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Lawsuits in the news remind us of our fact-check of a 2016 claim that Austin conspiracy theorist Alex Jones once said the 20-plus victims of a tragic massacre at a Connecticut school were child actors and that no one was killed there.
As reported by Jonathan Tilove of the Austin American-Statesman, parents of children killed in the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., have filed suit in Texas against Jones and his project, InfoWars, for suggesting the death of their children was a "hoax."
To the contrary, that news story quotes Jones telling viewers of his online program this week: "The good news is these lawsuits are very frivolous and have huge problems." Read the American-Statesman’s full story here.
The story of the lawsuits led us to remember that in August 2016, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton brought up Jones and InfoWars and declared that Jones had "even said, and this really just is so disgusting, he even said the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there. I don’t know what happens in somebody’s mind or how dark their heart must be to say things like that."
The same day, Jones disputed Clinton’s statement, telling viewers that Clinton "lied, not only to the U.S. but the world... that I say that no children died at Sandy Hook and they were all actors. I’ve never said any of those things." A moment later, Jones went on: "They can’t find anywhere where I have said that I know the kids killed at Sandy Hook were actors or that it didn’t happen" and furthermore, he said, he’s been criticized by conspiracy theorists who maintain the Sandy Hook events were fake--"because I don’t buy into that."
We were curious who was right, so we put Clinton’s statement to the Texas Truth-O-Meter.
Starting from a story in The New Yorker magazine, we zeroed in on posted video of Jones telling a caller to his program in January 2015 that in his view, "Sandy Hook is a synthetic completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured. I couldn’t believe it at first. I knew they had actors there, clearly, but I thought they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are, that they clearly used actors. I mean they even ended up using photos of kids killed in mass shootings here in a fake mass shooting in Turkey -- so yeah, or Pakistan. The sky is now the limit."
We also found that in another episode, in December 2014, Jones called the shootings "a giant hoax."
We rated Clinton’s claim True.
News story, "Alex Jones facing four lawsuits calling him to account for 'fake news,'" Austin American-Statesman, April 17, 2018
Transcript, "Hillary Clinton’s Speech on Donald Trump and the GOP’s ‘Radical Fringe,’" Time magazine, Aug. 25, 2016
Truth-O-Meter stories, "Hillary Clinton correct that Austin's Alex Jones said no one died at Sandy Hook Elementary," PolitiFact Texas, Sept. 1, 2016; "PolitiFact: Clinton’s claim about Alex Jones rings true," American-Statesman, Sept. 3, 2016