Far-right disinformation peddler Alex Jones was hit with a total $49.3 million verdict for pushing the lie on InfoWars that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax, but received little pity over the verdict.
While Jones’ team said it will appeal, the Houston Chronicle editorial board urged appellate judges to “let this verdict stand and let it send a message.”
“Will it be enough to truly bankrupt Jones?” the editorial board wondered. “That would deliver the justice he deserves, doing everything possible to stop him from peddling his painful garbage. The court system should make sure this judgment stands and we hope other jurors in the upcoming cases continue to punish Jones where he feels it most: his wallet. The broader verdict of the American public, meanwhile, should make sure that not only does he pay for the lies of his past but that he cannot profit off new ones in the future by rejecting baseless conspiracy theories as entertainment, and the cruel character assassination of grieving parents as free speech.”
The verdict also generated a great deal of discussion online.
Elizabeth Williamson, author of the book Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth, tweeted “This jury looking to shut Alex Jones’s mouth with that verdict. $45.2 million.”
“Take all of Alex Jones’ money please. Every single penny,” wrote former Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “It will bring no closure for Sandy Hook families, but it may give the next idiot a reason to pause before they start harassing and abusing the families of murdered children.
Former Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) noted the back cover of Jones’ new book features Donald Trump claiming Jones’ reputation is “amazing.”
“A jury of his peers disagrees. Unanimously,” Hurd wrote. “To the tune of $50 million.”
Colorado state Rep. Steven Woodrow (D) wrote, “A jury awarding $45 million against Alex Jones for spreading lies about dead children while Republicans express their pride in him perfectly summarizes where we are politically as a country.”
Rex Huppke, USA Today columnist, wrote “The best thing about Alex Jones having to pay $50 million to a Sandy Hook family is there are still two more lawsuits in which he has already been found liable and he will soon be financially ground to dust. Maybe he can get a job working the breakfast buffet at Mar-a-Lago.”
Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institute praised the jury’s award.
“These huge jury awards against #AlexJones are an extremely important victory for truth and justice, and for the US legal system,” he wrote. “Cruel, deliberate, greedy and socially destructive disinformation can and will be punished.”
“Speech is free, but lies will cost you, Alex Jones,” wrote former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade. “And cruel lies will cost you punitive damages. A strike back against disinformation.”
“This is a significant verdict,” wrote former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. “The amount of punitive damages may be reduced on appeal, but Alex Jones will end up paying a lot of money regardless.”
“No matter the reduction, there are more trials in tougher states and this jury is clearly making the call that Alex Jones a heinous grifter,” wrote journalist Kara Swisher.
Political satirist Jeremy Newberger said, “Today Alex Jones did the opposite of winning the lottery.”
“Good thing Alex Jones only lied about that one thing,” wrote Washington Post national correspondent Philip Bump.