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Alex Jones’s viewership and Infowars revenue surged as Jones alleged Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — Infowars revenue and website viewership surged after Alex Jones alleged on his show in 2014 that the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was a hoax, according to documents presented to a jury on Thursday.

Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems, are on trial in Connecticut in a lawsuit brought by an FBI agent who responded to the shooting and relatives of eight of the 20 first graders and six educators killed in the of the December 2012 massacre in Newtown. They say Jones inflicted emotional and psychological damage on them and they were threatened and harassed by Jones supporters.

Jones has already been convicted of spreading the myth that the shooting never happened and Waterbury’s six-member jury will decide how much he and his company should pay plaintiffs in damages. The trial began on Tuesday and is expected to last a month.

Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the families, showed internal Infowars documents detailing revenue and spikes in website visits at the time of a September 24, 2014 article on the Infowars website that said no one had died at Sandy Hook and Jones discussing the article on his show the next day.

The families’ lawsuit alleges Jones doctored lies to increase his viewership and sales of nutritional supplements, clothing and other merchandise he sells on the Infowars website and Hawks on his web show. Jones and guests on his show said the shooting was staged with crisis actors as part of gun control efforts.

The earnings and web hearing discussion took place on Thursday as Mattei spent a second day interviewing Brittany Paz, a Connecticut attorney hired by Jones to testify about the operations of his companies.

Documents showed that daily revenue from Infowars’ online store rose from $48,000 on September 24 to over $230,000 on September 25. 24, the documents showed.

Paz was also asked about Infowars videos that show Jones and his guests using lies and misinformation to claim the massacre was staged. She acknowledged that much of what was said was not true.

In the videos, Jones says the school shooting was a “giant hoax” and “the fakest thing since the $3 bill.” He said there was aerial footage of student actors running in and out of the school while the footage was actually of a nearby fire station where people gathered after the shooting. He also claimed that CNN used green screens in fake interviews with people in Sandy Hook.

Mattei then showed an email from a company executive showing internal conflict within Infowars over continued discussions of conspiracy theories surrounding the school shooting.

“The Sandy Hook thing is killing us,” wrote Infowars editor Paul Watson, asking why the company was risking its reputation and audience by harassing parents of deceased children.

Last month, a jury in Texas awarded the parents of one of the slain Sandy Hook children nearly $50 million in a similar lawsuit against Jones and his company.

Paz acknowledged that Infowars was spreading disinformation. She also acknowledged that Jones failed to check the credentials of a guest who repeatedly appeared on her show – a conspiracy theorist who claimed to be a school security expert who had investigated the 1999 massacre at Columbine High. School in Colorado — even as Jones bragged about his credentials and Infowars received emails questioning the guest’s credibility.

Paz said she believes Jones and his companies have made at least $100 million in the decade since the massacre and that Jones is now worth millions of dollars.

Website traffic data reports maintained by Infowars employees and presented during the trial also show that in 2016, his show aired on 150 affiliated radio stations and that the Infowars website recorded 40 million page views per month.

Mattei showed Paz internal Infowars emails between employees sharing Google Analytics data. Paz testified earlier that Infowars employees told him they did not regularly use Google Analytics to track website traffic data. After showing him the emails, Mattei asked if it was still his testimony that Infowars did not regularly use Google Analytics.

“I don’t know at this point,” she said.

Jones now says he believes the shooting took place, but he insists his comments were protected by the right to free speech, which he cannot contest at trial as he has already been found liable for damages.

See: Infowars host Alex Jones admits 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut was not a hoax but ‘100% real’

Also: Alex Jones created a ‘living hell’ of bullying and death threats, Sandy Hook School parents testify

The families say the emotional and psychological harm they suffered was deep and persistent. Relatives say they faced harassment on social media, death threats, strangers filming them and their children, and the surreal pain of learning they were faking their loss.

Jones’ attorney Norman Pattis said in his opening statement on Tuesday that any damage should be minimal and claimed the families are exaggerating the harm they say they have suffered.

On his Infowars show on Thursday, Jones again called the proceedings in Connecticut a “show trial.”

The judge “must now proceed with this fraud,” he said. “But in the legal community, people just say, ‘My God, this is something worthy of Venezuela. It’s unbelievable.’ ”