Alex Jones
Alex Jones in court to testify during the Sandy Hook defamation damages trial at Connecticut Superior Court in Waterbury, Connecticut. Image Credit: AP

Who is Alex Jones?

A $1 billion judgment against one man for spreading false conspiracy theories? Who is this man and what has he said?

Alex Jones is a right-wing American radio host who is in the eye of a storm for his statements on the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, stating that it was a hoax perpetrated to curtain Americans’ gun rights. The court has found him guilty of spreading false conspiracy theories about the attack and hopes that the compensation to families would deter others from broadcasting falsehoods.

Jones rose from obscurity to national prominence by promoting allegations against the US government and an alleged power-hungry New World Order.

Sandy Hook was only one of his conspiracy theories. The others included theories that 9/11 was perpetrated by the US government and that the high school student survivors of the Parkland were “crisis actors” paid by the Democratic Party and George Soros.

Jones, based in Austin, Texas, has a national audience, thanks to his radio show, which is broadcast on 100 stations around the US, and his websites Infowars and Prison Planet, where his many claims are presented, in multimedia format, as “news”.

Alex Jones
Since the coronavirus emerged as a public health threat, Jones has been promoting several products and dietary supplements as preventative and treatment measures for the virus – despite a lack of supporting scientific evidence.

Jones blames the federal government for everything from autism to numerous “false flag” operations. His theories, particularly those about the September 11 attacks, brought him a whole new audience and influenced several white supremacists. He claims the US federal government is part of a global conspiracy to disarm and enslave Americans and points to routine National Guard training exercises as evidence.

Since the coronavirus emerged as a public health threat, Jones has been promoting several products and dietary supplements as preventative and treatment measures for the virus – despite a lack of supporting scientific evidence.

Jones has earned the vocal admiration of former President Donald Trump and has claimed to be in contact with administration officials.

Trump has promoted many conspiracy theories advanced by Jones, including claims about former President Barack Obama’s birthplace. Despite all the controversies, Jones enjoys a large viewership with millions subscribing to his YouTube channel.

What are Alex Jones’s main conspiracy theories?

Dubbed ‘king of conspiracy’ and ‘most paranoid man in America’ by US media, some of Alex Jones's favourite topics revolved around national tragedies and terrorist attacks. As a far-right radio broadcaster and internet conspiracy theorist, his uncorroborated utterances through many of his channels and syndicated outlets ranged from the delusional to the ridiculous at best but catered to a captive audience of millions. It was a regular practice for Alex Jones to tag any tragedy of national importance as a false one or as a result of a conspiracy. Here’s a pick of his most notorious allegations:

Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting

Sandy Hook shooting

The case that upset hid unhindered march was the Connecticut jury verdict that Alex Jones must pay at least $965 million in damages to families of victims of the Sandy Hook mass shooting for his false claims.

The case that upset his unhindered march was the Connecticut jury verdict that Alex Jones must pay at least $965 million in damages to families of victims of the Sandy Hook mass shooting for his false claims. In this gruesome incident, twenty children and six staff members were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, New Town, Connecticut in December 2012 by 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Jones claimed for years that the massacre was staged as part of a government plot to take away Americans' guns.

Robert Mueller allegations

Robert Mueller

Robert Mueller was a US lawyer and government official who served as a director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He was also Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice.

Jones's outrageous claims about Muller included he was a paedophile and a monster. “Everyone’s so scared of Mueller, they’d let Mueller rape kids in front of people, which he did,” Jones said, CNBC quoted. He later modified the claim and said, “the word is he doesn’t have sex with kids, he just controls it all. Can you imagine being a monster like that?”

'Governments use weather weapons'

Floods in Texas

Jones relentlessly spread the rumour that the governments are behind the weather-related natural calamities. "… there's weather weapon stuff going on - we had floods in Texas like 15 years ago, killed 30-something people in one night. Turned out it was the Air Force," he said in a 2013 broadcast.

The latest in the long list of such allegations was that the tornadoes in Kentucky and other states in December 2021 were caused by the use of weather weapons, authorised by US President Joe Biden’s government.

'Boston bombings response to gold price fall'

Boston Marathon bombing

Jones suggested the Boston Marathon bombing could be a response to the sudden drop in the price of gold or part of a secret government plot to expand the Transportation Security Administration’s reach to sporting events, according to a report in Scientific American.

The Boston Marathon bombing took place during the annual Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, in which three people were killed and hundreds of people were injured. Kyrgys-US terrorist brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev used two pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the race to trigger the explosion.

Similar false flag allegations also followed the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people, the 2017 Las Vegas shooting in which 59 people were killed, the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida that killed 17 and the 2015 San Bernardino, California, shooting that killed 16.

‘Fluoride in drinking water is making people dumb’

Fluoridated water

Through his Infowar website, Alex Jones claimed that fluoride in community drinking water reduces the IQ of people. However, he had nothing more than a personal claim to prove his point.

“I grew up in Dallas, Texas, drinking sodium fluoridated water. All the scientific studies show my IQ has been reduced by at least 20 points," he said.

Fluoride has been proven to protect teeth from decay and scientific studies have conclusively proved the efficiency of adding fluoride to community drinking water.

