Infowars, the misinformation platform owned by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, has filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid multiple defamation lawsuits.
Jones has faced a torrent of lawsuits from families of those killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Jones claimed for years that the shooting was staged by the government to restrict gun ownership. Twenty children and six school employees were murdered in the massacre.
Jones called the shooting a “hoax,” said it was a “false flag” operation, and derided the victims and their families as “crisis actors.” As lawsuits against him mounted, he eventually admitted the shooting was real — but not before several families say they faced harassment from Jones’ conservative, conspiracy theorist followers online and in the media.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy will allow Jones to put a hold on civil cases against Infowars and let the company remain operational — along with subsidiaries like Infowars Health and Prison Planet TV — as he plans the companies' next phase. It’s anyone’s guess what grift Jones may have in store next.
There’d been signs for months bankruptcy was on the horizon for Infowars. Jones defied multiple court orders requiring him to appear for depositions related to the defamation cases against him. He also offered a $120,000 settlement to more than a dozen plaintiffs spread across three cases, including families of Sandy Hook victims who were killed.
Speaking with the website Law & Crime in March, Jones’ lawyer struck a pitiful tone when discussing the settlement and basically pleaded publicly for the families to accept it.
“It’s time for the litigation to end,” the attorney, Norm Pattis, wrote in an email to Law & Crime. “The shooting took place almost 10 years ago.”
But the Sandy Hook families weren’t nearly as eager to let Jones off easy and issued a scathing rejection through their attorneys. The settlement offer was a “transparent and desperate attempt by Alex Jones to escape a public reckoning under oath with his deceitful, profit-driven campaign against the plaintiffs,” lawyers for the families said at the time.
News of Jones’ bankruptcy comes during a period when the conservative movement is awash in conspiratorial rhetoric. Well-known lawmakers in the GOP have used their platforms to push baseless lies connected to the racist QAnon conspiracy theory, and the party is wholly consumed by conspiracy theories alleging former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election.
It’s unlikely Jones’ latest filing deters other conservatives to suspend their own disinformation campaigns, but going forward, Infowars’ fate shows them a glaring example of where their lies might lead.