Laura Ingraham (Photo via AFP)
According to JoAnne Sweeny, professor of law at the University of Louisville’s Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, the massive monetary damages awarded to the parents who lost children at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 as part of a civil suit filed against Infowars founder Alex Jones should serve as a warning to several hosts on the Fox News network.
On Friday a jury added $45.2 million in punitive damages to the $4.1 million already awarded to parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis for the trauma Jones inflicted upon them by saying the school masacre was faked.
As Sweeny points out, the atmosphere for suing over blatant lies and accusations has changed and those who traffic in disinformation have been put on notice.
According to the legal expert, “This is not only a large blow to Jones, who has already filed for bankruptcy, but to other conspiracy-theory fomenters who fill their audiences’ heads with stories of the deep state, a stolen election and a child-sex ring in the basement of a pizza restaurant,” with Sweeny adding, “Jones styles himself as a media broadcaster, and the media has historically been given a lot of latitude in publishing statements that are even partially false. That latitude has helped modern partisan news sites like Newsmax and Breitbart to use their platforms to spread outlandish theories with impunity.”
Among those who are already looking at pricey legal repercussions is Fox News in a defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems.
“Fox News is currently being sued for $1.6 billion by Dominion Voting Systems for Fox News’ claim that Dominion voting machines helped to rig the 2020 presidential election. The verdict against Jones should serve as a warning to the network and all the other conspiracy-peddlers out there. Repeating nonsense theories from 4chan or Reddit may not be protected free speech even if you attempt to disguise it as ‘questioning known liars in the media,” she wrote.
“The size of the verdict validates the strategy of going after conspiracy theorists on grounds of defamation. That’s significant because, though it has been argued that some of Jones’ activity crosses the line into outright criminal incitement, it’s much harder to make a case on that score,” she added.
In June, Arizona Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake lost the “Queen of Phoenix drag queens” as a friend in a hilarious public spat. Speaking at the CPAC summit in Dallas on Saturday, Lake revealed that it wasn’t the only friendship the former Obama supporter has lost.
After Lake tweeted, “They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the Drag Queens,” Rick Stevens, who performs as Barbara Seville, called Lake a “complete hypocrite.”
Seville publicly posted to Facebook, “I’ve performed for Kari’s birthday, I’ve performed in her home (with children present,) and I’ve performed for her at some of the seediest bars in Phoenix. She’s come to my parties and has been asked to leave because door people thought she was too intoxicated to remain on premises.”
“Kari was a friend of mine, and I stood by her when she turned to the right,” the post continued, using the past tense to describe the relationship. “I reached out (and she responded repeatedly) when she took a public drubbing.”
Apparently, this wasn’t the only friendship shattered by the election denier’s campaign.
“We have to be willing to be attacked,” Lake said at CPAC. “And we’ve got to be willing to lose a friend or two. Or fifty.”
“I think I’ve lost about 150,” Lake revealed, with a smile.
Watch Kari Lake at CPAC:
Notorious dirty trickster Roger Stone is denying ever texting conspiracy theorist Alex Jones about Jan. 6.
Stone’s denial came after Jones’ attorneys inadvertently gave the entire contents of Jones’ cell phone to attorney Mark Bankston, who won a $49.3 million verdict for two Newtown parents who sued over the InfoWars host lied about the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre being a hoax.
Bankston said there were intimate messages between Stone and Jones and that he will cooperate with requests to obtain the information from federal investigators and the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Writing on Telegram on Friday, Stone noted that Andino Reynal, Jones’ attorney, was an assistant U.S. attorney during the Obama administration, The Daily Beast reported.
“Now do you think his release of Jones text messages was ‘inadvertent’ or a mistake? If I were Jones I would sue this guy for the exact same amount that the jury finds against him,“ Stone said.
On Saturday, writing on Donald Trump’s Truth Social, Stone denied discussing Jan. 6 with Jones.
"There are no text messages between me and Alex Jones regarding January 6, intimate or otherwise,” Stone claimed. “There are no crimes to talk about.”
It should be noted that in 2008, Stone admitted to Jeffrey Toobin that he had lied when he issued a denial during the scandal that got him fired by the 1996 presidential campaign of Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS).
“Stone served as a senior consultant to Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign for President, but that assignment ended in a characteristic conflagration. The National Enquirer, in a story headlined ‘Top Dole Aide Caught in Group-Sex Ring,’ reported that the Stones had apparently run personal ads in a [Florida] magazine called Local Swing Fever and on a Web site that had been set up with Nydia’s credit card. ‘Hot, insatiable lady and her handsome body builder husband, experienced swingers, seek similar couples or exceptional muscular … single men,’ the ad on the Web site stated. The ads sought athletes and military men, while discouraging overweight candidates, and included photographs of the Stones,” Toobin reported for the New Yorker. “At the time, Stone claimed that he had been set up by a ‘very sick individual,’ but he was forced to resign from Dole’s campaign. Stone acknowledged to me that the ads were authentic.”
