Alex Jones was embraced by Donald Trump and Joe Rogan a couple of years after the Sandy Hook lie

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In the roughly 10 years since he declared the worst elementary school shooting in U.S. history to be a “huge hoax,” Infowars founder Alex Jones has been condemned and de-platformed tech giants like Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify and took major financial hits. The latest came Thursday, when a jury decided Jones must pay $4.1 million in damages To the parents of the 6-year-old boy who died in the Sandy Hook mass shooting, after he created “living hellfor the family.

But while Jones’ false claims and rants have catapulted him into the national political dialogue, his rise has arguably been boosted by the fact that Donald Trump and Joe Rogan have embraced Jones and endorsed his ideas to millions of people online in recent years.

in 2015 Jones’ interview with Trump served as a window into some of the future president’s conversations at his rallies.

“Your reputation is amazing,” Trump told Jones at the time.

Jones in 2020 appearing on The Joe Rogan Experience allowed him to spread false claims about the coronavirus vaccination on Spotify, where he was banned. A clip shared widely Twitter This week shows how Rogan, whose show has an estimated 11 million viewers per episode, has previously defended Jones as “fun” and has entertainment value.

– What is he doing so terrible? Rogan asked. “It’s fun!”

Representatives for Trump and Rogan did not immediately respond to requests for comment early Friday.

Alex Jones must pay $4.1 million to Sandy Hook parents

Thursday’s verdict by an Austin jury means Jones can pay significantly less than the $150 million sought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, over remarks made after the 2012 shooting. of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Newtown, USA, 26 people died, 20 of them young children. It remains to be seen how much the 48-year-old Jones may be ordered to pay. A jury is expected to return Friday to assess that amount, which could be significantly higher.

August 4 Judge Maya Guerra Gamble read the Austin jury’s decision awarding Alex Jones $4.1 million. size fine to Sandy Hook parents. (Video: Travis County 459th Circuit Court)

Shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting, Jones, who had previously promoted conspiracy theories about the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks, falsely claimed that “no one died” at the school and that the attack was “organized” and “manufactured” by gun control advocates. The remarks not only outraged the grieving parents, but also led to death threats and abuse from strangers. After Heslin told jurors this week that the false claims had made his life a “living hell,” Jones told the family in court that the shooting was “100 percent real.”

“Neil and Scarlett are thrilled with the outcome and look forward to using Mr. Jones’ money,” the parents’ attorney, Mark Bankston, told The Washington Post on Thursday. “With punitive damages still to be decided and numerous additional defamation lawsuits pending, it is clear that Mr. Jones’ time on the American stage is finally coming to an end.”

His presence on the national stage increased when Trump, who became the front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, agreed to be interviewed on Infowars. Trump and Jones said December 2015 interview hosted by Trump confidant Roger Stone—a year later, Jones and Stone will be called in 2021 January 6 House Committee to Investigate Rebellion in U.S. Capitol.

“I’m not going to let you down,” Trump told the Infowars founder.

Jones has admitted an impression he appeared to make on Trump, taking credit for introducing the then-candidate to the idea that members of the media were his “enemy.”

“It’s surreal to talk about issues here on the air and then, word for word, two days later to hear Trump say it,” Jones told his audience at the time.

The connection between Trump and Jones was documented “United States conspiracyin 2020 special on PBS’ Frontline. One of the lies Jones peddled on his show was that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama founded the Islamic State. Trump repeated Jones’ false claims about Clinton and Obama at one of the Republican candidates’ rallies before the 2016 presidential election, according to PBS. In an interview with Fox News, Trump repeated another of Jones’ lies: that the father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) was related with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Former Infowars staffers told Frontline that Trump’s apparent appropriation of Jones’ false claims as his own was “Alex’s irresistible power trip.”

“Someone in the mainstream — Trump — using words that Jones has been using for decades, I think that’s what got Jones going and it changed him as a person,” said former Infowars video editor Josh Owens.

Trump’s support boosted Jones into the national conversation, as it did when Fox News hosted Tucker Carlson congratulated Jones is “one of the most popular journalists on the right.” Joe Walsh, a former GOP congressman from Illinois who has since become a vocal critic of Trump and his Republican allies. Twitter this week as “there really is no difference between Alex Jones and Donald Trump. None.”

But the raised profile also came at a cost to Jones. in 2018 Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify were among the platforms that banned all content from Jones and Infowars for violating hate speech guidelines. After the 2019 After Roku dropped Infowars, Jones took to his Instagram account to share a cryptic post about a tweet from Infowars reporter Owen Shroyer that included an artistic banner with Jones’ face looking furious.

“Beat me now and I’ll only get more powerful,” Shroyer wrote.

Roku gave Infowars a platform to reach millions. After hours of outrage, he backed down.

In the world of podcasting, Rogan is one of the most important personalities. Rogan, a lightning rod for controversy and a huge fan base, 2020. agreed with Spotify for 100 million USD for your podcast library.

So when Rogan welcomed Jones to his show in 2020 October monthThe Infowars host listed a number of false coronavirus safety measures, such as vaccination and masking, climate science and the polio vaccine. During the three-hour show, Rogan also addressed Jones’ lies regarding the Sandy Hook shooting.

“We all know you [messed] some things right? Rogan told Jones in 2020, specifically mentioning Sandy Hook. “But you did so many things right. That’s why I keep talking to you about these things, that’s why I defend you, and that’s why I think censoring you is…dangerous.

In response to the backlash that followed, Rogan defended Jones on his show. Rogan said Instagram that he fact-checked “every crazy thing he said” and that “they were all fact-checked.”

“I knew people would criticize the content of the podcast without even listening, and I was right,” Rogan wrote. “He said a lot of crazy but accurate things, and I’ve been saying that about him for years.

While Spotify banned Jones and Infowars from its platforms, company executives also defended the order, in an internal email. writing in the letter how “it’s important to have diverse voices and perspectives on our platform.” BuzzFeed News. Rogan in 2022 was initially criticized for the surrounding controversies misinformation about the coronavirus and many previous instances where the host used the n-word.

A spokesperson for Spotify did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rogan’s supporters also took a strong interest in Jones. Enabled Reddit, users of a subreddit devoted to Rogan flooded the forum with messages about Jones and clippings from the defamation lawsuit. While some on Reddit are tired of reading about Rogan’s one-time guest appearance, others can’t get enough.

“Alex Jones spits FACTS!” wrote one supporter.

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