his lies that the 2012 elementary school massacre was a hoax.
The astonishing $965 million compensatory damages verdict, after three and one-half weeks of gripping accounts of harassment from Jones and his followers, could increase in coming days with the addition of punitive damages, which are awarded for particularly outrageous and willful conduct.
"They make these lies with all this money we've got. It's all just delusional leftist crap. Like that two men can have a baby. The same cult that wants to cut your son's balls off," said Jones.
Upon the announcement that Jones owed plaintiff Robbie Parker $120 million, Jones pumped his fist and yelled, "Yeah! Woo!"…
Jones… [called] the whole ordeal "hilarious."
"Get those numbers up!... C'mon, we need more than that!" Jones said.
Of course, Jones also took the verdicts as yet another opportunity to grift. Because, of course. (I suspect that even scum-sucking maggots are ashamed to be lumped in with this guy.)
It’s important to put this into context, especially now that we all live in Alex Jones’s world. Back in August, after a Texas jury hit him with a $50 million judgment, I wrote that the Jones saga is “a reminder that in today’s conservative movement, crazy is not only tolerated — it’s encouraged.
Because Jones’ toxic, anti-governmental conspiracy theories have slowly but surely infiltrated the political waters. Things that 10 years ago would have been dismissed are now being repeated in the halls of Congress. And of course, former President Donald Trump is right there in the middle of it all.
Jones now admits that that attack at Sandy Hook was “100% real.” But that admission came only after years of vile smears.
“Sandy Hook [was] ‘synthetic,’ completely fake, with actors, in my view,” Jones said in one clip “Manufactured. I couldn’t believe it at first. I knew they had actors, they are clearly, but I thought they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are, that they clearly used actors, I mean, they even ended up using photos of kids killed in mass shootings … in a fake mass shooting in Turkey. Or, uh, Pakistan.”
This is evil shit. The pain he inflicted on the families of the murdered children is unimaginable. Those lies mean that the grieving parents were subjected to years of threats, insults and intimidation. The jury got it.
But Jones flourished in the right’s growing alternative reality bubble where he could drive the political narrative. Instead of being shunned or marginalized, Jones found that lying was a lucrative business model that leads to celebrity and political clout.
And it’s naïve to think that will change now. MAGA is already rushing to cast Jones as a martyr of the “Regime.” Here’s Trumpverse rock star Charlie Kirk:
As David French pointed out: “Defamation isn’t protected speech. The message sent is that lying about the parents of murdered children has legal consequences, including compensatory and punitive damages. It’s basic American law, not “Regime” retaliation.”
But such legal niceties are beside the point when there are victim cards to play.
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A surprise endorsement
I’ve known James Wigderson for a very long time. He’s been a leading conservative GOP voice in Wisconsin for decades, and when I stepped down from my radio show back in 2016, I handed him the keys to the website, “RightWisconsin.”
Unlike most of the state’s other Republicans, James refused to drink the fetid kool-aid of Trumpism, but he also remained an acerbic and sharp-eyed critic of Democrats. Recently, I had him on the podcast, and I think it’s fair to say that, even though he has written devastating exposés of RonAnon, he shared my doubts about Dem senate nominee Mandela Barnes.
So, his decision this week to endorse both Barnes and Democratic incumbent governor, Tony Evers, came as a surprise. He writes in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
I was a reliable Republican voter since I was a Wisconsin College Republican at the same time as future governor Scott Walker and future Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. From the time I managed a Republican campaign for Congress in 1992 until my days as the editor and owner of RightWisconsin, I supported the conservative movement and Republican candidates.
But this year party loyalty is asking too much. I am going to vote for Mandela Barnes for U.S. Senate and Tony Evers for governor.
Wigderson makes it clear that he hasn’t become a progressive.
I am under no illusions that I have any policy positions in common with Barnes or Evers. I am pro-life. I support school choice. I support smaller government and lower taxes. I believe that we need to reduce crime by putting more police officers on the street and closing the revolving door at our courthouses.
But even more dear to me, and more important to the country, is protecting the Constitution. On this, Sen. Ron Johnson and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels cannot be trusted.
In his essay, he lays out the case against both Johnson and Michels.
