Alex Jones will have to turn over his tax returns, business plans, and marketing data in a lawsuit with families of Sandy Hook victims, who say he pushed conspiracy theories about the school shooting to get rich.
Six families of children and teachers killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School sued Jones and associates of his site Infowars last year, accusing him of defamation, invasion of privacy, and infliction of emotional distress. The families argue that Jones never believed the mass shooting was a hoax, but he promoted conspiracies online and on his radio show in order to make a profit.
Infowars and Jones’ conspiracies are motivated by a desire to convince people to buy supplements, survival gear, and male-enhancement products, not inform or even entertain people, their lawsuit’s complaint said.
“Rather, [Jones and his associates] deliberately stoke social anxiety and political discord in their listeners, because distrust in government and cultural tribalism motivate those listeners to buy their products.”
With a judge’s order this week, Jones will have to recount how he made his money as well as provide all documents, emails, and other communication about topics including Sandy Hook, mass shootings, and Infowars as a whole. Through the lawsuit’s discovery process, he’ll have to provide his tax returns, business and marketing plans, contracts, and business relationships, as well as data and analytics related to the revenue on online platforms.
The victims’ families say that information will prove that Jones didn’t believe in his own hoaxes, and intentionally exploited the families and their tragedy to make millions of dollars.
“The Jones defendants and their co-conspirators’ conduct is based on a simple motive: greed. The defendants’ business model is based on their fabrication, propagation, and amplification of conspiracy-minded falsehoods like those about Sandy Hook,” their complaint said. “It is a very lucrative business model.”
Attorneys for Jones have dismissed the families’ requests for information as a “fishing expedition,” but this week, a judge agreed it was relevant to the lawsuit. The victims’ families defended their right to Jones’ business materials.
“[His attorneys] know just how damaging it will be to reveal that their revenue stream is from product sales, their business plan is to sell products, and their web marketing data confirms that is what they do every day,” a court filing said.
In the past, Jones’ attorneys have defended his work as “performance art” and said he was playing a character. As such, his statements and online stories should be protected by free speech, they’ve said.
The Sandy Hook families, in their court filing, pointed to what Jones said in an Infowars video in April 2017.
“They’ve got articles out today that say I’m fake, all of this other crap. Total bull,” Jones said. “The media is deceiving everywhere. I 110% believe what I stand for.”