Under ordinary circumstances, I would never do this, but I feel I have no choice but to say a few words about Alex Jones, who is now America’s most thoroughly disgraced right-wing grifter and — please excuse the language — scumbag.
The InfoWars host is not nearly as important a fake conspiracy theorist as say, Donald Trump, the former Grifter in Chief, or Tucker Carlson, who (I’m guessing) doesn’t believe a single provocative word he says, or even Laura Ingraham or Steve Bannon.
But Jones is an avowed QAnon-level conspiracy theorist, whose Infowars broadcasts are all in, for instance, on the Democratic pedophile conspiracy hoax, and who has a long history of promoting lies — he’s a longtime COVID anti-vaxxer, of course — for profit, money reportedly running into many tens of millions of dollars, even as Jones keeps claiming bankruptcy. But Jones seems to have specialized in suggesting the worst of the many mass shootings in America had been staged. You know, like the moon landing. That’s when he isn’t ranting about gay frogs.
In Jones’ latest trial, he was forced to admit the Sandy Hook massacre was “100% real” — as every sane person had to know — and that he should never have claimed that the school shooting was a “false flag” operation, with “crisis actors” pretending to be grieving parents of children who didn’t really exist. The fakery was supposedly in the would-be cause of governmental gun grabbing and the trashing of the Second Amendment.
In the Austin trial, Jones was caught lying by the prosecutor, Mark Bankston, who asked Jones if he actually understood what perjury means, and by one of the parents who lost a child at Sandy Hook, who asked him directly, “Do you think I’m an actor?” Jones admitted he didn’t. It seems that even someone like Jones can be shamed by a real parent of a real child lost in another senseless shooting — or maybe, and this is my guess, it was Jones’ regret that was faked.
In any case, Jones had to admit it was all a fraud, even though another host on Infowars was busily calling Jones’ trial “rigged” and blasting out a video of the judge in flames.
But Jones was hit with a $4 million verdict for compensatory damages to the parents of a Sandy Hook victim. And that was just the beginning. The jury came back the next day to award them $45.2 million in punitive damages. Given the “living hell,” as one parent put it, that Jones put the Sandy Hook parents through, $452 million would have been better — but still not enough. The punitive awards are punishment and a warning. And while the $45.2 million, with more Sandy Hook trials to come, could bury Jones, it won’t snuff out the conspiracy theorists. Thanks to the darker places on the internet, and to the millions who visit them, this is never going way.
Still, it was a great moment for Sandy Hook parents — there are more trials coming — and for the injured parties in other school shootings. And, at minimum, the jury awards and Jones’ testimony did shine a light on the worst of the hoaxes and the damage they cause.
When Jones has to admit under oath that he’s a giant fraud, he’s basically saying under oath that a long list of his conspiracy theorist pals are also fraudulent.
Most in the MAGA community, including Trump himself, had little to nothing to say about Jones, although Marjorie Taylor Greene — she of Jewish space laser infamy — did tweet support for him for his testimony trying to link the Clintons with Jeffrey Epstein. Of course she did.
And it was Trump, of course, who years after Jones’ lies about Sandy Hook, told the renowned fabulist, “Your reputation is amazing.”
Yes, he did. Just as he once told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
And guess what Jones said back to Trump in that infamous 2015 radio interview: “What you’re doing is epic. It’s George Washington level.”
What makes this Jones humiliation especially satisfying is that the trial was happening at the same time that Big Lie conspiracist — or maybe she’s a Big Lie dupe — Tina Peters was paying $255,000 for a recount of her decisive loss in the GOP primary race to be the party’s secretary of state nominee.
In the recount of a race the Mesa County clerk lost by 88,000 votes, she picked up 13 votes. That’s it. And the 13 votes were coincidentally the exact number picked up by Pam Anderson, the actual winner. Peters is still claiming fraud — what else? — but you’d have to hope that at least some believers might now have doubts. I mean, do you really think the Chinese had any interest in Tina Peters or even know who she is?
You’d also think that at least some of the suckers who contributed as much as $500,000 to Peters after her loss were, at minimum, embarrassed by their naïveté. Maybe not, but the rest of the country had to notice what was happening in Austin and in Colorado.
I’ve got a feeling that Peters’ coming days in court on 10 election-related charges, seven of them felonies, might not turn out any better for her than this latest day in court did for Jones.
I’m not suggesting that this is a new day. In the recent Arizona primary election, Republican Big Lie proponents swept the major offices. People are keeping score in how Trump-backed candidates do in the primaries, and he’s definitely holding his own.
Political grifters have a long history in America, dating back at least to Mark Twain’s famous line in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in which he has the fraudulent King telling the fraudulent Duke, “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”
Well, it wasn’t a big enough majority for Peters or for Jones. That’s progress. And now we’re left to wonder where that leaves the House January 6 select committee, which has laid out, in one hearing after another, compelling evidence that Trump’s Big Lie was an even bigger lie than we knew.
It now looks as if the hearings, which are scheduled to resume in September, have put enough heat on Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice to do a genuine inquiry into Trump’s more-than-obvious attempt to steal the 2020 election, not to mention to incite a riot at the nation’s Capitol, putting Mike Pence and others in real danger and, well, I could go on. And on.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, it seems that there’s an excellent chance a grand jury will indict Trump for various crimes —- it seems they haven’t forgotten Trump’s coercive phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, asking him to “find” 11,000 votes — against democracy.
Trump is, of course, a serial liar. The Washington Post, which kept score, put the number of lies during his four years as president as 30,573. His path to the presidency began with his full commitment to the Obama birther conspiracy. That was also a Big Lie but not as big as the one we’ve been dealing with since Trump began scheming to overturn his 2020 defeat.
The cynical view — which, sadly, may prove to be true — is that Trump will never have to pay for his misdeeds. But let’s hope, at least, that there comes a day when a prosecutor gets to ask Trump if he knows what perjury is.
Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow
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