In March, The New York Times reported on the history between Stone and Jones.
“After December 2012, when Mr. Jones falsely claimed that the Sandy Hook shooting was a government pretext for draconian gun control measures, traffic to his website surged. In 2013, at a gathering in Dallas marking the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Mr. Jones met Roger J. Stone Jr., a Trump friend and adviser shunned by mainstream Republicans,” the newspaper reported. “Mr. Stone, who saw a valuable new constituency for Mr. Trump in Infowars’ disaffected audience, joined the show as a host and brokered Mr. Trump’s December 2015 interview with Mr. Jones. In that interview, broadcast on the Infowars website, Mr. Trump joined Mr. Jones in casting America as a nation besieged by ‘radical Muslims’ and immigrants, and predicted he would ‘get along very well’ with Mr. Putin. He ended by praising Mr. Jones’s ‘amazing reputation.’”
The relationship quickly blossomed.
"The next year Mr. Jones was a V.I.P. invitee to Mr. Trump’s speech accepting the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where the Infowars broadcaster stood on the convention floor with tears streaming down his face as Mr. Trump spoke,” The Times reported. “The Trump era also brought Mr. Jones new scrutiny. In 2017, he dodged a lawsuit by publicly apologizing and removing from Infowars his shows promoting Pizzagate, the lie that top Democrats were trafficking children from Comet Ping Pong, a Washington pizzeria. The conspiracy theory inspired a gunman to enter the restaurant and fire a rifle inside.”
The relationship is now being explored by the Jan. 6 select committee, which subpoenaed Stone and Jones in November.
“Roger Stone was reportedly in Washington on January 5th and 6th, spoke at rallies on January 5th, and was slated to speak at the January 6th rally at the Ellipse that directly preceded the violent attack on the Capitol,” the select committee said. “Before traveling to Washington, Mr. Stone promoted his attendance at the rallies and solicited support to pay for security through the website stopthesteal.org. While in Washington, Mr. Stone reportedly used members of the Oath Keepers as personal security guards, at least one of whom has been indicted for his involvement in the attack on the Capitol. Mr. Stone has made remarks that he was planning to “lead a march to the Capitol” from the Ellipse rally.
"Alex Jones reportedly helped organize the rally at the Ellipse on January 6th that immediately preceded the attack on the Capitol, including by facilitating a donation to provide what he described as ‘eighty percent’ of the funding. Mr. Jones spoke at the January 5th rally on Freedom Plaza that was sponsored by the Eighty Percent Coalition,” the select committee said. “Mr. Jones has stated that he was told by the White House that he was to lead a march from the January 6th Ellipse rally to the Capitol, where President Trump would meet the group and speak. Mr. Jones has repeatedly promoted unsupported allegations of election fraud, including encouraging individuals to attend the Ellipse rally on January 6th and implying he had knowledge about the plans of the former President with respect to the rally.”
On Friday, Stone described Jones as a “loyal friend.”
CONTINUE READING Show less
Donald Trump could be reclaiming his grip on the Republican Party, according a straw poll conducted at CPAC in Dallas.
“Trump, who’s repeatedly teased making another presidential run in 2024 to try and return to the White House, captured 69.1% of ballots cast in the anonymous online straw poll, according to results announced by CPAC on Saturday,” Fox News reported Saturday. “The support for the former president, who remains the most popular and influential politician in the Republican Party and continues to play a kingmaker’s role in GOP primaries, is up from his 59% showing in the anonymous online straw poll at the CPAC gathering in Orlando, Florida in February. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came in second on the 2024 presidential nomination question, at 23.7%, down from his 28% showing at CPAC in Orlando five months ago.”
If Trump does not run, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis leads the pack at 64%. Donald Trump, Jr. comes in at 28% despite having no relevant experience and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz comes in at 6%.
Mike Pence had the most embarrassing showing in the straw poll.
“Pence at 0.3% support for 2024,” Isaac Arnsdorf of The Washington Post reported.“ And if Trump isn’t on the ballot, Pence is still at 0.3% in CPAC straw poll.”
Jim McLaughlin, who conducted the straw poll, claims it is “the ultimate barometer of what’s going on in the conservative movement.”
The poll showed Donald Trump with a 99% approval rating, which journalist Steven Monacelli described as a “Banana-Republic approval rating.”