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Suggesting connections between right-wing hate groups and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton brought up talk-show host Alex Jones, a Texas-based pro-Trump conspiracy theorist who runs InfoWars.com.
Jones, Clinton declared Aug. 25, 2016, "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 of his Austin-based program 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.
First, this background: 20 children and six adults died at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Dec. 14, 2012, at the hands of gun-carrying Adam Lanza, 20. Lanza had killed his mother at home before the school shooting, and then killed himself at the school as officers closed in.
The story said Jones incidentally had Trump on his program hours before the San Bernardino, Calif., shootings and Jones then "praised Trump, claiming that ninety per cent of his listeners were Trump supporters, and Trump had returned the favor, saying, ‘Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down,’" the story said, going on to say Jones had historically insisted various national tragedies were inside jobs and, reporter William Finnegan wrote, "Jones believes that no one was actually hurt at Sandy Hook — those were actors."
An embedded link in the story points to a video snippet likely excerpted, we determined, from the second hour of Jones’ Jan. 13, 2015 show in which Jones was asked by a caller if he thinks that after Sandy Hook, there’s a "new level of sophistication" to authorities planting "flimsy evidence" on sites that "get everybody talking, going in the wrong direction" after incidents.
"Yeah, when you’re trying to decipher cloak and dagger dirty tricks, it’s pretty hard to do. It’s just that then you learn that they were funded by western funding. Then you learn that it was the same (inaudible) connection, underwear bomber. Then those are big red flags that they were patsy provocateurs. The classic MO has been followed.
"And then yeah, it kind of becomes a red herring to say the whole thing was staged--because they have staged events before. But then you learn the school had been closed and reopened, and you’ve got video of the kids going in circles in and out of the building, and they don’t call the rescue choppers for two hours, then they tear the building down and seal it, and they get caught using blue screens and a email by Bloomberg comes out in a lawsuit where he’s telling his people to get ready in the next 24 hours to capitalize on a shooting.
"Yeah, so, 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. I appreciate your call."
Also, a web link below the video excerpt led us to check on Jones’ Dec. 28, 2014, episode in which the host, responding to a caller, called the Sandy Hook incident "a giant hoax." Jones elaborated: "The general public doesn’t know the school was actually closed the year before." Also: "They don’t know they had kids going in and out of the building as a photo opp." And, Jones said on that show: "But it took me about a year with Sandy Hook to come to grips with the fact that the whole thing was fake. I mean, I couldn’t believe it. I knew they jumped on it, used the crisis, hyped it up. But then I did deep research--and my gosh, it just pretty much didn’t happen."
We found a little more Jones’ commentary. In a Sept. 24, 2014, episode of the show, Jones cited a story on the InfoWars webpage that day headlined, "FBI says no one killed at Sandy Hook." Jones then said, "According to FBI crime statistics at FBI.gov, no one died in 2012 in Sandy Hook. It shows no homicides in that town."
By email, we tried to ask InfoWars staff about Jones’ comments and didn’t hear back.
Clinton said Jones "said that the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there."
Clinton didn’t nail Jones’ wording. But the Austin broadcaster said quite clearly long before Clinton spoke that the day’s tragic events featured actors and also "pretty much didn’t happen."
We find this statement True.
TRUE – The statement is accurate and there’s nothing significant missing. Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.https://www.sharethefacts.co/share/47f3b1de-2f69-4b1f-b661-fe57069c73bf
Transcript, "Hillary Clinton’s Speech on Donald Trump and the GOP’s ‘Radical Fringe,’" Time magazine, Aug. 25, 2016
YouTube video, "Alex Jones Responds To Hillary Clinton's Attack," Aug. 25, 2016 (1:18 and 3:24 marks)
Background paper, Hillary Clinton campaign, "Background Report: Donald Trump: Mainstreaming a Hate Movement," Aug. 25, 2016
News analysis story, "Donald Trump and the ‘Amazing’ Alex Jones," the New Yorker, June 23, 2016
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