Even prior to the assault upon our Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Johnson actively worked to undermine the peaceful transfer of power. Johnson held fake hearings on the election to cast doubt on the result, then announced he would join 10 other senators to vote to overturn the 2020 election, disenfranchising voters in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
On Jan. 4, 2021, Johnson was in a conference with Trump administration officials and Mike Lindell who considered using fake intelligence reports as an excuse for invoking the Insurrection Act. Johnson did not reveal his participation in this conference until it was uncovered by the Washington Post.
On the morning of the Jan. 6 insurrection, Johnson was in contact with Trump’s lawyer Jim Troupis and his office attempted to pass along the names of the fake Republican electors to Vice President Mike Pence, part of an effort to derail certification of the election.
After the insurrection, Johnson didn’t follow through with objecting to the election but has continually downplayed the violence of the event and its intent. Despite the evidence, Johnson has repeatedly denied the rioters of Jan. 6 were armed.
As recently as Oct. 4, Johnson joked how the protestors found a new use for metal flag poles. Metal flag poles were among the weapons used against police officers guarding the Capitol. Over 130 police officers were injured in the attack, with one dying from a stroke the following day as he recovered from being pepper sprayed in the face. Four other officers would later commit suicide with their deaths attributed to the violence. Some joke.
Meanwhile, Tim Michels willingly used the endorsement of Donald Trump to secure victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary election. The price, we have since learned, is Michels’ willingness to continue to be a pawn in Trump’s game of trying to undermine confidence in our elections. Michels claims President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 was fraudulent, citing the conspiracist propaganda film “2000 Mules” as evidence.
“Here in Wisconsin, was the election rigged? Was the election fixed? I’ve seen the movies,” Michels said at a GOP candidate forum. “I’ve seen 2000 Mules, Rigged, all that stuff. Certainly there was fraud.”
Never before has bad taste in movies disqualified a candidate for office, but Michels is breaking new ground by saying he has not ruled out decertifying the 2020 election. And despite what we’ve learned about the violent insurrection on Jan. 6, Michels would support Trump again in 2024. This makes the idea of Governor Michels dangerous to our democracy.
How hard was this for Wigderson to write? He emailed me:
It was very hard. I'm breaking my own rule about endorsing candidates, something I believe writers should avoid. Both Governor Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes are two politicians that I've strongly criticized and they're very wrong on issues I care deeply about, education and abortion. And on a personal level, I know people on the Republican side of those campaigns, including a good friend.
I am sure I will hear from people in my personal life who will strongly disagree with me and who will wonder why I would be so public with my decision. But I can answer my children about what I had to say to chart the course between Scylla and Charybdis.
He also has no illusions about the political headwinds in Wisconsin. On Wednesday, a new poll showed that Johnson has opened a 6-point lead on Barnes, while the race for governor is basically tied.
“Like Whittaker Chambers,” Wigderson tells me, “I'm afraid I'm joining the losing side.” But, he writes, “what is more conservative than yelling stop?”
Oligarch ups bid for Senate seat
Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel has told the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund he is willing to make a multimillion-dollar investment in the Arizona race on the condition the super PAC finds matching funds, Axios has learned
Oligarch embraces appeasement
Helluva headline in the Wapo: “Musk appeasement of Putin and China stokes fears of new Twitter policies.”
The person most likely to own Twitter next month has proposed solving the war in Ukraine by letting Russia keep territory, won praise from a top Chinese diplomat for suggesting China take control of Taiwan, and welcomed a widely followed celebrity back to Twitter who had just had his Instagram account suspended for threatening Jews — all within the past week.
Exit take: Is 2022, the Year of the Oligarch?
What’s Left for the January 6th Committee?
According to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight, 60 percent of Americans who vote in November will have at least one election denier on the ballot. Of the 552 Republicans running for office, 201 fully deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election. In the House of Representatives, 118 election-denier candidates “have at least a 95 percent chance of winning.” If the committee is serious about saving democracy from a successful re-do of Jan. 6th, perhaps it should use its precious remaining weeks of life to turn its focus on colleagues in the Republican party who appear to be hellbent on destroying democracy, regardless of what Trump does in 2024.