WATERBURY, Conn. — Revenue and viewership for the Infowars website surged during one of Alex Jones’ 2014 broadcasts when he said 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 the Sandy Hook families for spreading lies. Jones has already been found liable for the damages caused to the families, and the six-member jury will decide how much he and his company should pay the families.
The December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut killed 20 first graders and six educators.
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. The next day, Jones spoke about the article on his show.
Earnings at online store Infowars, which sells nutritional supplements, clothing and other items, jumped from $48,000 on Sept. 24 to more than $230,000 on Sept. 25, the documents show. The total number of user sessions on the Infowars website, meanwhile, fell from around 543,000 on September 23 to around 1 million on September 24, according to the documents.
The data was part of the families’ case claiming that Jones spread lies about the shooting and profited from it, while causing the families emotional distress. An FBI agent who responded to the school shooting and relatives of eight children and adults killed in the massacre are part of the lawsuit against Jones.
Last month, a jury in Texas awarded the parents of another slain Sandy Hook child nearly $50 million in a similar lawsuit against Jones and his company.
Mattei on Thursday interviewed Brittany Paz, a Connecticut attorney hired by Jones to testify about his businesses, financial analysis and website documents. He also asked her about company emails and Infowars videos that show Jones and a guest claiming the massacre was staged.
Mattei, quoting Jones, said: “‘Guys, they staged Aurora, they staged Sandy Hook, the evidence is overwhelming.’ Do you remember that?”
“I remember that, yes,” Paz replied.
On Wednesday, Paz acknowledged that Jones’ show, website and social media platforms had been spreading lies about the school shooting.
Paz also said Jones failed to verify the credentials of a guest on his show in 2014 – a conspiracy theorist who claimed to be a school safety expert who investigated the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado. – as Jones bragged about his credentials.
Website traffic data reports maintained by Infowars employees and presented during the trial also show that Jones’ viewership skyrocketed in the years following the shooting. In 2016, his show aired on 150 affiliate radio stations and the Infowars website had 40 million monthly page views.
Paz testified that she believed Jones and his companies had made at least $100 million in the decade since the massacre, and that Jones is now worth millions of dollars. But she could not answer several questions asked by Mattei about Jones’ activities, saying she had not received certain documents from the companies and could not recall other information.
Mattei showed Paz internal Infowars emails between employees sharing Google Analytics data. Paz testified Wednesday 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.
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. He and guests on his show said the shooting was staged with crisis actors as part of gun control efforts.
Jones, however, now says he believes the shooting took place, but he insists his comments were protected by the right to free speech, which he cannot dispute at trial as he has already been found liable for the damages.
Judges in the Connecticut and Texas cases found Jones liable without trial, as penalties for what they called his repeated failures to turn over documents to the families’ attorneys.
On his Infowars show on Thursday, Jones called the proceedings in Connecticut a “show trial” and said he expects to be disciplined by Judge Barbara Bellis when he shows up in the courtroom on next week.
“She must now commit this fraud,” he said. “But in the legal community, people just say, ‘My God, this is something worthy of Venezuela. This is unbelievable.'”
The families say the emotional and psychological harm 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.
“At what point do we see him as an eccentric in the town square, someone we can walk away from if we choose to?” Pattis asked.