'Bill Gates’s is destroying the third world'

Bill Gates

Jones had a different opinion about Microsoft founder Bill Gates’s philanthropy initiatives. He said Gates is sterilising and destroying the third world through vaccinations and compared the latter to ‘modern-day Stalin’.

He also called Gates a “huge eugenicist”, or someone who promotes creating a better human race through selective breeding.

‘Vaccines cause autism’

Jones was an ardent supporter of the claims of controversial British doctor Andrew Wakefield that vaccines are causing autism.

‘Monkeypox outbreak due to COVID-19 vaccines’

Monkeypox

Alex Jones claimed some COVID-19 vaccines are causing monkeypox.

He alleged AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are ‘virus vectors that inject the genome of a chimpanzee into your cells”.

What are Alex Jones’s means of reaching the masses?

Jones got his start in public access broadcasting in Austin, Texas, in the 1990s. From his early days on the air, he spouted conspiracy theories. After he was fired from a local radio station over his wild claims, Jones founded Infowars in 1999 and started broadcasting over the internet and in radio syndication.

Jones surged to fame as a “truther” when he claimed the Bush administration was behind the 9/11 attacks.

Through his radio show, which is broadcast on 100 stations in the US, and his websites Infowars and Prison Planet, Jones spread his amplified conspiracy theories and far-right political ideas. President Donald Trump was also instrumental in promoting many repeatedly disproven conspiracy theories advanced by Jones.

In August 2018, Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Spotify removed podcasts, pages, and channels belonging to Jones and Infowars. In September 2018, Twitter followed suit and banned Jones and Infowars from their platform, as well.

Before these removals, Jones enjoyed a large viewership, with Infowars garnering over 10 million visitors a month and his YouTube channel attracting approximately 2.4 million subscribers and 17 million monthly views.

Though his platform has diminished significantly with the bans, Jones’s videos continue to be shared on social media platforms by fans, spam accounts, and smaller Infowars-owned accounts.

In March 2019, one Infowars-linked YouTube channel had more than 64,000 subscribers before it was removed and in February 2020, Newsweek reported that three YouTube channels that shared Infowars content combined for more than 19,000 subscribers and over 2.5 million views since October 2019.

Infowars doesn’t just disseminate harmful lies; it profits from them. According to a forensic economist called by the parents’ lawyers, Infowars’ parent company raked in $64 million in sales of supplements, survivalist gear and other products last year.

Alex Jones defamation cases
Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News

What is the net worth of Alex Jones?

Alex Jones's net worth is said to be between $135 million and $270 million, forensic economist Bernard Pettingill Jr., who testified against Jones in a defamation case, told reporters earlier. Jones's InfoWars averaged $53.2 million in annual revenue between September 2015 and December 2018, and brought in $64 million in 2021, Pettingill was quoted as saying.

"We know he makes a lot of money," said Pettingill. "He just won't turn over the records."

Pettingill estimates that Jones and Free Speech Systems have combined net assets of between $135m and $270m.

But the talk show host claimed he's out of money and has "only" $2 million to his name.

Around$270million

Alex Jones's net worth

Free Speech Systems had filed for bankruptcy and a trustee had been assigned to probe exactly how much Jones and his various companies were worth, and whether the debts the company claims it has been real.

Forbes identified five homes collectively worth an estimated $7.5 million linked to Jones in Austin. This includes two condos in the downtown-adjacent South Lamar neighbourhood; a luxurious waterfront property overlooking the Colorado river with a private boat dock, sauna and basketball court; a four-bedroom home just outside the city; and an almost 5,500 square feet Spanish villa-style home overlooking Austin’s famous Barton Creek Greenbelt.

All said and done, it is very unlikely Jones has even close to the sum he’s supposed to cough up: He owes $965 million in damages to the families involved in the Connecticut case, and another $49 million to two other Sandy Hook parents in the Texas case, which concluded in August.

Alex Jones may end up in jail

Alex Jones may have been handed down nearly a billion dollars in fines for his outright lies and misinformation regarding the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, but the question on everyone’s mind is whether he would be able to cough up the amount.

In his live stream after the landmark verdict, Jones appeared nonchalant, “Ain’t going to be happening, ain’t no money.”

The alt-right host of Infowars is in no mood to part with his wealth but those in the know say that he has many firms in the US, which could be valued anywhere between $130 million and $270 million.

Given that there may be further action against Jones -- another defamation case later this year and a possible investigation into the role he played in the 6 January attack on the US Capitol, the talk-show host appears to be in deep legal trouble.

Ain’t going to be happening, ain’t no money.

- Alex Jones

Currently, a trustee has been assigned to probe exactly how much Jones and his various companies are worth. If the trustee finds out that Jones’s bankruptcy pleas are not real, he may find it hard to get a reprieve from various courts, where the victims’ families plan to sue him for failure to pay the damages.

Even if his property and assets are confiscated at some point, it appears highly unlikely that he can ever repay close to a billion dollars: He owes $965 million in damages to the families involved in the Connecticut case, and another $49 million to two other Sandy Hook parents in the Texas case, which concluded in August.

Jones’ legal battles are expected to continue. He may end up in jail. One thing is clear: Given his rightwing radio megaphone, Jones’ penchant to spread misinformation will continue as long as he is out and about.