Alex Jones Now Slightly More Bankrupt Than Usual
Alex Jones's InfoWars has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, along with two of his other companies, IWHealth and Prison Planet TV, in the wake of several defamation lawsuits related to his Sandy Hook rhetoric, which he lost after refusing to turn over documents and financial information to the court.
For years, Jones has insisted that the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that took the lives of 20 children was a "false flag," that the families who lost their children were "crisis actors," and that this was all a hoax organized by people in the "deep state" as an excuse to take everyone's guns away so that they can't exercise their pretend constitutional right to overthrow the government.
Since then, 285 people have died in school shootings, almost no gun control laws have been passed, and some of the kinds of people who listen to Alex Jones (though to be fair, some think he is "controlled opposition") did in fact try to overthrow the government. However, because that is not so much a constitutional right as it is "definitely illegal," most of those people are now in prison or awaiting trial.
It's almost as if the US government has ways of preventing people from overthrowing it other than faking school shootings.
Jones told these lies because they were what his audience wanted to hear, and as a result, those people spent years harassing and threatening the families of Sandy Hook victims, to the point where the parents of victim Noah Pozner had to move 10 times. Moving costs money. His lies cost these people God knows how much money, and they deserve to get some of it back.
Unfortunately for us, bankruptcy doesn't necessarily mean going out of business. Sbarro has declared bankruptcy twice and yet somehow survives, selling pizza that tastes like a tin can in every mall and airport in existence. More than likely, this is just Jones trying to wriggle out of having to pay out all the lawsuits at once.
Chapter 11 filings allow a business to keep operating while working on a turnaround plan and pause pending civil litigation.
Lawyers set up a trust that would pay people suing the companies, and Jones handed over his equity in the entities to the trust. The units in bankruptcy “have no purpose other than to hold assets which may be used by other entities” and their only liabilities are the litigation claims, according to court papers. Free Speech Systems LLC, the ultimate parent company of Infowars, which Jones still owns, isn’t part of the bankruptcy filing.
By establishing a trust to settle legal claims in bankruptcy, Jones’s companies are following a controversial playbook used by other corporations facing significant lawsuits. Companies including opioid maker Purdue Pharma LP and youth organization Boy Scouts of America have sought Chapter 11 protection to settle thousands of cases and streamline payouts to victims claiming harm.
That being said, it hardly means the lawsuits weren't worth it. The thing is, the Sandy Hook families have the right idea. Even if they are unable to get their money out of him right away, they've demonstrated that there can in fact be consequences for those who enrich themselves by making up harmful lies about people. That's a big deal.
In 1981, comedy legend Carol Burnett successfully sued the National Enquirer for defamation after it implied she was drunkenly yelling at Henry Kissinger at a restaurant. While no one would blame her if that had happened, it simply wasn't true — and Burnett had long talked about her family's trouble with alcoholism. When a jury awarded her $1.6 million (later reduced to $200,000 by an appeals court), the New York Timesreported that she said:
"If they'd given me $1 plus car fare, I'd have been happy, because it was the principle.'' ''They didn't give a darn about my rights as a human being,'' she continued. ''I didn't do a thing to The National Enquirer; they did it to themselves.''
It was the principle. For the most part, celebrities don't bother to actually sue when tabloids or internet outlets write slanderous things about them that are untrue, even when actual malice is involved, for a variety of reasons. (The Church of Scientology, however, will threaten to sue you just for making fun of them.) It's inconvenient, they rarely actually end up with a major settlement, and often getting antagonistic with the press is not worth it to them.
But we're coming to a point now where those who are being defamed or slandered are not the only ones harmed by disinformation. We all are. The same people going around accusing celebrities of eating babies are also saying vaccines have satanic microchips in them. The people who say school shootings are false flags are the same people who tried to overthrow the government on January 6 because they think Joe Biden stole the election.
All of this shit is connected, so the more people like the Sandy Hook families hack away at Jones's empire, the more we disincentivize disinformation, the better off we will all be.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse